Maestro Baginska: Arabs asked to improve professional musical education for children at young age

The Maestro & Music Professor
I ask Arabs to improve professional musical education for children at a young age

I am happy to interview one of the unique figures in the world of music. The Maestro & Music Professor Valentina Maria Baginska. Welcome Maestro VALENTINA.

Maestro Valentina
• Dear Mr. Ashraf, first of all, I would like to thank you very much for inviting me to the AsiaN. I will be happy to share my experience and ideas with you for the benefit of many people, who are interested in music, education and culture; generally.

I am really uncertain of the most perfect start for this interview. The world of Maestro Valentina is so rich. Being a professor with an academic activity  on conducting, piano, organ, improvisation, vocal; music theory, history, literature, and being active concert artist, maestro of choir &  orchestra, music  manager, but one thing is certain; it is all about music…

Maestro Valentina
• Yes, since the earliest period of my life music has taken an important role. Music is so rich and versatile, that one human life is not enough to acknowledge and discover everything that was created in music and what abilities are required to perform music at its highest standard.

I would like to explain why I am interested in different fields of music, starting from knowledge (history, theory, and literature), educational process (my academic experiences) and mainly – artistic process  (performance, creation of the art conceptions such as concert programs with messages to the audience etc). I often repeat to my students that music is a very precise subject, like math.

That is why I studied a long time in prestigious schools and European music centers such as Frederic Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, Music Academyin Riga, Post graduate Concert Master Studies in Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Belgiumand CzechRepublic. My mentors were worldwide known professors.

Let me get back to the roots of this music tree. The first paradise to grow it: The family, the school, and those early days.

Maestro Valentina
• You are right. The first steps into the music world started within the family. I remember my parents and other relatives singing and playing during holidays (Christmas, Easter, birthdays, weddings and any other occasions). Some of my relatives played piano, guitar, accordion, mandolin and violin. The others had excellent voice. I was not a typical child, at evening during family meetings; I asked permission to stay longer with adults to listen to music, when other children were bored and went to sleep or played children’s games.  At home, we, the children arranged the decoration, changed our clothes and acted out different roles adapted from tale stories.

An important role in artistic education was played by kindergarten, which had a very rich musical program; school with versatile art activity varying from painting, theatre and choir; followed by activities in different clubs, such as: dance, music and sport. I used to write poems when I was a teenager. Since, I started to play instruments; I took part in numerous school events as a permanent amateur artist. My passion towards theatre played a big role as well.


Your degree master of Fine Arts; was entitled “Latvian Song Festivals and their Role in the Development of Latvian Music Culture”. It is interesting field to study and talk about as well.

Maestro Valentina
• I chose this theme for my thesis in Academy of Musicin Warsaw because I had a rich experience from the Baltic culture. Back in the time, Polish music literature wasn’t available about Latvian Music Culture so I used German, Latvian and Russian resources, mainly basing on my personal experience and knowledge about choir repertoire which I knew perfectly.

The history about Latvian Culture in my life started as following. I was a member of the Polish National Theater and we toured over the Baltic countries –Estonia,Latvia, and Lithuania. In Riga, I was under the impression of the National Song Festival- Latviesu Dziesmu Svetki, when the entire city was singing, playing and dancing. During the festival I managed to listen to an excellent organ concert in the great cathedral (in Latvian – Doma Baznica). There is the famous organ built by a German organ builder Walcker in 1884 – during that period it was the greatest organ in Europe. Since then, it was my dream to study there. I attended conducting and organ classes inLatvian Academyof Music in Riga.

The time spent in Riga was the richest musical experience for me. I had the opportunity to acknowledge a new language, since the lectures were in Latvian. I was a member, as a singer and as a player, as well as, a conductor, whose job was to tutor the choir for the song festival. Thousands of people participated as artists – members of choirs, orchestras, and dance groups. Everybody was dressed in their traditional robes. This event is held regularly every 3- 4 years starting from 1873, when in the initial festival more than thousand participants took part. In the 100th anniversary in 1973 there were 19,000 participants.

Expressing culture in many forms is a way to preserve the country’s tradition. Preparing the festival is a job of many groups of people. Numerous auditions are held to select the best artists who will perform during the actual festival. All the participants are given the same repertoire to practice and then the juries will chose those who perform it best.

