Kwadrofonik was founded in 2006 as a result of a combination of two duos, a percussion and a piano one: Magdalena Kordylasińska and Miłosz Pękala (Hob-Beats Duo) and Emilia Sitarz and Bartłomiej Wąsik (Lutosławski Piano Duo). Together they perform music of the 20th and 21st centuries, transcriptions of symphonic works and their own compositions inspired by traditional, contemporary and popular music.
The band's career began in 2006 with a spectacular victory at the 9th "New Tradition" Folk Music Festival, where the musicians received the Grand Prix, the Audience Award and the Mayor of Warsaw Award. It was then that music critics recognized the ensemble as innovative, setting new trends in folk music. In 2007, Kwadrofonik won the prestigious Special Award of the 3rd European Radio Union (EBU) "Svetozar Stracina" Competition in Bratislava. The award for modernity, innovation and faithfulness to tradition was granted for the first time in the history of this competition. In 2008, the band's debut album, Folklove, was released by the Polish Radio and enthusiastically received by critics. In 2009, the musicians received the Folk Phonogram - a critics' award for the best album of folk music. That very year, the group' compositions were presented in the "Late Junction" programme of BBC3 Radio.
In 2010, during the celebrations of the 200th birthday of Frédéric Chopin, the musicians performed in the renowned Carnegie Hall in New York and in the Chicago Symphony Hall, presenting their project "I Have Been Here. Frédéric"; it combined folk music with Chopin's compositions.
In 2011, they made their debut at the Berlin Philharmonic, presenting, among others, their own version of Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring for two pianos and percussion. The same quartet was hosted at Izumi Hall (Osaka) in Japan and at contemporary music festivals in Moscow and Beijing.
In 2013, Kwadrofonik collaborated with cellist Andrzej Bauer and composer Cezary Duchnowski on a chamber version with electronics of the Cello Concerto by Witold Lutosławski. The same year they began cooperation with the jazz singer Dorota Miśkiewicz; SONY Polska released their joint album containing original arrangements of Witold Lutosławski's children's songs to lyrics by Julian Tuwim: Lutosławski, Tuwim - Songs not Only for Children. In 2014, the album became the Golden Record.
In November 2014 - in connection with the Kolberg celebrations - Kwadrofonik together with the singer Adam Strug prepared The Folk Requiem, a composition inspired by Polish traditional funeral music. The relevant record was released in March 2015 by Polish Radio and the National Audiovisual Institute. It received the title of the Folk Phonogram of the Year and was nominated to the Coryphaeus of Polish Music Award granted by the Institute of Music and Dance in the Event category.
2015 saw the first edition of Kwadrofonik Festival, the ensemble's original project dedicated to contemporary chamber music. The year also brought Kwadrofonik the prestigious Polityka's Passport award, granted to the most prominent young creators of Polish culture. that year the ensemble started working on music for a multimedia show commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Poznań Riots of June 1956, directed by Jan Komasa. The show entitled Xenophonia premiered during the Malta 2016 Theatre Festival.
The group’s most recent, multimedia and “inter-generic” project is The Industrial Symphony: a concert of music composed by Angelo Badalamenti, where Kwadrofonik is accompanied by Artur Rojek. The artists, performing Badalamenti to a visionary film footage by David Lynch, transposed it into their characteristic instruments: piano, vibraphone, percussion instruments, and synthesizers.
Apart from projects based on original compositions or transcriptions (including transcriptions of symphonic works such as Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring or Karol Szymanowski's Mazurkas and Harnasie), the musicians also perform compositions originally created for their instruments. These include e.g. works by Bela Bartók, Georg Crumb, Rolf Wallin, and pieces composed specifically for the ensemble by Polish composers such as Wojciech Ziemowit Zych, Wojtek Blecharz, Sławomir Wojciechowski, and Maciej Jabłoński.
In their compositions and interpretations, the Kwadrofonik musicians enter into a unique dialogue, imperceptibly changing the functions of instruments: the pianos become percussion instruments, while the latter take over the role of melody instruments. They are also known for their use of everyday objects during concerts. Such items reveal their far from obvious auditory qualities (pails with water, cell phones, balloons…). Precision of execution, spontaneity, an inspiring approach to musical material and the gift of establishing direct contact with the audience guarantee full satisfaction of the participants with the sound spectacle created by the group. While working on their own compositions, musicians often follow the path of improvisation, experimentation and pursuits in the area of sound in order to make the most of their instruments.
STEVE REICH: MUSIC FOR 18 MUSICIANS
Clarinets: Krystyna Sakowska, Adrian Janda
Violin: Dagna Sadkowska
Cello: Michał Pepol
Vocals: Iwona Kmiecik, Anna Gadt, Joanna Lalek, Danuta Zbirowska
Grand pianos: Emilia Sitarz, Joanna Opalińska, Bartek Wąsik, Bartek Zajkowski
Percussion instruments: Magdalena Kordylasińska-Pękala, Miłosz Pękala, Hubert Zemler, Paweł Nowicki, Piotr Sołkowicz, Radosław Mysłek
The flourishing of new artistic currents and ideas in the 1960s continues to inspire the creators of modern art. Ironically enough, however, the then protest against and negation of - mainly European - tradition, has by now become classical. Minimalism is a case in point, and 1964 may be seen as the breakthrough year for minimal art. Terry Riley creates his opus magnum – In C; it is seen as the first purely minimalist composition due to the unprecedented pulsation and repetition of the sound motifs. Through his work he distances himself from the art of his friend, the precursor of minimalism La Monte Young and his steady drones, played with no specific rhythm.
Steve Reich attempts his first experiments with cassette tapes, resulting in the fully mechanical It's Gonna Rain, characteristic of his art. Music for Eighteen Musicians, composed in the period 1974-76, is still seen as one of the most magnificent works of mature minimalism, ushering in the post-minimalist period in his oeuvre. Written for a large ensemble of percussion instruments, four pianos, four clarinets, a violin, a cello, and four vocalists, the piece proved that the composer's musical ideas can be translated into a fascinating, intriguing sound language that can be appreciated by a wide audience.
The drama of the music moves from brightness to darkness, only to re-emerge in the light. This path is highlighted by harmony, contingent on a series of eleven cords, quite extensive or a minimalist composition.
Kwadrofonik invited for the creation of the first Polish ensemble specialising in performing repetitive music and evoking the tradition of e.g. Steve Reich and Musicians, Ensemble Modern and Amadinda, eminent musicians associated with both new, avant-garde music and classical one (e.g. Kwartludium, Royal String Quartet, Warsaw Modern Duo, Mosaic). Although Kwadrofonik and Guests is composed of many artistic individualities, what is most significant is their nonverbal bond. Coupled with enthusiasm and creativity, it offers the listeners high-quality music set in the contemporary aesthetic sensitivity.
This promises to be a unique and beautiful journey where every single one of us will be engrossed. Let us move away from our mundane reality and enjoy a music that throbs to the rhythm of our world.