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Szmytka, Jagoda

Born in Legnica in 1982, she studied history of art, philosophy, and music theory in Wrocław, and later composition with Beat Furrer (Graz and Frankfurt am Main), Pierluigi Billone (Graz), and Wolfgang Rihm (Karlsruhe). She received scholarships from the DAAD and Kunststiftung Baden–Württemberg, as well as a residency at La Muse en Circuit (France). Many-time composer-in-residence at ZKM Karlsruhe; in 2016 she will be artist-in-residence at Villa Serpentara (with funds granted by the Akademie der Künste Berlin). She also won the Staubach Honorarium and the Stipend Prize of the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt.

Jagoda Szmytka composes contextual music for the ear, eye, and for thinking. Her audiovisual compositions, written for various amplified formations and mixed media, are organised in the form of rhizomatic connections between sounds, images, and texts. These multilayered, rhizomatic constellations are composed so as to send a message that polarises the point of view on art and social issues, touches the present, and influences both everyday life and the musical world. Szmytka examines social and interpersonal processes: communication and constitution of identity, often in relation to phenomena such as the internet and globalisation (sky-me type-me, empty music, LIMBO LANDER, LOST). In some works she refers directly to processes taking place in musical life by analysing the functioning of ensembles and the structure of culture institutions (For Hands and Voices). Her composition method (social or community composing) depends on creating social music “for people,” “with people,” and “about people”: music involved in topics important for the whole society as well as community music, making use of and topicalising social media.

At the centre of her art, Jagoda Szmytka puts the individual (the human being, musician, player or user) and the group (the society, communities, ensembles and institutions). She triggers and studies interpersonal processes, composing from the perspective of a performer, player, or user. When she begins work on a new work for ensemble, she not only sends impulses that stimulate the ensemble members’ reactions and interactions, but she herself takes part in the performance. Thus the initial phase of work on a new piece frequently resembles a forum in which the players exchange opinions, experiences, and ideas. In this sense, composing is an interpersonal, interactive process, occurring through communication and negotiation. Each piece composed in this manner refers to themes that are currently of interest to the group taking part in this project; thus, it goes beyond the composer’s private aims. A composition’s value acquires an ethic dimension. A piece proves a success if it provides a stimulus for reflection and change, and if participation in the creative process stimulate at least one of the players to think. What counts first and foremost is the playing itself: “play music and send a smart message.”

Jagoda Szmytka’s music has been performed notably at Warsaw Autumn, Eclat New Music Festival (Stuttgart), International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt, Ultraschall (Berlin), Wien Modern, German Radio in Cologne, Lucerne Festival, Akademie der Künste (Berlin), Royaumont, and the National Opera in Warsaw. She has collaborated with Ensemble Interface, Ensemble Garage, ensemble recherche, ensemble mosaik, Ensemble L’Arsenale, European Workshop for Contemporary Music, the duo leise dröhnung, MAM.Manufaktur für Aktuelle Musik, and Kwartludium. Jagoda Szmytka is the founder and leader of PLAY– Platform for Art and Culture Initiatives in Frankfurt.


Major works: KOERPERWELTEN, audiovisual composition for hyperamplified string ensemble and fixed media (2008), Study of Who Where When, audiovisual composition for prepared piano, metronome, voice recorders and fixed media (2009), Just Before After for ensemble (2010), Open the Box for amplified accordion (2010), Watch Out! Of the Box, audiovisual composition for amplified cello, piano and mixed media (2011), sky−me, type−me for voices with megaphones (2011), electrified memories of bloody cherries for amplified ensemble (2011), hand saw weltAll-Stars. generously for amplified ensemble (2011−12), for travellers like angels or vampires for amplified ensemble (2012), Handplay in Wunderkammer, sound installation for suspended string instruments and contact loudspeakers (2012), Happy Deaf People, music theatre (2012), Oh no, I’ve lost my lofty bow for amplified ensemble (2012), f* for music for electric guitar and amplified cello (2013), greetings from a doppelganger for amplified ensemble and contact loudspeakers (2013), For Hands and Voices, chamber opera (2013), Inane Prattle for amplified trumpet and ensemble (2013), pores open wide shut for flute, cello, piano, percussion and PowerPoint presentation (2014), empty music, audiovisual composition for clarinet, viola, cello, piano, percussion and mixed media (2014), LIMBO LANDER, audiovisual performance for amplified ensemble and mixed media (2014), GAMEBOY, audiovisual composition for sampler, voice and video (2014), LOST, transmedia composition for multiplied Singer and Soloist, real and simulated ensemble and listeners, users or players, with possible active participation (2015).