I had the opportunity to be a member of the Song Festival in 1977 and 1980. My presence during the festival has left a permanent memory in my heart and my mind.

Chopin zelazowa wola

I think you knew more of the Latvian culture secrets by completing your degree master of Fine Arts; on “Latvian Organ Culture”. In what aspects could it be unique, and why?

Maestro Valentina
• For my thesis on organ faculty in Warsaw Music Academy I selected something unknown for Polish musicology –I researched the Latvian Organ Culture.

There are some activities which became national specialties of Latvia. Latvia, a small Baltic country, is the world’s capital of the choir and song culture. To fully live in the mind of a Latvian is to sing; to be Latvian means to sing in few choirs. They need music like others need air; sunshine or food…The peak of the national celebration of music is, of course, the famous Latvian Song Festival.

As well as Latvia is known for its excellent organs and organ virtuosos. That is why; I started my organ studies there in 1977. Weekly, there were 5 organ recitals held in Doma Baznica- Cathederal, which was in that time a concert hall of Latvian Philharmonic for organ concerts. The hall was overcrowded with almost two thousands listeners.

Five organ technicians were employed to keep the historical instrument in order. Many foreign organists, who came to perform in Riga, were impressed not only by inimitable sound of original ranges of pipes and stops, but also by the technical service of Walcker organ. I listened to all organ recitals during that time. I met many excellent organists in Riga, which later became my professors and friends.

To be a conductor or an organist – it was the most prestigious music specialization inLatvia. I had a lot of  luck to study in Riga with the famous Latvian organ virtuosos such as: prof. Nikolais Vanadzins, Peter Sipolnieks and Brigita Mieze. I know many modern Latvian composers, which wrote interesting music for organ. One of them is Aivars Kalejs. I performed his work “Via Dolorosa” inKuwaitin March 2009.

Marian Sawa

For the last 25 years you have been living with music all over Europe and Kuwait. Tell us about a musician on travel.

Maestro Valentina 
• A professional musician who plays public concerts needs to perform for their audience just like a teacher who needs his pupils to teach so he will be always a teacher. A medical doctor will always heal people disregarding the time and place, the poet will always write his poems etc.

It is not only a profession, it is a style of life, to be musician- artist means also to have a mission, a duty in front of other people –  introduce them into the beautiful world of music. The musical program for the night acts as a message which should be performed many times, that is why the artists travel looking for a new audience.

Travelling is a part of artistic life. An artist needs a source of inspiration to create. I like to travel and to perform publicly. During 1980-1990th I performed yearly almost 30 organ recitals and conducted a choir above 30 times. I met wonderful audiences, especially in Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Denmark, which was my source of inspiration to continue my music career. For many years I managed to stay in touch with numerous people who were amongst the audience during my various concerts in many countries.

Song festival in Riga, Latvia

Being a musician is something gifted. It needs the inherited talent. But I would like to hear from an experienced professor her secrets of educating music.

Maestro Valentina
• My educational ability evolved since the earliest period of my life. I was the first child in my family. I instructed my younger sisters and brothers in many fields. In the school, I was very advanced in math and physics, and during breaks, I helped other students in subjects they struggled the most. Later on, I was studying musical performance, pedagogy, psychology and methodic. I had many practicals on these courses during my studies.

After graduation, I conducted choirs and orchestras which contributed towards my educational process. For many years, I was a lecturer and a concert organist in National Philharmonic in Warsaw. I presented organ history, secrets of organ construction and its wide repertoire during regular organ presentations in the concert hall for almost 700 people in one session.

I had the opportunity to study with excellent professors: symphonic conducting in Riga by Mendelis Bass, choir conducting by Irene Baltabole, improvisation in Warsaw by Marian Sawa , score reading by Hanna Piliczowa , organ by Feliks Raczkowski and Joachim Grubich, organ  by Zsigmont Sathmary in Freiburg -Germany, also organ with Hans Haselboeck fromVienna, and many others. They were outstanding specialists in their subjects, but also very kind, sensitive and noble figures.

To be good in education means to be a high class specialist, permanently improving yourself, to have passion, to be creative, to love people and to adore your subject but mainly be an authority for students and spread passion towards music. These are the secret ingredients of being a good professor.

