Agata Zubel (1978*) was born in Wrocław, where she studied composition with Jan Wichrowski and singing with Danuta Paziuk-Zipser at the Karol Lipiński Music Academy. In 2014 she obtained a habilitation in musical arts. She has received scholarships notably from the Polish Ministry of Culture, Rockefeller Foundation, Ernst von Siemens Foundation, and the City of Wrocław.
She has won numerous awards at both singing and composing competitions. Her repertoire focuses on latest music, including compositions by Bernhard Lang, Salvatore Sciarrino, Philip Glass, Witold Lutosławski, Zygmunt Krauze, Dobromiła Jaskot, and Cezary Duchnowski, with whom she created the ElettroVoce duo. She has cooperated – often in the dual role of performer and composer – with ensembles such as Klangforum Wien, musikFabrik, London Sinfonietta, Eighth Blackbird Ensemble, and Seattle Chamber Players. She has performed in most European countries as well as South Korea, the United States, and Canada.
She has received commissions notably from the Grand Theatre–National Opera of Poland (for the opera–ballet Between in 2010 and for Oresteia, forthcoming). In 2013 her work Not I, recorded by Klangforum Wien and representing the Polish Radio, was awarded the main prize at the 60th UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Prague. A year later, the same work was award the Polonica Nova Music Prize in Wrocław and was recorded by Kairos as part of a monographic CD.
Not I for voice, instrumental ensemble and electronics (2012)
The work is based on Samuel Beckett’s famous monologue under the same title. As a virtuoso vocalist, Agata Zubel was fascinated by the specific situation of the subject speaking in Not I. It is a seventy-year-old woman with painful experiences who has been mute from her childhood. Beckett’s text is one of the rare “episodes” when she can hear her own voice.
Not I is composed of four sections, narrating four events from the woman’s life. The text recounts the deep trauma she once experienced and which crucially influenced her subsequent life. Agata Zubel maintains the original four-section structure of Not I, introducing somewhat different formal and textural solutions in each section, as well as modes and techniques of vocal expression. The vocal part features only a part of Beckett’s original text. The remaining fragments, prerecorded by the composer, are used in the tape part that accompanies the soloist and ensemble.
Not I was premiered by Klangforum Wien in 2012 at the Sacrum Profanum festival in Cracow.