Agata Zubel, Labyrinth (2011)

    Duration: 10 minutes
    Instrumentation: Voice and chamber ensemble
    Commissioned by the Polish Institute Tel Aviv
    Premiered by Agata Zubel and the Meitar Ensemble on May 14, 2012, at the Henry Crown Hall, Jerusalem Theater in Jerusalem, Israel. The MusicNOW concert March 7, 2016, will mark the work’s U.S. premiere.
    Copyright/Publisher: PWM Edition

    The composer writes:
    “Ringtone. Joanna Stachyra called me and asked for a new piece. A commission from the Polish Institute in Tel Aviv — so, something in earnest. I did not plan to shun it, nor did I plan to get lost, though there were many ideas and pressing thoughts. I did not look for the Labyrinth, and Szymborska’s poetry did not seek me out, either, but somehow we all met halfway. I thought, this kaleidoscope need not turn into chaos. Certainty can very well mix with doubt, but the chief thing is to know what one is aiming at; to be sure that there is a way out other than escape.”

    About the composer:
    Agata Zubel is a composer and vocalist. Known for her unique vocal range and the use of techniques that challenge stereotypes, Zubel gives concerts throughout the world and has premiered many new works. Winner of several competitions, both as singer and composer, she also has received the Passport Award for classical music (2005) of Poland’s Polityka weekly, the Fryderyk Award for her album “Cascando,” the selected work of the 60th UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers (2013), the Polonica Nova Prize (2014), and the Badge of Merit to Polish Culture.

    As a singer and composer, Zubel has collaborated with several dozen festivals and philharmonic companies, as well as the world’s leading ensembles, such as Klangforum Wien, musikFabrik, London Sinfonietta, the Chicago-based ensemble eighth blackbird, Seattle Chamber Players and San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Together with the composer and pianist Cezary Duchnowski, she established the ElettroVoce Duo.

    Her discography contains more than a dozen titles, including albums of original music, “Not I” (KAIROS) and “Cascando” (CD Accord), as well as “Poems,” her vocal interpretations of songs by Copland, Berg and Szymański. Her most recent recording, “Dream Lake” (CD Accord), includes song cycles by Witold Lutosławski and André Tchaikowsky.

    Zubel’s compositions have been commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Hannoversche Gesellschaft für Neue Musik (for Staatsoper Hannover), Westdeutscher Rundfunk (for Neue Vocalsolisten), Ensemble InterContemporain in Paris, Ultraschall Festival in Berlin, the Deutsche Welle in Bonn, the Wratislavia Cantans Festival, and the Grand Theatre National Opera in Warsaw. She graduated from the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław. In 2014, she obtained a post-doctoral degree in musical arts. She is currently a lecturer on the faculty of the Academy of Music in Wroclaw.


    To watch a short video of a Labyrinth performance, click here.

    To watch a 24-minute documentary (in Polish, with English subtitles) about Agata Zubel, click here.