View of the city of Riga Via Akmans Stone bridge

You have your own concert activity as soloist (organ) in Dar AI-Athar Al-Islamiyyah Cultural Seasons since 2006, tell me about that.

Maestro Valentina
• My adventure with organ in Kuwait started in 2006. But, I thought about it since 2003 since I arrived in Kuwait. I talked to some influential people about organ but nobody understood me.  In April 2006, I met Her Highness Sheikha Hussah Sabah Al- Salem Al-Sabah during the lecture in Al-Maidan Cultural Centre. I found this interior very suitable for musical performances because of its atmosphere. I persuaded Sheikha Hussah to bring in musical instruments, such as: piano and organ, to start regular music activity.

I chose a very advanced modern organ made by an Italian company Viscount. Its sound is extremely close to real pipe organs. As well as, I recommended purchasing a grand Yamaha piano from Japan. Yamaha pianos are found in many famous concert halls because they are known for its excellent sound quality that meets an affordable price. They are used in Warsaw Philharmonic during Chopin Competitions.

The organ Prestige 100 arrived to Kuwait on the 15th September 2006. It was a very important day for me but first of all, one step ahead in Kuwait’s culture. I started intensive practices and at the 26th of December 2006, I played first organ recital in Kuwait and Gulf countries. Amongst the guests, the British Ambassador Stuart Laing was very satisfied and sent me an e-mail: ‘Excellent organ concert which I very enjoyed.’

Since then, we started to cooperate and soon after others joined in (Ambassador Stuart Laing, Dr. UsamehJamali, Mr. Harvey Pincis and me) .We became the founders of Dai Music Circle (DMC). Inauguration meeting was held at the 28th January 2007, to celebrate the foundation of DMC, I played the second organ recital. Followed by another recital on the 23rd of April with a lecture and piano, titled “The phenomena of Frederic Chopin Music”, on the 14th of May 2007 I played third organ recital titled “Organ-King of Instruments”.  Generally, the 12th Cultural Season of DAI was enriched with music.

Next seasons I played other organ recitals, later I connected organ and chamber music, and in 2008 I started to play Arabic music. I perform: traditional organ repertoire, arrangement of piano, symphonic and Arabic music. Permanently, I make a research in the quality of sound to get the most timbre from organ, just like an enormous orchestra.

Starting from 2007 during summer holidays I organized my personal organ festival in St. Augustine in Warsaw using the same organ, just like the one in Kuwait; Prestige 100. Many people were positively surprised with the connection of organ and orchestra all in one– it is a modern digital technology. I promote Arabic music in my recitals in Warsaw.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Maestro Valentina, it is not only the gifted talent of music, but it is the gifted talent of knowing other languages as well. It is something gifted. It needs the inherited talent: English, German, Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Czech, French and Latvian. Is it related somehow with the art of listening as a musician?

Maestro Valentina
• You are right. Among other subjects, foreign languages were my favorites. Each language has its own morphology, color, melody, accent, and dramaturgy. In every of these language the accent must be emphasized in or the beginning, middle or end of the worlds, just like musical pieces to give the right tone.

Studying new language was very exciting for me. I always dreamed to travel around the world and to understand all languages to communicate with every person in the worlds effectively. In school, I studied English, Russian, and in Riga, Latvian, followed by studying  German which is the language of Bach, Haydn, Mozart , Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, and  French as a language of Couperin, Franck, Bizet, Debussy, Ravel and  Dupree.

As a choir conductor, I had a repertoire in different languages. My ambition was to understand the meaning of lyrics of pieces we performed. Sure, musicians have more sensitive hearing and speak with a better accent than others. But the most important fact is that music is the universal language of human feelings, emotions and modes without words.

How do you plan your programs? I mean what play list secrets you use to build them?

Maestro Valentina
• My concerts have the ideas; I titled each of them. For example: Organ – King of instruments, For heart and soul, Pearls of the world organ music, Concert for peace, Organ in orchestral colors, Music rainbow between East and West, Music without borders, Polonia Restituta , Musica semper fidelis  etc.

