Martyna Kosecka is a composer, conductor, and pianist. She likes to process acoustic instruments electronically, searching for intense timbres and harmonies. Kosecka is inspired by fables and myths from various cultures, and is committed to animating the contemporary music scene in Tehran.
Kosecka was born in 1989 in Gdynia, where she graduated from piano studies at a music school. Later, she moved to Kraków where she studied composition at the Music Academy under the supervision of Krzysztof Mayer. She also obtained a diploma in conducting under Rafał Delekta at the same academy and under Szymon Bywalec in Katowice. Kosecka has participated in numerous competitions organised by artists such as Chaya Czernowin and Beat Furrer, Uroš Rojko and Martin Smolka, and Caspar Johannes Walter and Carola Bauckholt.
She was a finalist of the Tadeusz Baird Young Composers Competition in 2013 and the winner of the 5-Minute Opera Competition organized as a part of Music Biennale in Zagreb in 2015. She was awarded fellowships from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and Sapere Auso Foundation. Her compositions were performed during Warsaw Autumn International Festival for Contemporary Music, AudioArt and aXes in Kraków, Ostrava Days and Music Biennale in Zagreb. In 2013 Martyna Kosecka and Idin Samimi Mofakham founded Spectro Centre for New Music which organises festivals and concerts in Tehran, including the Tehran Contemporary Music Festival.
As Kosecka said of her music in an interview for the Music Biennale in Zagreb:
I like to explore different cultures. I try to understand the everyday life, habits, and ways of thinking of all the cultures I meet on my way. Music is always somewhere in the background of these encounters. When I compose I follow my rules, and when I use traditional music I do it in a very specific and non-obvious way. If I were to name one precise tradition which I discreetly implement in some of my pieces, I would say: Iranian music (…) It is abundant in microtones and complex rhythmic structures, although it is different from the Arabic maquam system or Indian raga, which could be considered dominant in the region of the Middle East or the Indian Subcontinent.
Luciano Berio, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Kazimierz Serocki were Kosecka’s first inspirations. Later in her studies she was inspired by György Ligeti and Witold Lutosławski, and recently – by Salvatore Sciarrina and traditional music. Working as a pianist and conductor (chiefly in the Non-Standard Ensemble which she founded) enabled the artist to get to know many various styles and helped her develop sensibility for sounds and harmony – crucial elements of music. Electronic music is an area that the artist intensely explores: she creates pieces for analogue tapes (Topic: music of pressure), transforms the sounds of acoustic instruments (Ábyssos) or plays live concerts on laptops as SpectroDuo which she founded with her husband, Idin Samimi Mofakhmam.
In terms of aesthetics Kosecka’s pieces combine impressionist, spacious and oneiric timbres with expressionist formal structures, full of tensions and culmination. She uses spectral analysis, registers from both ends of the spectrum, sharp consonances, flickering textures, and intense sounds. She looks for inspirations in intense dance, travelling, exploring foreign cultures, and reading, especially fantasy books.
In a report from the 29th Music Biennale in Zagreb, Dwutygodnik wrote about Kolothó, Kosecka’s 90-minute-long opera which opened the event:
The fairy-tale-like narrative pattern of Kolothó, full of failed efforts and struggling with fate, has been put into a frame which is self-referential on different levels. The spectator is introduced into the story by the teller (ribald Dario Bercich); an oriental belly dancer, Greek moirai Klothó (Dina Dehni Sow), is his alter ego. The dilemmas of the poor are commented on by two four-vocal choirs of day and night fairies. In the maze of figures, Shā King (spectacularly played by the Latvian baritone Nicolas Rigas) turns out to be the actual spiritus movens, who at first plays with his power, but then is terrified of it (…). The music by Kosecka is very intense; she uses dense textures, sharp consonances and vivid timbers. Her music can be seen as an unconventional version of post-expressionism or post-sonorism, although in my opinion Klothó missed a moment of respite – a looser texture or a more intimate scene or aria.
Martyna Kosecka composes quickly, but the first opera piece she created by herself (her previous opera, At the Lethe Waters, was composed with Idin Samimi Mofakhmam) took her quite a long time to accomplish and now serves as a synthesis of her artistic activity. Kosecka also wrote the libretto and divided the storyline between a soloist, choirs, and instruments. Theatrical aspects were present also in her previous pieces such as Passagio II for contrabassist-performer, Akmē for contrabassist-performer and female vocals, or the very expressive Umbra for electronics and three percussionists, who use some everyday objects looking for shelter. Kosecka often puts together instruments of different timbres in order to built acoustic and harmony interferences between them, as in Passagio I or Sia. Her art can be perceived as a personal interpretation of fables (Kochawaya and Klothó) or poetry (Akmē), but also an exploration of atmospheric and geological phenomenons (cloud in Nimbostratus, fog in Nephélēs, rocks in Sial, or stalagmites in ENT1701), which serve as model for musical forms and textures.
Originally written in Polish by Jan Topolski, June 2017. Translated by NC, June 2017.