Bach to Bollywood: Polish violinist Sylwia Malachowska’s story so far

She likes chai as much as she likes Tchaikovsky. Vivaldi, Mozart and Beethoven too.

But to understand how Polish violinist Sylwia Malachowska went from playing Bach to Bollywood, one has to retrace her origin story.

Sylwia comes from a hamlet village in south-western Poland called Rebiszow, with a population of all of 700.

At age 7, she unassumingly told her grandmother she wanted to play violin. Her grandma took her to a local school of music for an audition and the rest is history.

Having completed her studies in international relations in Wroclaw and Athens, Sylwia in 2013 came to Brussels - the beating heart of the EU - in search of opportunity.

While trying to make it as a full-time musician, she picked up part-time work along the way. One such job was helping run Indian restaurants in Brussels.

It was here that Sylwia was first exposed to Bollywood tunes during her shifts; it was here that Indian music was subconsciously seared into her brain.   

Sylwia Malachowska and I(Rahul Venkit) after an acoustic Bollywood gig in Brussels.
Sylwia Malachowska and I(Rahul Venkit) after an acoustic Bollywood gig in Brussels.

Fast forward to May 2016 at a neighbourhood gig, she meets an Indian journalist and amateur musician -- yours truly -- who was on the look-out for a lead instrumentalist for a Bollywood band in Brussels called Confluence Allstars.

A few jams in, it was clear that a brilliant, soul-stirring sound blending the violin and acoustic guitar was taking shape. The new core of the band was born.

“To me, playing Indian music is a chance to experience magic in seemingly ordinary circumstances. There is always something in the air when we play: soothing focus, palpable feelings, or the excitement and energy of Indian audiences that fuels me,” Sylwia says. 

After a year of doing gigs around Belgium, Sylwia and I finally got around to recording a track (thanks to the talented, young Belgian musician and sound engineer Pierre Gillet) to present to the world.

This instrumental medley of Lata Mangeshkar’s Humko hami se chura lo and Arijit’s Singh’s Tum hi ho is testament to the global appeal of Indian music. An Indo-Polish musical collaboration in the capital of Europe reinterpreting old and new Bollywood.

After all, music is universal and blind to boundaries.

Enjoy this song, which we hope will keep you truly “Connected to India,” no matter where in the world you are.

 

NRI
Author
Rahul Venkit
Rahul Venkit

Storyteller with a 17-year career that has so far spanned Brussels, Beijing, London, Singapore and Pune. An Indian reporting Europe for China. Started in print journalism at The Indian Express in 2000 and gradually developed TV, multimedia production and communication skills along the way. More on: http://www.rahulvenkit.com

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