Izabela Musial

We are proud to present bassoonist Izabela Musiał, the inaugural winner of the RPS Allianz Instrumentalist Prize. A graduate of the Royal College of Music who's recently completed Southbank Sinfonia's fellowship, Izabela has studied in four different cities, undertakes a busy job in a coffee shop to support her performance career, and includes latte art among her list of extra-musical talents.

We asked her to share some of her experiences and insights:

  • What are you working on at the moment?

I’m very excited for the upcoming year. Currently, I’m working hard on some orchestral excerpts for auditions, but I’ve been thinking about what kind of music I would like to learn, including more pieces written by Polish composers, many of whom won't be familiar to audiences here.

  • Do you remember the first time you were given a bassoon?

When I was 11, I started having flute lessons. I always dreamt of playing it. After one year, my teacher said I wouldn’t be a good flautist, so she suggested the bassoon instead. I was devastated by this, because I was literally crazy about the flute!

Coming from a non-musical family, I had absolutely no idea what the bassoon was. I remember my parents rented my first bassoon from the music school of my home city, and when my dad brought it home, we opened the case and stared at it, laughing – a bit shocked and scared by what we saw! We managed to put all the joints together, but without any reeds I wasn’t able to make a sound. I began my lessons shortly after.

  • What has been your most inspiring experience?

I remember my time at Royal College of Music, especially the first few weeks, arriving from Poland where I grew up. Everything was so different compared to what I’d experienced before. There were so many amazing students, inspiring concerts, masterclasses and lessons, all of which had a huge impact on me. For one orchestral project, we worked with musicians from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, performing Beethoven Symphony No.2 unconducted. Working with them really opened my eyes and ears. Every now and then, I think back to those three incredible days.

  • What's the best thing about being a performer, and what are the difficulties of the job?

I like the fact that I work with different people and meet new people all the time. I also enjoy discovering new places, so being in an orchestra that goes on tours - like Southbank Sinfonia - is great fun. It's wonderful that I get to do what I really love - and because I love it, I never get tired of it. One of the difficulties is that each day and each week are different: we don’t only work Mondays to Fridays, 9 till 5. Sometimes we start very early, sometimes we get back home very late. It’s also hard not being able to see my family very often, but apps like FaceTime make it much easier!

  • Tell us three things you can't imagine living without.

My phone, tea and chocolate.

  • Right now, you have a full-time job in order to support your performing career. How do you stay organised and manage all your tasks?

Sometimes it’s very hard to fit everything in and I wish I had more than 24 hours! The most important thing is to keep a diary and to write down everything you need to do: rehearsals, lessons, concerts. On Sundays, I look ahead to the upcoming week so I know what to expect, like how much time I’ll have for practice, as I plan that in advance as well.

I set myself long-term goals, so I know what I’m working towards. Then, I pretty much live day-by-day, trying to do all tasks. It’s very important to have enough sleep and eat properly! It might sound funny, but these are the two things we usually forget about when we’re very busy.

As a musician, I want to be the best in everything I do. But I've come to realise that I’m still a human being, not a robot, and it’s absolutely okay if I’m not capable of doing everything! It’s important to have a support from family and friends, and to learn how to ask for help when you need it. I remember to give myself 'Iza time': meet my friends, discover London and just enjoy life! Keeping a good balance is crucial and sometimes I forget that I live in one of the most famous and exciting cities in the world.

  • If you didn’t play the bassoon, what would you be doing?

I would love to run my own cafe! Serving nice coffee, tea and cakes, organising little concerts or poetry evenings there, having shelves full of books, creating a place where people feel at home.


Over the year, Iza will be acting as an advocate for the bassoon and all its wonders through blogs we'll share on our website. Meanwhile, you can follow Izabela on Twitter @izabela_musial.

You can download her full biography by clicking the link below.

Each year, the RPS supports outstanding emerging artists like Iza to develop artistically and professionally. If you would like to get in touch with Iza, with a query or possibly opportunity, please contact us by email or phone on 020 7287 0019.