Interview with Composer and Musician Andrew Rosciszewski

Andrew Rosciszewski (Image Credit: Anthony Saint James)

When we found out that we could get an interview with Andrew Rosciszewski, we jumped at the chance.  Andrew is an up and coming Composer and Musician that already has many works under his belt. However, he lives an everyday life like everyone else in this world waiting until he can make it BIG!  His music will strike everyone as fresh and new.  I urge everyone to see what all the fuss is about. With no further adieu, let’s find out what’s behind all the music.

On to the interview….

The Daily Quirk: Please tell the readers a little about yourself:

Andrew Rosciszewski: By night (and summers) I am a composer and bassist. By day I teach music in an elementary school. That’s how Beethoven did it, right?

TDQ: When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in music?

AR: After several years of college and attempting a few different courses of study I decided to follow my heart and study music seriously without any idea how I would actually make a living.

TDQ: Were you more interested in playing or writing first?

AR: Playing.

TDQ: And now? {In reference to above}

AR: Definitely writing. Playing has become a means to an end. Especially since, as a composer, you are usually writing for instruments that you don’t necessarily play or play well. I still like to play but I don’t think I like to ‘perform.’ If that makes any sense.

TDQ: Which do you find more challenging?

AR: As cliché as it may sound they both have their challenges. However, I find composing to be more rewarding for me.

TDQ: Who are your classical music inspirations?

AR: Dmitri Shostakovich, Igor Stravinsky, Henryk Gorecki, to name a few.

TDQ: How about modern inspiration?

AR: Mainly progressive rock bands – Rush, Porcupine Tree, Fates Warning.

TDQ: Is there a particular piece that you have written and are particularly proud of? If so, why?

AR: That really is a tough question. I have many pieces that I can say I’m proud of… ‘now.’ Maybe not so when I first composed them. Looking back (and listening to them now) you tend to remember things differently. I don’t remember the process that it took to write them. I will sometimes listen to a piece and be somewhat amazed that I was able to write something that I want other people to hear.

I am pretty proud of the Marimba Trilogy (which is on the CD). I think I’m even more proud that I was able to play the bass line in the last movement!

I’m also very proud of Piesn Wdowy – it’s an art song for soprano voice and piano sung in Polish. It posed a big challenge for a while. The opening section came together fairly quickly but the middle section took forever. I think I put it away for a year or so and came back to it. It starts out in a slow, mourning style in which I wrote myself into a corner until I decided to change the feel and have the middle section change to a fast, quasi-Polish dance which may not sound like it but has a Chopin influence.

I’m also quite proud of my latest piece Sonic Real Estate which was commissioned by Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble. It is written for a very strange combination of instruments: electric bass, drum set, flute, cello and church organ. This was another problematic piece since I am not a fan of the organ. I really needed to think outside the box (and my comfort zone) and write a piece that ‘rocks’ while writing for an instrument I had no experience with as well as liked the sound of. Once I found how to use the organ to my advantage the piece came together quickly AND it’s one of my favorites.

Andrew Rosciszewski (Image Credit: Anthony Saint James)

TDQ: Your pieces have been performed by symphonies and orchestras in the United States and England. Is it exciting every time?

AR: Absolutely. To be fortunate for anyone to think highly enough of my music to want to perform it is exciting in itself whether it’s a small chamber ensemble or large orchestra. But to hear 50 or more people all playing something you have created is something else entirely. I don’t think exciting can quite describe it

TDQ: You have received awards from New Music USA and ASCAPlus. What would you like to achieve in the future?

AR: I am still trying to build a reputation as a composer so I am constantly trying to make new contacts and apply for various grants and awards – anything to get my career to the next level. A Grammy would be nice too!

TDQ: You recently completed “Fantasie for Rock Band and Orchestra” How would you describe the sound of the CD?

AR: The recording is inherently contemporary classical in nature but there are also some not so subtle progressive rock influences. To quote the liner notes for the album:

“The Marimba Trilogy is a bit of an anomaly when compared to the traditional marimba literature currently in existence. Written in descending numerical order, where the third part is actually the first in sequence, it is an homage to the rock band Rush’s “Fear Trilogy.”

Traditionally, marimba concertos are written with a singular accompaniment – meaning, marimba and orchestra, or marimba and piano. The “Fantastic Adventure” is written for three completely different accompaniments. Part 3 (first in the sequence) was composed for marimba and piano. Part 2 is for marimba, flute (or violin) and cello. Part 1 (last in sequence) was written for the very unorthodox pairing of marimba and rock band rhythm section.

The role of the marimba also shifts with each part. Part 3 features the marimba prominently and is easily the most traditional of the three sections. The soloist is required to perform extremely fast, complicated passages while the piano plays a supportive role in the overall composition. Part 2 shifts the focus away from the soloist and to the overall ensemble.

