Circular breathing is a technique used by woodwind players that allows them to play for a long time without a break. It involves simultaneously exhaling the air collected through the mouth whilst taking a breath throw the nose.
The idea of co-writing a methodology on how to learn this particular technique playing the flute was initiated by the flutist Natalia Jarząbek under the supervision of her teacher, prof. Barbara Świątek-Żelazna from the Academy of Music in Kraków. During her studies, Natalia learnt on her own how to circular breathe. Thanks to the support of her teacher, prof. Barbara Świątek-Żelazna, she perfected her skills, taking breaths inaudibly and invisibly without disturbing the quality of sound or intonation.
In 2017 Natalia and prof. Świątek-Żelazna received the prestigious Ars Quaerendi award of the Lesser Poland Gouverment to write a book about circular breathing and record a unique CD with pieces that are unable to be recorded on the flute without using this technique. Inspired by the infinite possibility of continuing sound and the capabilities of the flute as a musical instrument, this project has received the name “ Infinity”.
Since its inception the music community has enthusiastically received the news of the Infinity project. Now Natalia and prof. Światek-Żelazna are intensively teaching a group of flutists all over the world, including principal flutists of many great orchestras as well as professors and students alike from universities and conservatoires.
Based on their experience, Natalia and prof. Światek-Żelazna are co-writing a methodology on how to learn this particular technique of circular breathing and preparing exercises and etudes to accompany learning the technique. Thanks to the assistance of British flutist and writer Katy Ovens, this book will also be published in English.
The repertoire for the CD is greatly varied, including transcriptions of pieces for violin or piano (Paganini’s Moto Perpetuo, Chopin’s Etudes, Vitali’s Chaconne), modern pieces for flute (I. Clarke’a The Great Train Race), as well as works commissioned especially for this project. Amongst composers who have agreed to support the project are: prof. Marcel Chyrzynski, Dimitri Arnauts and Tim Mulleman.
Emmy Wils - a young talented pianist from Belgium, student of the Royal Conservatory in Brussels, and the winner of many prestigious piano competitions - will perform the piano part of these pieces. Inspired by the project, Natalia and Emmy started a duo also named “Infinity” in November 2017, playing together not only pieces inspired by circular breathing but also chamber works for flute and piano of various epochs.
The CD has been recorded in October 2018 in Krzysztof Penderecki’s European Music Centre in Lusławice and released by the prestigious DUX label.