Polish composers and artists featured at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival 2015 (hcmf//)

Vocal pyrotechnics, uncompromising minimalism, psychedelic folk and extreme noise from Poland are all on offer at UK’s leading new music festival

Agata Zubel

20-29 November 2015
Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival

Various venues
More info


Britain’s leading new music celebration, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (hcmf//), this year profiles the vibrant Polish contemporary music scene – from vocal pyrotechnics, uncompromising minimalism to psychedelic folk and extreme noise – introducing new and established composers and performers to British audiences throughout the ten-day festival. 

hcmf//’s Polish focus is generously supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polska Music programme and the Polish Cultural Institute London, and marks the beginning of on ongoing relationship between the organisations.

This year's Festival – the 38th edition – runs from Friday, November 20 – Sunday, November 29, 2015.

hcmf// is Britain's leading contemporary music

festival. Regarded as a weather-vane for the state of contemporary music in all its forms – embracing contemporary classical, jazz, improvisation, sound art and noise – the Festival is a 'must' for audiences, composers, ensembles and commentators from all over the world.

The Festival’s opening night (Friday, November 20) introduces two of Poland’s most distinctive young creators Agata Zubel and Jagoda Szmytka.



Agata Zubel is a composer-vocalist of multiple and formidable gifts. At hcmf//’s opening concert she appears with Austrian supergroup Klangforum Wien as soloist in her own visceral setting of Beckett’s Not I, veering between guttural spluttering and otherworldly song, her voice multiplying into an electronic mob.

Young British group, The Riot Ensemble, continue hcmf//’s opening night celebrations at Huddersfield's hippest venue, Bates Mill, with a multimedia portrait concert of Jagoda Szmytka whose works – frequently referencing the virtual landscapes of social media –  weave sounds, images and texts into multi-layered constellations. Szmytka’s work is also included in Frankfurt-based Ensemble Interface’s concert later in the Festival (Monday, November 23).

Tomasz Sikorski (1939-1988) and Zbigniew Karkowski (1968-2013) exemplify radically different approaches to music making.  While Sikorski was a philosopher-minimalist concerned with the meditative properties of his compositions, Karkowski was a pioneering noise musician who allegedly cracked toilets and blew out speakers in his quest to unlock a higher frequency. Both are profiled at this year’s hcmf//: Veteran British pianist John Tilbury and contemporary music collective Noszferatu XL give an all-Sikorski concert as part of free-wheeling late-nighter at Bates Mill (Saturday, November 21), to be broadcast live by BBC Radio 3. Karkowski’s music is performed by Franco-Polish composer/performer Kasper T Toeplitz (Saturday, November 21); in a percussion & bass concert by Daniel Buess and Aleksander Gabrys, exploring the composer’s debt to Xenakis (Tuesday, November 24), and by his friend and collaborator Anton Lukoszevieze with his ensemble Apartment House, who perform Karkowski’s elemental Field (2006) for amplified string quartet and live-electronics, in a new version devised in 2012 by Karkowski in collaboration with Lukoszevieze (Friday, November 27).

Polish sound artist, composer and improviser Robert Piotrowicz teams up with Ensemble Phoenix (CH) for an unmissable programme including  two of Piotrowicz’s own works (Sunday, November 22). Piotrowicz’s output features saturated, complex structures created with computers and analogue synthesisers, leading to works of powerful dynamics grasped within dramatic forms.

Delicate and sinister, cult psychedelic folk music group Księżyc (Monday, November 23) offers something completely different; the spirit of Księżyc captures medieval music with a sound rooted in the Slavic tradition, inspired by vocal techniques of folk singers from Ukraine, Lithuania and Bulgaria, combined with elements of minimalism and vocal experiments of the 20th century. Their concert at hcmf// 2015 will be the first presentation of a new repertoire in the UK.

