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Marzena Diakun

Marzena Diakun, fot. Łukasz Rajchert
Marzena Diakun, photo: Łukasz Rajchert

One of the promising conductors of her generation, at age 31 she has travelled across Europe honing her craft, conducting some of Poland's best orchestras and the National Radio Orchestra in Prague. 

Diakun was born in Koszalin, Poland, in 1981, and was drawn to the conductor's podium from an early age. At concerts, her eyes fixed on the conductor and his baton. She began trying her hand at a profession largely dominated by men. Her idols are men: Günter Wand with his Bruckner symphonies, Arturo Toscanini's Wagner, George Szell's Brahms, Gergive's Shostakovich. She often returns to vintage recordings by Witold Rowicki; for inspiration in 20th-century repertoire, she sits in on rehearsals of Kazimierz Kord, Jerzy Maksymiuk and Jerzy Salwarowski, to name a few. As she shared in an interview with Przegląd magazine, she's most interested in the final effect and the sound of the orchestra, not necessarily conducting technique in itself.

Diakun's skill as a conductor has been praised by Richard Rosenberg, conductor, producer and artistic director of the National Music Festival and the Union Symphony Orchestra. Rosenberg remarked that "her musicality is exceptional and based upon solid scholarship paired with fine instinct. I would rate her at the very top 5 percentile of her profession".

She began conducting before graduating from the Karol Lipiński Music Academy in Wrocław, and earned her Master's at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna and her Ph.D at the Music Academy in Kraków. She also studied with Howard Griffiths and Colin Metters in Zurich (2003) and with Pierre Boulez at the Luzern Festival (2011).

Her debut came during her second year of studies, in 2002, conducting the finale concert of the 17th International Percussion Music Days Symphony Gala in Koszalin. She has conducted the symphonic orchestras of Wroclaw, Katowice and Kraków. In 2003 she toured Germany, Switzerland and Denmark as the assisting conductor of the Orchestra of the Polish Opera. She worked with the National Radio Orchestra in Prague, the National Polish Radio Orchestra in Katowice, the philharmonic orchestras of Zielona Gora, Wrocław, Kalisz and Rzeszow, and the Young Wrocław Orchestra.

Diakun has won international awards including the highest distinction for conductors from the Polish Ministry of Culture in 2005 and second prize at the prestigious 59th Prague Spring Competition for Conductors in the Czech Republic. She was a finalist in the 4th International Lutosławski Conducting Competition in Poland in 2006. She was a semifinalist in 2008 in both the Quadaques Conductors Competition in Barcelona and Donatella Flick Competition in London. She was awarded first prize at the Fitelberg Competition in Katowice in 2011, and was awarded second prize in the same competition in November 2012. 

Her previous appointments include assisting Jerzy Maksymiuk with the Koszalin Philharmonic Orchestra, and as Andrey Boreyko’s assistant with the Berner Symphony Orchestra and as Richard Rosenberg’s assistant during the National Music Festival. Her collaboration with the Smash Ensemble contemporary orchestra in Spain, since 2009, has brought premieres by Spanish composers in Portugal, Spain, Germany and Lithuania. She currently is a tenured lecturer at the Karol Lipinski Academy of Music in Wrocław.

Diakun takes a humble approach to her task, saying in the interview with Przegląd interview that "A conductor may get carried away by the music, but every case of form overshadowing content is a dangerous one. In Ravel's Bolero, while it is a dance piece, it is enough for the conductor to show which instrument is to begin playing every few beats. The movement of the baton should be helpful, not a hindrance."

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Editor: Agnieszka Le Nart


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