The challenge of this section lies in the interplay of the ensemble as opposed to any one particular display of pyrotechnic virtuosity. Part 1 (third in sequence) finds the marimba as the primary melodic voice in a rock style composition. It begins with slow, lush chords that give the listener a bit of a reprieve before the chaos that is to follow. Then, the marimba navigates through constantly shifting meters, while serving as both soloist and accompanist. In other words, the marimba goes on a “fantastic adventure” and gets a chance to play with a bunch of different musicians in a variety of musical styles. Although never performed in its entirety until the recording of this CD (over a decade later), The Marimba Trilogy provided me with a variety of musical themes and motifs to borrow from for my “rock band”.

The idea of composing a piece of music for both rock band and orchestra immediately appealed to me. Considering the fact that I already had an entire album’s worth of “rock” material that was deeply influenced by my love of orchestral music, the initial draft of the “Fantasie for Rock Band and Orchestra” came together fairly quickly. However, there was one compositional goal that I strongly felt he needed to achieve with his rock band and orchestral collaboration that was lacking in most of the other collaborations out there – I wanted to fully integrate the rock band into the orchestra as opposed to having the orchestra simply accompany the band. To achieve this, the rock band would in essence become another “section” in the orchestra, working hand in hand with the strings, winds, brass and percussion.

The collaboration of these seemingly divergent musical entities wouldn’t be limited to the traditional approach of one playing while the other sat out. Instead, they were to be completely symbiotic to create a new hybrid orchestra and the composition could not stand alone without one of the elements present.

The “Fantasie for Rock Band and Orchestra” received its first performance in July of 2004 by the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra. Several thousand people attended the outdoor concert, and the piece was a huge hit amongst those in attendance. Marred by less than ideal recording conditions, a satisfactory recording of the piece could not be captured. In the years following that performance, I began refining my score and planning the recording sessions that would finally provide a definitive recording of the piece. Due to the overall difficulty of the music and the enormity of the ensemble required to perform it, the logistics involved in hiring, rehearsing and recording a full orchestra would most certainly prove to be cost prohibitive. Despite the assistance of a successful IndieGoGo campaign, this project remains almost entirely self-financed.

TDQ: Where did the inspiration come from?

AR: The Marimba Trilogy was written for my friend, and frequent collaborator, percussionist Vince Livolsi. One of the greatest advantages of being a composer still in college is the availability of musicians at your disposal to perform your music. While the last two movements went without being performed until this recording, and I never thought the last movement would ever see the light of day I cannibalized some of the motifs for a rock project Vince and I were working on which went on to become a couple of songs for Eyes On Infinity. Those songs, in turn, went on to become the basis for the Fantasie for Rock Band & Orchestra. The pairing of these two pieces for this CD is really perfect seeing as how they are so interconnected.

Fantasie for Rock Band and Orchestra Cover (Image Credit: Maxim Golubchikov)

TDQ: What made you want to create this CD?

AR: I wanted a definitive record of some of my music. Up until this point the only recordings I have been fortunate enough to make were from live performances. The performances have generally been very good but I wanted something that sounded more professional, something that was a good representation of my style. These days a quality recording is equivalent to a business card.

TDQ: How long did it take you to make it happen?

AR: The actual recording process took about 2.5 years. Now it’s not like I was there everyday for 2.5 years but due to space as well as monetary limitations the orchestra was recorded in sections. Hiring all the musicians as well as studio time gets expensive. The time frame also includes a 6 – 8 month period when the studio relocated to a larger space. No doubt to accommodate recording my music.

TDQ: What’s it like to see all your hard work come to fruition?

AR: Liberating. I’m looking forward to finally completing it and moving on to something new. It’s been a long time coming.

TDQ: What is next for you?

AR: Next, I have a few projects that have been rolling around inside my head for a while but didn’t want to try to tackle since I was so invested (financially and emotionally) with the Fantasie for Rock Band project. I have some very old straight ahead rock songs I would like to finally record professionally as well as a chamber music project and finally finishing my progressive metal project with Vince.

On the performing side I am a freelance bassist and often play with community theaters and am a frequent collaborator with Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble.

TDQ: Do you have any advice for aspiring composers or musicians?

AR: The funny thing is,I am still an aspiring musician and composer. I have a day job that lets me pay the bills but at the same time compose and perform when the opportunity presents itself. As a matter of fact, I could probably use some advice myself! LOL!

A big thanks to Andrew for your interview with us! It was great to see what it takes to be a composer and musician like yourself! All of the hard work paid off. You can find out more about Andrew and his music on his site.

Do any readers have questions for Andrew? If so, please comment below and we will get them to him straight away.


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