Agata Zubel

Agata Zubel, photo:Tomasz Kulak

Composer and singer, born on January 25 1978, in Wrocław.

As a singer, she has participated in many prestigious musical events. Contemporary music occupies a special place in her repertoire. Together with Cezary Duchnowski, she forms the ElettroVoce Duo. In the summer of 2004, she took part in an experimental project of improvisation during a concert commissioned by the International Courses of Composition in Darmstadt.

Over the past few years, she has gained fame as a performer of Witold Lutosławski's Chantefleurs et Chantefables (Musica Polonica Nova, 2006), Bernhard Lang's DW9 (Warsaw Autumn, 2004), Zygmunt Krauze's The Star (electroacoustic adaptation by Cezary Duchnowski at the Polish Theatre in Wrocław, 2005), as well as the role of Phaedra in Dobromiła Jaskot's opera under the same title (Grand Theatre - National Opera, 2006). She has also given concerts abroad: in Italy, Russia, Belgium, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Greece, Denmark, Ukraine, Lithuania, Korea and the United States.


She graduated with honours (Primus Inter Pares) from the Composition Department in the class of Jan Wichrowski and from the Vocal Department under the guidance of Danuta Paziuk-Zipser at the Academy of Music in Wrocław. She continued her studies at the Conservatoruim Hogeschool Enschede in the Netherlands and received scholarships from many prestigious institutions, including the Polish Ministry of Culture, Executive Board of the City of Wrocław, the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, the Young Poland Programme of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage and the Foundation of International Education.



Her music has been performed at numerous festivals, among them, the Warsaw Autumn, Musica Polonica Nova Festival in Wrocław, Audio-Art Festival, the Andrzej Panufnik's Music Days in Kraków, the Poznań Musical Spring, the Adam Didur Festival, Kraków 2000 Festival, Chanterelle Festival, Festival of Polish Music in Kraków, Festival of First Performances Polish Contemporary Music in Katowice, as well as: Alternativa in Moscow, Corso Polonia in Rome, Velvet Curtain in Lviv, Musikhøst Odense in Denmark. Her Symphony No. 2 for 77 musicians (2005), commissioned by Deutsche Welle, had its first performance in 2005 during the Beethoven Festival in Bonn. Subsequent commissions have included String Quartet No.1 (Ultraschall Festival in Berlin, 2007),  of Songs (Wratislavia Cantans Festival, 2007), Cascando (Central European Music Festival in Seattle, 2007), Shades of Ice (London Sinfonietta, 2011), Labyrinth (Polish Institute in Tel Aviv, 2012), What is the Word (Klangforum Wien, 2012), IN (Hannoversche Gesellschaft für Neue Musik for Staatsoper Hannover), Madrigals (Westdeutschen Rundfunks for Neue Vocalsolisten). In 2010 her opera-ballet Between was premiered in the Grand Theatre – National Opera in Warsaw and in 2011 she was commissioned to write another opera for this theatre – Oresteia.

Agata Zubel has won several composition and vocal competitions, among them: first prize and award of the Polish Musical Publishing PWM Edition in 1999 during the Andrzej Panufnik National Composers Competition for her Lumière pour percussion solo (1997), third prize during the Polish Classical Guitar Composition Competition in 2000 for the work Ludia and Fu - guitar solo (1999), as well as first prize and Special Award of the Polish Radio at the Adam Didur National Composers' Competition for the Song about the End of the World / Piosenka o końcu świata - for voice, reciter and instrumental ensemble to the words of Czesław Miłosz (1998), in 2002 - she received the Special Award at Concours Moderne in Chain and First Prize at the Krzysztof Penderecki International Contemporary Chamber Music Competition, in 2003 - the main prize awarded by the Leopold Kronenberg Bank Foundation at the Competition of 20th and 21st Century Music for Young Performers organized by the Polish Society of Contemporary Music, Third Prize during the International Competition for Professional Soloists: Interpretation of Contemporary Music - Nicati 2003 in Switzerland and second prize for Re-Cycle for five percussionists (2001) at the Peter Ivanovich Jurgenson International Composer Competition in Moscow, in 2005 - jointly with Cezary Duchnowski (as the ElettroVoce Duo) she received the special award at the Gaudeamus International Contemporary Music Interpreters Competition in Amsterdam, the Polityka Magazine Passport Award and the Wrocław Musical Award.





