Agata Zubel was born in Wrocław. She graduated with a distinction (the medal “Primus Inter Pares”) from the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław after composition studies with Jan Wichrowski and voice studies with Danuta Paziuk-Zipser. She also studied in the Netherlands and took numerous courses. She has received scholarships from the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Rockefeller Foundation, Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, the Executive Board of the City of Wrocław, and the International Foundation for Education. In 2004 she obtained a doctorate, and in 2014 – a post-doctorate in musical arts. She is currently a lecturer on the faculty of the Academy of Music in Wrocław. She is also a member of the Polish Composers’ Union. The Ministry of Culture granted her the “Medal of Merit to Polish Culture”.
As a vocalist she has participated in many prestigious musical events. Modern music takes pride of place in her repertoire. In 2001, together with the composer and pianist Cezary Duchnowski, she established the ElettroVoce Duo. She has premiered and recorded numerous works by contemporary composers. In the past few years she has performed DW9 by Bernhard Lang (Warsaw Autumn), Luci mie traditrici by Salvatore Sciarrino (Nostalgia Festival), The Star by Zygmunt Krauze (an electroacoustic adaptation by Duchnowski at the Polish Theater in Wrocław), the title role in Phaedra, an opera by Dobromiła Jaskot and Madeline in The Fall of the House of Usher by Philip Glass (the Grand Theatre – Polish National Opera). She received the annual Orpheus Award of Polish music critics for the title role in Duchnowski’s opera Martha’s Garden.
She also participated in an experimental improvisation project during the International Courses of Composition in Darmstadt.
She has given many concerts abroad – in most European countries, in Korea, Canada and the United States. She has worked together with famous modern music ensembles – Klangforum Wien, musikFabrik, London Sinfonietta, Eighth Blackbird Ensemble, Seattle Chamber Players, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players. Her discography consists of more than a dozen albums. Her monographic CDs include, among others, Not I published by KAIROS and the “Fryderyk” Award-winning (2010) Cascando released by CD Accord. The most impressive examples of her vocal interpretations can be found on the album Poems,containing songs by Copland, Berg and Szymański, as well as the “Fryderyk” Award-nominated el Derwid. Blots on the Sun (2014).
She has won several competitions (also international) – in the fields of both voice and composition. At the beginning of 2005, she received the prestigious “Passport” Award of the “Polityka” weekly for classical music. In the same year her 2nd Symphony – commissioned by Deutsche Welle – was premiered during the Beethoven Festival in Bonn. Subsequent commissions have included String Quartet No.1 (Ultraschall Festival in Berlin, 2007), of Songs (Wratislavia Cantans Festival, 2007), Cascando (Central European Music Festival in Seattle, 2007), Shades of Ice (London Sinfonietta, 2011), Labyrinth (Polish Institute in Tel Aviv, 2012), What is the Word (Klangforum Wien, 2012), IN (Hannoversche Gesellschaft für Neue Musik for Staatsoper Hannover), Madrigals (Westdeutschen Rundfunks for Neue Vocalsolisten). In 2010 her opera-ballet Between was premiered in the Grand Theatre – National Opera in Warsaw and in 2011 she was commissioned to write another opera for this theatre – Oresteia.
In 2011 she was invited as a “composer-in-residence” to the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco. For two seasons (2010–2012) she was also “composer-in-residence” in Kraków Philharmonic. One of the highlights of the 2012 Sacrum Profanum Festival was a concert of the Klangforum Wien ensemble, dedicated entirely to her music. In 2013 her composition Not I, recorded with Klangforum Wien and representing Polish Radio, was selected (as the best work in the general category) during the 60th UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers, and in 2014 the same work received the “Polonica Nova” Prize.