In 2013, a group of Cracow-based instrumentalists shared stage as part of the European Workshop for Contemporary Music, conducted by Rüdiger Bohn. Having later played together at Darmstadt’s International Summer Courses for New Music, the musicians, encouraged by Martyna Zakrzewska, Mateusz Rusowicz, and Piotr Peszat, established an independent collective. A few events held in a community centre near one of the city’s exit roads and in a then neglected and declining theatre/cinema marked the beginnings of Spółdzielnia Muzyczna (Musical Cooperative) contemporary ensemble, a group specialising in performing new music.
Spółdzielnia Muzyczna have appeared repeatedly at Poland’s leading music events, including Warsaw Autumn, Cracow’s Sacrum Profanum, Audio Art, ELEMENTI, aXes, Musica Moderna in Łódź, NeoArte in Gdańsk, and the Festival of Traditional and Avant-garde Music Codes in Lublin. In 2020 the group performed at the Young Musicians to the Young City 2.0 festival in Stalowa Wola, thus contributing to one of Poland’s formative cyclic contemporary music events being reinstituted After a hiatus of forty years. In the 2019/20 season the ensemble presented their original programmes of 20thand 21st-century classics as part of the Ars Moderna series hosted by the Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic in Cracow. 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 Cracow the group themselves run several educational activities in the field of new music. While instrumental workshops as well as competitions for young composers have been held, what remains the ensemble’s largest-scale pursuit in this domain is the series titled Open Your Ears. Here and Now: live illustrated lectures on the most prominent and inspiring artists of, and approaches to, musical composition, given so far in twenty-three 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 composers such 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.