In 2011 she was invited as a 'composer-in-residence' to the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco. For two seasons (2010–2012) she was also 'composer-in-residence' in Kraków Philharmonic. One of the highlights of the 2012 Sacrum Profanum Festival was a concert of the Klangforum Wien ensemble, dedicated entirely to her music. In 2013 her composition Not I, recorded with Klangforum Wien and representing Polish Radio, was selected (as the best work in the general category) during the 60th International Rostrum of Composers, and in 2014 the same work received the Polonica Nova Prize.

Since 2003 she has been a member of the Polish Composers' Union.She holds a Ph.D. from the Academy of Music in Wrocław, and in 2014 she obtained a post-doctorate in musical arts. She is currently a lecturer on the faculty of the Academy of Music in Wrocław.  The Ministry of Culture granted her the Medal of Merit to Polish Culture.

Major compositions:

  • Lumière pour percussion solo (1997)
  • Nocturne for violin solo (1997)
  • Birthday for mixed choir a cappella to the words of Wisława Szymborska (1998)
  • Three miniatures for piano (1998)
  • Song about the End of the World for singing voice, reciting voice and instrumental ensemble to the words of Czesław Miłosz (1998)
  • Meditations for mixed choir a cappella to the poems of Jan Twardowski (1999)
  • Ragnatela for bassoon and string orchestra (1999)
  • Ballad for voice, percussion and tape (1999)
  • Ludia and Fu for guitar solo (1999)
  • Photographs from an Album for marimba and string quartet (2000)
  • Parlando for voice and computer (2000)
  • Trivellazione a percussione for percussion (2000)
  • Lentille for string orchestra, voice and accordion (2001)
  • Re-Cycle for five percussionists percussion (2001)
  • Symphony No. 1 for orchestra (2002)
  • Nelumbo for four marimbas (2003)
  • Unisono I for voice, percussion and computer (2003)
  • Unisono II for voice, accordion and computer (2003)
  • Short Stories for voice and prepared piano (2004)
  • Concerto grosso for baroque violin, recorder, harpsichord and two choirs (2004)
  • Symphony No. 2 for 77 performers (2005)
  • String quarter No. 1 for four cellos and computer (2006)
  • Maximum Load for percussion and computer (2006)
  • Cascando for voice, flute, clarinet, violin and cello (2007)
  • of Songs for voice, cello, choir and orchestra (2007)
  • Between opera/ballet for voice, electronics & dancers (2008)
  • 3rd Symfony for double bell trumpet and symphony orchestra (2009)
  • NOT I for voice, chamber ensemble and electronics (2010)
  • Oresteia dramopera for soloists, actors, choir, percussion and electronics (2011)
  • Suite for percussion trio (2011)
  • Aphorisms on Miłosz for soprano and chamber ensemble (2011)
  • The Streets of a Human City for instrumental ensemble (2011)
  • Shades of Ice for clarinet, cello & electronics (2011)
  • Percussion Store for percussion ensemble and orchestra (2012)
  • Labirynt for voice and chamber ensemble (2012)
  • What is the Word for voice and chamber ensemble (2012)
  • Wounded Angel for double bell trumpet (2012)
  • Percussion Store for percussion ensemble and orchestra (2012)
  • Lullaby for mixed choir (2012)
  • In Between the Ebb of Thoughts and the Flow of Sleep for voice, piano and string orchestra (2013)
  • IN for large symphony orchestra (2013)
  • Cadenza for solo violin (2013/14)
  • Where to for instrumental ensemble (2014) 
  • Violin Concerto for violin and chamber orchestra (2014)
  • Madrigals for 5 voices (2015)
  • Chapter 13 for soprano and ensemble (2015)

The composer's website: Agata Zubel

Author: Małgorzata Kosińska, Polish Music Information Centre, Polish Composers' Union, May, 2003; Updated: November, 2015, GS's picture
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Agata Zubel

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