New crossroads on and beyond musical paths

Cutting edges of a music career

Malwina Sosnowski, a violinist from Basel, has been playing and performing since age five (1990), with no significant breaks or loose of focus in her music career ladder. At the end of 2016, though, and after many years of freelancing and organizing, competing, teaching, solo appearances and performances at Festivals, she strongly felt the urge to escape her commodities.

A sabbatical abroad

"2016’s bittersweet ending were feelings of tiredness, never-ending To-Do lists (hung all over my private space walls) and a never-ending array of further ideas still spreading - rotating in my head persistently and ruthlessly. Though I was still working, and keeping up appearance, my mind and body signalized to switch roads for a while in order to regain freshness and energy. I felt the need to get new inputs from elsewhere, dive into multicultural encounters, a new language and into a moving mode. I imagined that surviving in harder circumstances abroad would make me stronger. This is how my journey started, as a vision to fulfil a long kept dream: A sabbatical abroad."

Heading to Brazil!

Malwina wanted to get an insight into another working field in order to gain non-musical experience. Her dear grandmother in Basel, Switzerland, used her sixth sense to recommend her to a Network of her trust, a charitable project she’s been supporting for a long time: The UEMI Foundation, an association raising and organizing help on different levels to children and families in need in Brazil. Its main centre based in the middle of Brazil holds daily activities for nowadays 80 children and youth from poorer families from surrounding areas. Food, showers, education and activities are provided on a daily basis.

Cutting lettuces, playing soccer and volleyball

"I got accepted as a volunteer and landed in Brazil in the beginning of February this year, for a planned stay of two months. As expected, I rapidly got put into new working fields: Cutting dozens of squashes, lettuces, preparing plates and other kitchen work. Playing soccer and volleyball with the kids. Hard physical work for a spoiled arm waiver like me… Besides, I made use of my English skills and taught basics in class, and I tried to communicate broadly in order to improve my Brazilian as quickly as possible. People there, including all the 80 children and youth, were outmost communicative and likeable. I felt welcome and still feel deep admiration for the leading team and for what they execute day by day. They cope with lots of obstacles and problems but never lose their sense of community and belief."

Discovering the beauties of Samba and Bossa Nova music

"The diversity of Brazils people, their music, cities and food were amazing me repeatedly. In general, and throughout my Brazil encounters, I got introduced to the beauties of Samba and Bossa Nova music and its representatives, and thus got a glimpse into this vibrant and amazingly autodidact music culture with deriving influences from all parts of the world."

Back to performing and teaching

Her violin was accompanying her this first part of her journey, and though she didn’t treat it as a priority to practice or to play, she was asked soon to make little performances for the kids and the staff. Many little ears and eyes were attentively listening while Malwina played pieces by Johann S. Bach, Arvo Pärt or made improvisations. "I’ve had the chance to visit and teach within a musical project in another part of the city, where children came together to play in an orchestra 5 days a week for three hours. What a beautiful idea!"

Teaching on the roof of the oldest Favela of Rio

Malwina teaching in Rio ©Scott Benett

Malwina teaching in Rio ©Scott Benett

"I attached a free travel time towards the end of my stay. I headed east to a beach, then continued to Rio de Janeiro. There, I was lucky to meet US photographer Scott Benett, who was in the middle of leading a photography workshop in the Casa Amarela - a cultural centre on the hill of the Providencia Favela of Rio de Janeiro. This is how I ended up playing and teaching violin on the roof of the oldest Favela of Rio!"

After her Brazil experience, she felt refreshed but still with the urge to dive into other cultures and settings. Malwina headed back to Switzerland where she had a concert coming up - her own chamber music group, Ensemble Nuance. Preparing a new repertoire for a piano trio that they performed in the chamber music hall of the Bern concert hall, during a major chamber music event.

Next week: how Malwina, within these 10 days back in Switzerland ends up booking a flight to New Delhi, heading off to beautiful India!

Malwina in India

Malwina plays the Bach a-minor violin concerto at Paul church in Magdeburg, Germany, on December 1st, 2017, accompanied by the German Chamber Orchestra of Berlin.