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Sacrum Profanum Festiwal

Zbigniew Karkowski

Zbigniew Karkowski (born 1958) was a Polish experimental musician and composer. He studied composition at the State College of Music in Gothenburg, Sweden, aesthetics of modern music at the University of Gothenburg’s Department of Musicology, and computer music at the Chalmers University of Technology. 

After completing his studies in Sweden, he studied sonology for a year at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague, Netherlands. During his education, he also attended many summer composition master courses arranged by Centre Acanthes in Avignon and Aix-en-Provence, France, studying with Iannis Xenakis, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez and Georges Aperghis, among others.


He worked actively as a composer of both acoustic and electroacoustic music. He wrote pieces for large orchestra (commissioned and performed by the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra), plus an opera and several chamber music pieces that were performed by professional ensembles in Sweden, Poland, Switzerland and Germany.

Along with Edwin van der Heide and Atau Tanaka, he was a founding member of Sensorband. In performances by this electroacoustic music performance trio, Karkowski “activated his instrument by the movement of his arms in the space around him; this cut through invisible infrared beams mounted on a scaffolding structure” (Tanaka 2012).

Karkowski lived and worked in Tokyo, Japan, for the last years of his life and was active in the underground noise scene there. Karkowski died of pancreatic cancer in December 2013.