B i o g r a p h y
Adam Kujawa is a Nashville, Tennessee based violinist, specializing in classical and alternative styles.
Adam was born and raised in Morton, Illinois. He began playing the violin in sixth grade, though his school district’s music program. When asked why he chose to play the violin over other instruments, he jokes that the choice was made for him. “I originally wanted to play the saxophone, but I got braces in fifth grade, and they told me I’d have to relearn how to play once my teeth were straight.” Adam ultimately chose the violin after a demonstration from the Morton Junior High orchestra director. “I tried it out, and thought it might be fun. And it didn’t require using my mouth, so I was pretty set on it after that.”
“I originally didn’t like playing violin very much. It was really difficult, I didn’t practice much, and wasn’t something I was really into at first. I started out as last chair of our orchestra.” Adam credits his parents for motivating him, and for helping him discover his love of the instrument. “We focused a lot on classical music in orchestra, which I thought was boring for the longest time. My parents bought me sheet music for songs I liked, and I would learn them on the violin.” This led to Adam practicing more, and developing his technique and training his ear. “I started trying to learn songs on the radio just by listening to them, and figuring out how to play them. It made playing the violin really enjoyable for me.” Adam was seated second chair of the orchestra by the end of that school year, and remained in the position until graduation.
Adam’s Junior High and High School years were very crucial to his development as a musician. He began taking private violin lessons with Kristin Witzig (now Kristin Schmidt), who helped his playing immensely. “I studied with Kristin for 6 years. She was an amazing teacher and was so supportive.” During these years, Adam also joined multiple ensembles, including the Peoria Pops Orchestra and the Central Illinois Youth Symphony organization. “Being a member of the Pops was so amazing. I progressed so much during this time, and the music was so fun.” Adam was also a member of his high school orchestra, and small chamber ensemble Prelude.
Around his sophomore year of high school, Adam discovered his passion for classical music as well. “My family likes to go to antique stores and flea markets a lot. I remember one we went to where I bought a bunch for CDs for like, 10 cents each. I got one of Pinchas Zuckerman playing the Mendelssohn violin concerto. We listened to it in the car on the way home and immediately I said “Oh my gosh, this is so cool. I need to learn to play this.”
Adam also began performing solo during these formative years. “I played at my grandma’s church a lot, and would do performances at local nursing homes. I loved doing this; it always made them so happy to have someone coming in to perform for them. It was really rewarding to be able to bring them that happiness.” These types of performances were also enjoyable for Adam, because he could play alternative genres of music without being criticized.
“I was labeled as this ‘trouble-maker’ in the classical community for playing styles other than classical. I had one lady tell me it ‘ruined the integrity of the violin’ and another that told my private teacher to give up on me. It was really rough sometimes. I’m really thankful for the members of the Pops, my parents, and my teachers for always supporting me, even when others didn’t.”
In 2015, Adam moved away from central Illinois to begin studies at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. “Belmont seemed like the perfect school for me. I visited and auditioned at a lot of other schools, but Belmont really had exactly what I wanted.”
While at Belmont, Adam studied both classical violin and alternative styles, and performed with almost every ensemble the University offered: Symphony Orchestra, String Chamber Orchestra, Oratorio Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, New Music Ensemble, string quartets, Jazz Septet, and various vocal ensembles.
In May of 2019, Adam became the first person to graduate from Belmont University with two Bachelor of Music degrees; one in Violin Performance and one in Commercial Music.
Since August of 2019, Adam has been attending Middle Tennessee State University, where he received a full scholarship. He is studying classical violin with Dr. Andrea Dawson, in order to earn his Master of Music. While studying at MTSU, he is a Graduate Teaching Assistant under Dr. Carol Nies and Dr. Andrea Dawson. At MTSU, Adam has performed with the Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Concert Orchestra, Musical Theatre productions, and with several chamber groups.
Throughout his career, Adam has had some amazing performance opportunities. These include countless performances with the Peoria Pops Orchestra, the Central Illinois Youth Symphony, the Illinois Wesleyan University Civic Orchestra, IMEA All-State Orchestra, Nashville Composer's Collective, Trevecca Symphony Orchestra, and Nashville Cinematic Orchestra, and the Nashville Reading Orchestra. He has also played in multiple pit orchestras, for opera, ballet, and musical theater, multiple studio sessions, and performed in two PBS specials, working with Kathy Mattea and Sheryl Crow.
He has studied with numerous professionals and private teachers including Kristin Schmidt, Dr. Sarah Gentry (Illinois State University), Maestro David Commanday (Heartland Festival Orchestra), Dr. David Wallace (Berklee), Dr. Marcia Henry Liebenow (Peoria Symphony, Bradley University), Elisabeth Rust (Peoria Symphony), Dr. EmmaLee Holmes Hicks, Rachel Barton Pine, Mark Wood, Billy Contreras, Tammy Rogers King, Elisabeth Small (Belmont University), Ryan Joseph (Alan Jackson), Dr. Terry Durbin (University of Louisville), Hal Grossman (University of Louisville), Alison Gooding Hoffman (Nashville Symphony), and Dr. Andrea Dawson (Middle Tennessee State University).