ESO 101: Joanna Ciapka-Sangster

ESO 101: Joanna Ciapka-Sangster
Image credit: Dale MacMillan

Meet Joanna Ciapka-Sangster, violin I for the ESO. Joanna is spending her time working from home planning artistic endeavours with her husband, Kent, playing music with her daughter, Kaja, and listening to her son, Adam, create music in their basement. “It’s a very busy time in our household,” says Joanna. “Sometimes we have to fight for practice time and space!”

When was your earliest recital and what did you play? 
I played publicly for the first time when I was 8 years old. It was part of the school Year End Concert in my Music School in Gdansk, Poland - I was at the end of Grade Two. I played Polish Folk Dance MAZUR with piano accompaniment.

How long have you been with the ESO? 
Since 1994.

How many instruments do you know how to play? 
Violin and piano and bit of cello (my favourite instrument). I learned it with my daughter, Kaja, as she was taking her cello lessons in Suzuki method. I can play pretty much all the songs in Suzuki Cello Book I.

What is your pre-concert ritual? 
I love having long, hot showers before important concerts. It rejuvenates me and helps me focus. I also drink herbal tea and never drink coffee before a concert. I try to have a nap before my shower.

Do you have a nickname?
ASKA, which is short for Joanna (Joasia, Asia, Aska) in Polish.

What is your musical guilty pleasure?
Music by Astor Piazzolla, J.S. Bach, and Jazz music.

What is the last album you purchased (digital or physical)? 
A record of a concerti by K. Szymanowski played by Tasmin Little, which I purchased after our concert with her last year.

What was the last song/piece of music you listened to? 
”They Dance Alone” by STING, "Soul of Tango “record with YO-YO MA, ”Esta Plena” record with Miguel Zenon, “Optimist” record with Grzegorz Nagorski (my friend from Poland on trombone), “Reverence” by Obsessions Octet (our last record). I LOVE listening to different kinds of music!

What would your DJ name be? 

Who would be your partner on the Amazing Race? 
My husband Kent Sangster. The second one would be my friend Ronda Metszies (from the ESO cello section) for sure!

What's something people might not know about you?
I am involved in the Polish Presidential campaign.

What is your favourite city (or a country) you’ve travelled and why? 
GREECE - I love the atmosphere of generosity, exotic food and wine, so much history to see and learn about, hot weather and warm water in the sea (I love snorkeling), and Greek music (Bouzuki). I also love the sound of the Greek language and know how to read it.

What is your favourite sports team or player? 
The OILERS and Polish National Soccer Team during World Cup, of course! 

How many different cities have you lived in? 
GDANSK (my hometown), POZNAN (I went to Academy of Music), WARSAW (I worked in a piano trio for few months), CAIRO, EGYPT (I worked in a piano trio for almost 2 years), and EDMONTON – five cities in total.

What food would be on your rider as a rock star? 
Really good SUSHI, and THAI Food!

What do you do in your free time? 
I play and organize a crossover ensemble that I founded together with my husband: OBSESSIONS OCTET. I plan our concerts, tours, recordings, etc.

Rapid Fire section

Coffee or tea?

Pancakes or Waffles?

Facebook or Instagram?

Coke or Pepsi?

Cats or dogs?
Both - but more...dogs.

Dine-in or take-out?
Dine-in (restaurant)

Apple or Android?

PC or Mac?

Morning or Night?
Night, for sure!

Call or text?

Beethoven or Mozart?
Uhmmmm, I love them both!

Schubert or Dvořák?

Tchaikovsky or Rachmaninoff?

Book or movie?

Mountains or ocean?
Ocean...but I love Mountains as well (I am a Highlander… After my Dad)

Wine or beer?

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars

Musical or opera?