In 2013, a group of Kraków-based instrumentalists shared stage as part of the European Workshop for Contemporary Music, conducted by maestro Rüdiger Bohn. Having then played together at Darmstadt’s Internationale Ferienkurse für Neue Musik, the musicians—persuaded by Martyna Zakrzewska, Mateusz Rusowicz, and Piotr Peszat—established an independent body. A couple of events held in a community centre by one of the town’s exit roads and in a then neglected and declining theatre-slash-cinema marked the beginnings of Spółdzielnia Muzyczna contemporary ensemble (literally, ‘Musicians Associated’—but we would like to remain known under our Polish name), a group who specialise in performing new music.
Spółdzielnia Muzyczna have been featured repeatedly at the town’s as well as the country’s most important music events, including the International Festival of Contemporary Music ‘Warsaw Autumn’, Kraków’s Sacrum Profanum, Audio Art, ELEMENTI, and aXes, Musica Moderna in Łódź, NeoArte in Gdańsk, and the Festival of Traditional and Avantgarde Music ‘KODY’ in Lublin. In 2020 the group performed at the Młodzi Muzycy Młodemu Miastu 2.0 festival in Stalowa Wola, so contributing to one of Poland’s formative cyclical contemporary music events being reinstituted after a hiatus of forty years. In the 2019/2020 season the ensemble presented their original programmes of 20th- and 21st-century classics with the ‘ARS MODERNA’ series hosted by the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic in Kraków. In 2021 the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation provided support for the structural and artistic development of Spółdzielnia Muzyczna, awarding them one of that year’s prestigious Ensemble Prizes.
During the summer of 2018 Spółdzielnia Muzyczna participated in the Ensemble-Akademie Freiburg, a contemporary chamber music masterclass where they learned from ensemble recherche. In their hometown of Kraków the group themselves pursue several educational activities within the field of new music: while instrumental workshops as well as competitions for young composers have taken place, what remains the ensemble’s largest-scale pursuit in this domain is the series titled ‘Open Your Ears. Here and Now’—that is, live and illustrated lectures on the most prominent and inspiring artists of, and approaches to, musical composition, given so far in twenty-four original, individually themed editions.
In their programmes Spółdzielnia combine pieces from the greatest figures of 20th-century music with compositions by established and emerging leaders of younger generations, also embracing experimentation and multimedia. The ensemble’s repertoire covers such composers as Giacinto Scelsi, Olivier Messiaen, Pierre Boulez, Luciano Berio, Morton Feldman, Franco Donatoni, George Crumb, Georges Aperghis, Salvatore Sciarrino, Gérard Grisey, Paweł Szymański, Hanna Kulenty, Cezary Duchnowski, Trond Reinholdtsen, Matthew Shlomowitz, Artur Zagajewski, Alexander Schubert, Johannes Kreidler, Brigitta Muntendorf, Jagoda Szmytka, Piotr Tabakiernik, Marta Śniady, Christophe Bertrand, Jarosław Płonka, Jacek Sotomski, Piotr Peszat, and Paweł Malinowski.
The ensemble currently comprises:Małgorzata Mikulska
clarinets | digitsKrzysztof Guńka
violin, viola | schedulingBarbara Mglej
violin, viola | papersJakub Gucik
cello | technologyAleksander Wnuk
piano, MIDI | visionPiotr Peszat
composition, electronicsOlga Brewka