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Daily Inspiration: Meet Dominika Dancewicz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dominika Dancewicz.

Hi Dominika, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I’m a Houston-based professional classical violinist and educator. I was born in Poland, and I spent my formative years there, going through a very rigid classical music education from the age 7. I came to the United States when I was in my 20s, so already a formed adult, and professional musician. I had years of a professional career in a world-class chamber orchestra behind me, when I decided to do another Master’s Degree in Violin Performance at Rice University. I got a full scholarship to study at the Shepherd School of Music, and that’s the beginning of my life in America. It’s hard to believe but it’s been many years since I first arrived here, but I never looked back. Over the past years, I’ve formed many personal and professional connections to the classical music world here, which allowed me to thrive on my own. Together with my colleagues, I founded two Houston-based professional ensembles: Axiom Quartet and Duo Dramatique, which are my main creative outlets, and with which I perform dozens of concerts every year.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It’s never a completely smooth ride, particularly in a field as difficult and competitive as classical music. I have not managed to land a so-called “full time job” in a symphony orchestra or otherwise, so my entire career is based on self-created opportunities and networking. Today I’m grateful to have the freedom and flexibility to work on my own and with like-minded musicians, although what this usually means is that we have to constantly push to challenge ourselves by finding opportunities. I’m grateful to have found fellow musicians who value the same creative freedom and responsibility for themselves. Thanks to these professional friendships we have managed to create a non-profit (Axiom Quartet) and a professional violin-piano duo, which have been thriving, publishing CDs, touring, and generally staying very busy.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Being a classical musician doesn’t necessarily mean you just get to play elegant music in a long gown all day long! I have been lucky to have found excellent fellow musicians who are as curious about new, creative ways of presenting classical music to the audiences, as I am. What we do is we find ways to present great, traditional classical music back-to-back with new works, or even pop and rock music in a one concert experience. We believe that good music has no boundaries, and as musicians, we can master and enjoy all genres, without limits. We always turn our concerts into educational experiences, because we talk to our audiences, explaining the context and history of the music we play. We often reach out to modern and new music, and we collaborate with living, and often local composers, to create new works. I’m particularly proud of my recently released CD titled “Crossroads” (released on national label Navona Records in November 2021) which includes music of three Houston-based composers, who are my personal friends. All of us are connected by our alma mater – Rice University. The music on this CD is as diverse as the city of Houston, because it reflects the multicultural and rich background of our city. The album has been circulating nationally, gaining lots of attention from radio presenters. Aside from my recital and concert work with Duo Dramatique and Axiom Quartet, I’m also a concertmaster for the Opera in the Heights Orchestra, as well as an active and passionate teacher. I’m an adjunct professor at the University of St Thomas Music Department, and I have a large and diverse violin studio.

The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
I have learned that nothing can be taken for granted: we are not guaranteed to retain our health, our work, or our opportunities. We can lose what we’ve built very quickly. But I’ve also learned that as part of the art community, we are resilient and creative. Very quickly after the onset of the pandemic, together with my fellow Axiom Quartet musicians, we decided to create a digital concert season. We made a series of recordings, featuring ambitious and diverse programming. We hired professional videographers and audio engineers, we secured a beautiful church as our location. In effect – we had a very fruitful and satisfying pandemic season, professionally speaking, with several wonderful video recordings we are very proud of. Of course, I do realize that not everyone was lucky enough to be able to work, or to even live through the worst of the pandemic, so probably the biggest lesson of them all is to be grateful.

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Image Credits
Rahim Quazi
Pin Lim
Mark Chen

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