The Musical Adventures of Szymon Rywalski

Almost exactly one year ago, the PMC heard from a dear old friend (and a fabulous conductor of the National Philharmonic Orchestra), Piotr Gajewski. Piotr alerted us and our audience to the cause of Szymon Rywalski, a young Polish horn player who received a huge merit scholarship from Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, but still needed to raise over twenty thousand dollars to attend this prestigious school. Piotr had already generously chipped in to Szymon’s GoFundMe campaign and was encouraging all of his friends and people in the Polish community to follow suit.

There was no question that this young man was a fabulously talented musician, who urgently needed financial assistance. Fast forward to November 2017 and the following email arrived in our inbox:

I am writing to update you on my studies here at Peabody. It has been three months now, since I arrived in USA, and so many great things happened to me already. Peabody is amazing! The atmosphere here is incredible, and I feel that I am learning so much! I already played on seven concerts here, with magnificent players and conductors. I had an opportunity to play phenomenal music that I always dreamt to play, like Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony or Strauss’ Don Juan! But the most important thing is the lessons with Denise Tryon. She is an incredible person and teacher, and I cannot imagine a better place to study horn performance than Peabody with Denise as a teacher.

In addition to learning a lot, I am also experiencing many other new things, starting from S’mores by the campfire, corn maze, to trip to Washington’s museums and live soccer game there! I also met a lot of amazing people and made a lot of really good friends. Another thing I have to mention is the concerts of the incredible Baltimore Symphony Orchestra that I am lucky to attend! I am having the time of my life, and it is all because of your support. I wouldn’t be here without you, and I would like to thank you so much for the opportunity that you gave me. It means a lot for me to be here.”

It was great to hear from Szymon and to know that he was thriving in his new academic environment. At the end of June 2018, Szymon wrote to the Polish Music Center once again with the following update:

This is Szymon Rywalski, the lucky horn player and student from Poland. I just thought I would give you an update of what is happening with me, my studying, and my life. My adventure with Peabody and Baltimore ended on 5/18. You may ask why and what happened, but don’t worry – it’s a good thing. Right after winter break, my horn teacher got a job offer from College-Conservatory of Music of University of Cincinnati and she accepted it. She is the main reason why I came to study in US so obviously I am following her. I will not forget Peabody and all my friends there. It was an amazing time and I learned and grew as a person a lot more than I could expect.

CCM in Cincinnati is a very good school with a very prestigious horn department and incredibly good horn studio. Legendary teacher and player, Randy Gardner, retired after this school year and my teacher, Denise Tryon, was chosen to take over after him. I also got a slightly better scholarship, but the thing I am happy about the most is that I will not have to live in a school dorm. I enjoyed living in it but it was just too expensive for me… I already found a cheap apartment with one of my friends who is also transferring there. It seems like I can afford my 2018/2019 school year with money that I gathered during my stay in Baltimore and with leftovers from last year – I still have some money from my parents who took a loan a year ago. What about after this year? I will worry about it just a bit later.

I know how lucky I am to be where I am now. This is one of the things I learned – how to be appreciative and how to see things that I appreciate. Also, if I would have to choose one thing that Peabody helped me with, I would probably say that it helped me appreciate music and what I am doing more. It also helped me to fall in love with horn again.

Last thing that I want to tell you about is my summer. I am spending most of it in north of New York state in Lake Luzerne. I am a counselor on a music camp called Luzerne Music Center. It is a very special one for me. It was here that American music world was introduced to me two years ago. It was also my very first time in US. I am happy to be back and to repay for the incredible experience I had two years ago. It’s beautiful and peaceful here and the kids are great. So talented and passionate about music – I love it. I am staying here for almost two months more and then going straight to Cincinnati for the next adventure! Thank you very much for your support! All my best wishes! Szymon.”

Indeed! Congratulations, Szymon, good luck in all your endeavors, and thanks for keeping in touch with the Polish Music Center. Please keep us informed about your studies and performances, as we would love to share them with our readers all across the world.