Multi-dimensional Music Career Started at Central

Ashia Grzesik had no idea she would be running off to join the circus during her junior year at CWU, but that’s exactly what ended up happening.

Bison Rouge a Cello GO Long ft Laura Stromp

Ashia Grzesik ('04) has enjoyed a successful, rewarding music career in the U.S. and Europe.

Even before the multi-talented cellist and vocalist had completed her musical performance degree, she moved to Las Vegas to perform with the internationally renowned Cirque du Soleil production of “O.”

Grzesik (’04) spent four years in the band for the iconic stage production, completing her remaining CWU credits during her free time. While she genuinely enjoyed being a Cirque du Soleil cast member, she couldn’t ignore the feeling that something was missing. Deep down, she missed connecting with the audience.

“It was an incredible experience, and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to be part of such a large production, but I missed feeling the energy from the audience,” Grzesik said, explaining that she and her bandmates were situated above the crowd in the theater. “I decided that I needed to branch out, so I moved to Portland, joined the Portland Cello Project and Vagabond Opera, and became a solo artist.”

After exploring her versatility for a few years in the Pacific Northwest, Grzesik began transitioning her solo project to Central Europe, signing with a label in Germany. She moved to Berlin in 2014 and has been there ever since, recording, performing, and teaching music.

“For the first couple of years, I was writing pieces and performing them for various production shows in Berlin while touring my solo project,” said Grzesik, a native of Poland who moved to the Seattle area with her family when she was 10 years old. “But after my son was born in 2016, there came many changes to my career. I still do some traveling, but I mostly stay close to home.”

Over the past few years, Grzesik has been spending a lot of her time teaching cello through a music school in Germany. All the while, she continues to explore a number of side ventures, including her acclaimed Bison Rouge project, which combines electronic, symphonic, and ambient influences to create a sound all her own.

“Bison Rouge is an artistic concept—an entirely new sound—that I’ve been developing over the past couple of years,” she said. “It’s a really vivid and intense show that I perform in techno clubs and festivals around Berlin. It’s becoming more a special events thing, and I always enjoy getting out and performing for people whenever I have the chance.”

Creating music and bringing it to life for others has been Grzesik’s lifelong passion, and she points to her CWU training as a catalyst for what has become a wide-ranging and deeply satisfying musical career.

The ability to explore various forms of artistic expression—and being encouraged by her professors to pursue multiple musical disciplines—provided Grzesik with the foundation she would need to carve out an eclectic path as a musician.

“John Michel encouraged us to not just stick to only classical styles,” she said of her CWU cello professor, who helped her land the audition with Cirque du Soleil.

“He supported me in taking singing lessons and learning composition, in addition to exploring different ways of playing the cello. Having so many different influences helped me become a multi-dimensional musician, and I have been able to create a style of my own. Even after all these years, CWU is a big part of who I am.”

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