Krzysztof Wołek, composer

Krsysztof Wołek headshot

Krzysztof Wołek (b. 1976, Bytom, Poland) is a composer, improviser, and installation artist. He is currently working as Professor of Music Composition and a Director of Digital Composition Studies at the University of Louisville. He received commissions from the Warsaw Autumn Festival, the Siemens Foundation, SCI/ASCAP, among others, as well as awards, grants and stipends from the University of Chicago, University of Louisville, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Kentucky Arts Council and Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Krzysztof is a passionate advocate of contemporary acoustic and electronic music and multimedia compositions, serves on the jury of the Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition and is a Programming Committee Member of the Warsaw Autumn Festival. He received commissions from the Warsaw Autumn Festival, the Siemens Foundation, SCI/ASCAP, among others, as well as awards, grants and stipends from various institutions such as the University of Chicago, University of Louisville, Kentucky Arts Council, Foundation for Contemporary Arts and Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Krzysztof’s works span a broad spectrum of works from purely acoustic, improvisational and electronic to various forms of multidisciplinary collaborations. They have been presented at many festivals of contemporary music and art in Europe, North and South Americas and Asia.

Krzysztof Wołek's piece 2051: A Space Odyssey premiered with the Grossman Ensemble on December 3, 2021. 


Program notes:

As a composer, I am always trying to create new ways to develop musical form and structure to reflect current times and recent technological developments. The piece 2051: A Space Odyssey is not only inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s epic science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey but directly ties its structure and emotional development to the famous film. It’s has been over 50 years since the release of Kubrick’s seminal film and its cult status is well deserved. Created in the middle of the 20-century space race, the film predicts that by the year 2001 humans will be comfortable with space travel and will be ready to trust artificial intelligence with our lives. From the perspective of 2020 we now see that these predictions did not materialize. The film had no way to anticipate the internet revolution, the development of social media and the effects of social changes. At the same time, one wonders at the incredible artistry of the film, its cinematography, pacing, and tasteful exploration of the themes of existentialism, human evolution and technological advancement. In my piece I experiment with the creation of new and unexpected musical form by tying the structure of the new composition directly to the structure and pacing of the film. The original film used preexisting music as its soundtrack — works that were not composed with the intention to be used in the film but were independent musical compositions. I therefore felt inspired to create a piece that imagines the sound world that could exist on some level as an interpretation of the film. 2051: A Space Odyssey is composed for the Grossman Ensemble. The unique format of working with the ensemble, in which the composer works directly with the musicians over a period of four months in workshops and rehearsals, offers the possibility to experiment with new sounds and sound production techniques and to develop a truly distinctive, collaborative work. This experimentation seems to fit perfectly into the very fabric and theme of 2051: A Space Odyssey which has as its foundation the idea of the exploration of unknown sound worlds and structures.

Grossman Ensemble premieres Krzysztof Wołek's "2051: A Space Odyssey"