Agata Zubel: ‘I speak in music’

Composer and soprano Agata Zubel has been called “contemporary music’s multiple threat.” The Seattle Symphony will perform the world premiere of her orchestral work, In the Shade of an Unshed Tear, on October 27 & 29.

“I prefer to speak in sounds and music,” says Agata Zubel. “Music is my language.”

Zubel has been speaking through her music for the last two decades. She is one of today’s most internationally accomplished composers, with commissions from major ensembles and orchestras including the London Sinfonietta, Krakow Philharmonic, Ensemble InterContemporain, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and now the Seattle Symphony.

Music Director Ludovic Morlot and the orchestra will premiere her orchestral work, In the Shade of an Unshed Tear, on October 27 & 29. The piece was written earlier this year in response to a commission from the Seattle Symphony. Zubel says the title, which she invented, has no programmatic meaning. “I hope it reflects the music,” she adds, “but it’s difficult to say how exactly.”

The Polish-born composer is also an accomplished soprano and an expert in contemporary vocal performance. Her repertoire includes masters like Mozart and Puccini, but she is known for her ability to perform virtuosic modern music with a dramatic intensity. She appears on over a dozen albums, including “Stories Nowhere From,” an album of electronic music with pianist and composer Cezary Duchnowski. The duo performs together as ElettroVoce.

Zubel will appear on October 28 as a soloist and composer at [untitled], the Seattle Symphony’s late-night contemporary chamber music series. She will sing her own piece, Chapter 13, and Chantefleurs et chantefables by Witold Lutosławski. “She will do everything possible to bring the music to life and she is such an incredible stage animal. Just to be on stage with her is an experience,” said Mikhail Shmidt, violinist with the Seattle Symphony, in a recent interview for The New York Times.

Shmidt is also a member of the Seattle Chamber Players. Zubel got a breakthrough in 2007 with a commission and premiere by the group. Cascando, written a decade ago, has since been performed by groups around the world. You can listen to the piece below:

When pressed, Zubel is enigmatic about the inspiration behind her music. “I want you to find your own story in the music,” she says.

Hear Agata Zubel’s In the Shade of an Unshed Tear on October 27 & 29 with Music Director Ludovic Morlot and the Seattle Symphony.


Posted on October 17, 2016