Finally, Polish synthesiser constructor and experimental musician Mirt and Norwegian voice virtuoso Maja S K Ratkje come together (Saturday, November 28) to reinterpret compositions by Arne Nordheim and Eugeniusz Rudnik.


Their concert forms part of the Eastern Waves project organised by Foundation 4.99, dedicated to the long history of collaboration between Polish and Norwegian electronic music composers, mainly in the Polish Radio Experimental Studio.

Other much-anticipated highlights of this year's hcmf// include UK Premieres of new works by American composers La Monte Young, George Lewis and John Zorn, as well as performances by the London Sinfonietta, the Berlin Splitter Orchester and the Arditti Quartet.





Fri November 20           6pm     St Paul’s Hall, Huddersfield

Klangforum Wien (Austria)

Clement Power (conductor) Agata Zubel (soprano)

Programme includes:

Agata Zubel     Not I (2010)  - UK Premiere


Fri November 20           9.30pm Bates Mill Blending Shed, Huddersfield

The Riot Ensemble (UK)

Aaron Holloway-Nahum (conductor)

Programme includes:

Jagoda Szmytka (1982, Poland) GAMEBOY (2015) - UK Premiere

Jagoda Szmytka (1982, Poland) sky-me, type- me (2011) - UK Premiere

Jagoda Szmytka (1982, Poland) empty music  (2014) - UK Premiere


Sat November 21          10pm    Bates Mill Blending Shed, Huddersfield

Bailey / Sikorski / Frey

Evening includes:

John Tilbury + Noszferatu XL (UK)


Tomasz Sikorski (1939 - 1988, Poland) Autograph (1980)

Tomasz Sikorski (1939 - 1988, Poland) Zerstreutes Hinausschauen (1971)

Tomasz Sikorski (1939 - 1988, Poland) Echoes 1-4


Sun November 22         4pm     Bates Mill Blending Shed, Huddersfield

Ensemble Phoenix + Robert Piotrowicz (electronics) (CH/Poland)

Programme includes:

Robert Piotrowicz (1973, Poland) Grund  - UK Premiere

Robert Piotrowicz (1973, Poland) Apendic  - UK Premiere


Mon November 23        7pm     St Paul’s Hall, Huddersfield     

Ensemble Interface (DE)

Programme includes:

Jagoda Szmytka Pores open wide shut  – UK Premiere


Mon November 23        8.45pm St Thomas’ Church, Huddersfield         

Księżyc (Poland)

Psychedelic folk – first UK presentation of new repertoire

More info

To read about the UK tour of Księżyc after the festival click here.

To read about the new album released by Penultimate Press click here.


Mon November 23        10.50pm Bates Mill Photographic Studio, Huddersfield

Kasper T Toeplitz (bass guitar / electronics) (FR)

Programme includes:

Zbigniew Karkowski (1958 – 2013, Poland) Fluster  (2010) - UK Premiere


Tues November 24        4pm     Bates Mill Blending Shed, Huddersfield

Karkowski / Xenakis

Daniel Buess (percussion), Aleksander Gabrys (double bass)

Programme includes:

Zbigniew Karkowski (1958 - 2013, Poland) Form & Disposition (2008)

Zbigniew Karkowski (1958 - 2013, Poland) Studio Varèse (2013) - UK Premiere


Fri November 17           11pm    Bates Mill Blending Shed, Huddersfield            

Apartment House (UK)

Programme includes:

Zbigniew Karkowski (1958 - 2013) Field amplified string quartet and live- electronics  

- UK Premiere


Sat November 28          4pm     Phipps Hall, University of Huddersfield

Eastern Waves (Poland/Norway)

Mirt (synthesizer), Maja S K Ratkje (voice / electronics)

Mirt Solitaire) - UK Premiere

Maja S K Ratkje In Dialogue with Eugeniusz Rudnik  - UK Premiere



To read more about hcmf// 2015 go to hcmf.co.uk

Online Booking: hcmf.co.uk; Telephone booking: +44 (0) 1484 430528


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