It is something personal, emerging from my long 16 years of experience as an impresario and a supervisor in the National Philharmonic in Warsaw. I organized and constructed almost 30 concerts yearly for youth. For such an audience music should give an idea, and appeal to impress deeply.

Accordingly to the main idea of the concert, I choose the repertoire. When I contract the program, I think of creating a climax with an introduction, body, culmination and conclusion. My previous experience in theatre helps me very much. The audience should have a very good impression from each concert and should leave the concert hall with a desire to come again to listen to the artist.

From time to time, there are movies and documentaries filmed on the lives of the world great musicians. If you are to write a script on one of those figures, who could be, and why?

Maestro Valentina
• I have many favorite figures from the music world: composers, performers and conductors, which I admire and respect. The greatest are well known and have many works about their life and output. If I was to write, I would write about a modern Polish composer Marian Sawa (1937-2005), who I knew for over 25 years. He was my professor, and my friend.

He wrote and dedicated 5 organ pieces on my request to the special occasion such as: International organ festivals in Germany and Sweden or other occasions. He was a genius composer, improviser, artist, performer and virtuoso. At the same time he was very modest, very sensitive, full of compassion, with big heart and a rich soul and very friendly to everybody.

He wrote about 1,000 compositions in different genres- big oratorio, religious mass, many pieces for organ, vocal and instrumental forms. He created his own easily recognizable style. He used very rich and at the same time communicative musical language. His role in Polish modern music is comparable with the role of Johann Sebastian Bach. I called him, the “Polish Bach of the XX century” and successively certify my thesis in organ concerts.

Since 1986, I perform regularly his works in organ recitals over Europe. From 2006, also in Kuwait to the listeners of DAI who had the opportunity to listen to his great “Ecce Lignum Crucis”, “Te Deum”, “Dance Sketches”, Three Obertaski, Dances in old style, Choral Preludes etc.

I am writing my memories connected with his work, creativity and our common musical activity. I cooperated with him during my art direction for choirs, invited him to play for my choir during concert tours in Germany and Switzerland. Also, he performed many times in National Philharmonic, where I was over 16 years a supervisor, concert organist and impresario. His improvisations were inimitable. My obligation, my mission is to keep this knowledge and to pass it for next generations.

It is not only a movie that helps to study and be inspired by world musicians; it is also their written works. Their homes become museums. I enjoyed Beethoven’s in Bonn, tell me about the music museums in some of the countries you visited or lived in (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, France, Kuwait, Latvia, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Ukraine).

Maestro Valentina
• I start from Zelazowa Wola (Poland) where Chopin was born. Many places in Warsaw, where he lived, studied, and created his music, which have this particular atmosphere; the air is full of rose’s essence and Chopin’s music, such as Lazienki Park. In Germany –Bach’s places – Eisenach, Leipzig, Weimar, Wagner’s museum  in Bayreuth, Liszt museum in Leipzig, Wurzburg, in Belgium – Cesar Franck museum in Mechelen and Brussels, in Austria – Mozarteum in Salzburg, many places in Vienna devoted for Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, in Denmark and Hamburg –  Buxtehude places, in Czech Republic – Smetana, Dvorak  Museums in Prague etc.

Maestro VALENTINA, I would like you to address our readers with final words…

Maestro Valentina
• I have a very short and important message for readers. There were many civilizations in the human history. What remained after each we find valuable, it is its culture.

I would like to appeal to everybody who is listening to us today:

1/ please, preserve the heritage of culture and of course – such as the unique Arabic music
2/ please, respect the artists and provide them with good conditions to work, to create and to perform
3/ please, try to improve the system of professional musical education for children at a young age in Arab world.

I have many projects for musical activity in Kuwait. I recorded 3 CDs with organ music especially for Kuwait: two in 2005 and one in 2008. I am looking for serious sponsorship and support. If  some of you have  desire to cooperate with me, please contact me by e-mail :

I would like to appeal to the members of Royal families in other Arab countries, to businessmen and managers: please open your palaces, residences and public cultural centers for organ music as did Her Highness Sheikha Hussah in Kuwait. I am ready to cooperate with you as a consultant and to perform organ recitals in other Gulf countries.

I am very thankful for you, Mr.  Ashraf, I hope, you find something interesting and useful from my musical experiences.

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