Gagi Petrovic is a composer, performer producer and teacher of music. As a musician and sound artist he mainly works in performative settings, with a versatile taste and diverse expertise. He writes pieces and songs with elements that are acoustic and electronic, intense and intimate, which are something between odd and familiar. Aesthetically his work balances in the grey area of contemporary composition, digital electronics and alternative pop. Conceptually his music often covers themes revolving around oppression, isolation, destruction and what it means to be free.
The use of technology often plays a big role in his creative process, as well as his preference to keep pushing music forward. As a composer he mostly works in an autonomous fashion, where research in freedom of expression and playfully exploring boundaries guides his creative decisions. He has received commissions from organisations such as Gaudeamus, Fringe Festival, Rewire and LeineRoebana, asking him to write for soloist and small ensembles. He releases electro-acoustic albums and performs own works with his custom-built instrument GEST and as a singer-songwriter. Frequently, he produces music for other media too, like contemporary dance, theatre, video art and documentary. He has a special interest in how music moves us both physically and mentally; how such abstract languages enable us to reflect on a particular sense of reality, escape it or even question it.
Choosing Freedom (2021)
for GEST, live eletronics by Gagi Petrovic
Release at Moving Furniture Records: MFR
Collaboration double CD by Matthijs Kouw & Gagi Petrovic
Release at Moving Furniture Records: MFR
Moving Music: sounds from the rocking chair (2020)
Compilation CD, by Matthijs Kouw & Gagi Petrovic – Jade Mineral Razor
Release at Moving Furniture Records: MFR
for five singers, three performative objects and one organ
by Zeno van den Broek & Gagi Petrovic
Release at Unsounds Label: SOUNDS OF THE YOUNG AVANT-GARDE VOL. 02.
dp[a] + hsh (2017)
debut double EP
Release at Moving Furniture Records: MFR046
Honors & Awards
Pre-selection NITE Hotel 2020
– Pre-selected with concept for “Pay to destroy.“, for GEST.
Matthijs Vermeulen Prijs 2017
– Nomination with “Ob-literate” (with Zeno van den Broek)
Nieuwe Makers at Leineroebana (2015-2016)
– One year residency aimed at further developing myself als performer;
– Integrate my experience as electro-acoustic composer and singer-songwriter;
– Develop the instrument GEST for composing and performing electronic music in a more intuitive way;
– Create two solo acts: “Imaginary Conversations” and “Choosing Freedom”.
Impuls Academy 2015
9th International Composers Academy for Contemporary Music, in Graz (Austria)
– Commissioned by Gaudeamus to write the piece “Give more.” for Dario Calderone (extended doublebass)
Composition Beyond Music 2014
– Two week residency with philosophical debate and masterclasses by Peter Ablinger;
– Selected by Gaudeamus as member of Soundlings (network of sound artists);
– Commisioned to create the sound art exhibition Soundroots.
7th International Workshop for Young Composers, in Latvia
– One week residency with lectures and masterclasses by contemporary composers.
Dutch Harp Composition Contest 2014
– Nominated for finals with with “..stRrrct..” (2013)
– Won Third Prize (all ages and nationalities)
V2_ Test_Lab: The Graduation Edition 2013
– Nominated with concert series “Custom Made Music” and the piece “The light that blinds you”
Gaudeamus – The Fascinating Sound of Gamelan (2012)
– Selected to follow intensive workshops for gamelan group “Ensemble Gending”;
– Commissioned to write the piece “Raam tot raam” for contemporary gamelan ensemble and live electronics.
After finishing a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Psychology (2009, University of Amsterdam) and years of being an amateur dancer and musician, Gagi Petrovic studied Music & Technology at the HKU (Utrecht School of the Arts. He specialised in composition and sound art and graduated cum laude in 2013, when he simultaneously finished his Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts. During his education he explored new music making techniques and paradigms by closely collaborating with various classically trained musicians and choreographers.
Since his graduation he has built a fruitful relationship with organisations such as Gaudeamus, V2, Dansmakers and Fringe, which stimulate the production and presentation of new performances. Gagi Petrovic was responsible for a multitude of new compositions which were presented during various festivals.
An example of such a project is his piece ‘stRrrct‘, for harp, voice and live electronics, that in 2014 won him the third prize at the Dutch Harp Competition Contest (all ages and nationalities). After this Gaudeamus sent him to Impuls Academy to participate in the 9th International Workshop for Contemporary Music in Graz (Austria) and he got selected for the 7th International Workshop for Young Composers in Mazsalaca (Latvia). There he took masterclasses and composed a solo piece for double bassist Dario Calderone, that premiered in Graz. The performer integrated this piece ‘Give more.’, for enhanced double bass and live electronics, into his solo repertoire and presented it in various European festivals for contemporary music, such as the Gaudeamus Muziekweek. Gaudeamus then invited him as member of the Soundlings collective to join the residency Compostion Beyond Music led by Peter Ablinger. Here he developed sound art installations as composer, performer, actor and instrument designer.
In 2014 Gaudeamus introduced Gagi Petrovic to sound artist Zeno van den Broek, to co-write a big scale composition. ‘Ob-literate’, for five singers (SSBBB), three performative objects (live electronics) and one organ, was performed across The Netherlands in festivals such as Gaudeamus Muziekweek (Utrecht), Soundsofmusic (Groningen) and multiple times at the Orgelpark (Amsterdam). In 2019 a concert registration of this piece was released at Unsounds, under the new series ‘Sounds of the Young Avant-Garde’.
Between 2014 and 2016 Gagi Petrovic was artist-in-residence with contemporary dance company LeineRoebana, where he interned as composer in 2011-2012. This time is was his goal to “step out of the shadow” and get on stage himself. He developed his skills as performer of his own work. Until this moment he was a multi-instrumentalist that could play keys, guitars, live electronics, voice and flute. For this residence he decided to deepen his skills in singing and live electronics. He took singing classes in pop and classical approach, with respectively Yonathan Keeren and Angelo Custodio. As a performer he was guided by choreographers Andrea Leine and Harijono Roebana. Additionally, with the guidance of STEIM, he built the prototype of his own instrument for electronic music. ‘GEST’ is an interface that lets hand gestures breaking light beams interact with a digital environment based on granular synthesis and audio files. This allows for a more intuitive approach while making and performing electronic music, bringing Gagi Petrovic closer to a personal form of musical expression.
Being an artist-in-residence for almost two years has been a turning point in his career. It resulted in two pieces: ‘Choosing Freedom’ for GEST; and ‘Imaginary Conversations’ for voice and piano. Ever since he has performed these two solo acts separately, or together as a double bill, during various festivals and venues such as Gaudeamus, Soundsofmusic, Fringe, GOLF, Allée Rentree, Bimhuis and Rewire. As singer and GEST-musician he started an intensive collaboration with cellist Maya Fridman with whom he created multiple pieces ‘Constellations’ and did various performances on Dutch stages.
Meanwhile Gagi Petrovic worked on his debut double EP ‘dp[a] + hsh‘, that got released in 2017 at Moving Furniture Records. This album covers two projects: a) his explorations regarding Dysprosody and finding a new musical language, and b) excerpts from music he created for the contemporary dance piece ‘Haschoema‘ by Mouna Laroussi.
In 2019 Gagi Petrovic collaborated with ensemble Trash Panda Collective, creating two pieces together. Afterwards some of this ensemble started a band with him under the name Wormeaters, consisting of flute, saxophone, bass, keys and electronics. In this group he co-composes and plays keys and electronics. In 2020 the band had planned multiple try-out concerts for their new sketches and works, but then COVID-19 struck resulting in a forced break in the band activities.