Gagi Petrovic

composer, performer, producer and teacher of music

About

Short Bio

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.

Discography

  • 2021 | Choosing Freedom

    for GEST, live electronics by Gagi Petrovic

    To be released on CD and digital at Moving Furniture Records: MFR

  • 2021 | Recalcitrance

    Collaboration double CD by Matthijs Kouw & Gagi Petrovic

    Released on CD and digital at Moving Furniture Records: MFR090

  • 2020 | Kamerkoor JIP – The First Five Years

    Featured on ‘best of’ compilation CD of chamber choir, with the piece Zid (2013)

    Released on CD and digital.

     

     

  • 2020 | Moving Music: sounds from the rocking chair

    Featured on compilation CD, with the piece ‘Jade Mineral Razor’ by Matthijs Kouw & Gagi Petrovic.

    Released on CD and digital at Moving Furniture Records

     

    A Moving Furniture Records Compilation

    • In December 2019 we had a crowdfunding campaign to support
      us into the year 2020. For this we asked several of our musicians
      if they could contribute to this campaign. From this the compilation Moving Music: Sounds From The Rocking Chair grew.
      In total 24 musicians submitted their creativity to make a total of
      16 tracks. Aside from some exclusive solo tracks there are also 10
      collaborations with unique combinations of musicians. To name a
      few: TVO & Jos Smolders, Radboud Mens & BJ Nilsen, Matthijs
      Kouw & Gagi Petrovic, and many more.
  • 2018 | Ob-literate

    for five singers, three performative objects and one organ

    Composed by Zeno van den Broek & Gagi Petrovic

    Released on LP, CD and digital at Unsounds Label: SOUNDS OF THE YOUNG AVANT-GARDE VOL. 02.compo

  • 2017 | dp[a] + hsh

    Debut double EP

    • Concept dp[a]
      Dysprosody is a very rare speech disorder that can manifest itself in several ways, such as unconventional changes in pitch, volume and rhythm while talking. This could be seen as a nuisance and unwanted deviation on established ways of communication, or as a new opportunity for truly expressing oneself. This is the result of my first attempt on the latter.
    • Concept hsh
      The word Haschoema means ‘shame on you’ and is used in the Moroccan community when someone’s behaviour is inappropriate – especially if that someone is a woman. This single word expresses an understanding, a feeling and a certain tension.
      When choreographer Mouna Laroussi from Dansmakers Amsterdam commissioned me to write music for her dance duet revolving around this theme of social control, my assignment became clear: to capture oppression.

    Released on CD and digital at Moving Furniture Records: MFR046

Honors & Awards

  • 2020 | FPK Werkbijdrage Muziekauteur

    Received grant for creating two new works:

    • ‘Unfold Yourself’, a studio album.
    • ‘Vox Populi’, a live performance and EP, for voice and GEST.

    Made possible by Performance Art Fund NL.

  • 2017 | Matthijs Vermeulen Prijs (nomination)

    Nomination with ‘Ob-literate’ (with Zeno van den Broek)

  • 2015-2016 | Nieuwe Makers at Leineroebana

    Two year residency aimed at further developing myself as performing artist, in Amsterdam (NL):
    – 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, kickstarting prototyping with a two week residency at STEIM;
    – Develop myself as singer and performer;
    – Create two solo acts: ‘Imaginary Conversations and ‘Choosing Freedom’

  • 2015 | Impuls Academy

    9th International Composers Academy for Contemporary Music, in Graz (Austria):
    – Commissioned by Gaudeamus to write the piece Give more.’ for Dario Calderone (extended doublebass)
    – Attending masterclasses of composers and instrumentalists, live rehearsals and concerts

  • 2014 | Composition Beyond Music

    Two week residency led by Peter Ablinger, in Utrecht (NL):
    – Philosophical debates and masterclasses
    – Selected by Gaudeamus as member of Soundlings (network of sound artists)
    – Commissioned to create the sound art exhibition Soundroots’, presented during Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2014

  • 2014 | 7th International Workshop for Young Composers

    One week residency in Mazsalaca (Latvia)
    – Lectures, discussions with, and masterclasses by contemporary composers (a.o. Oscar Bianchi) and other young international composers

     

  • 2014 | Dutch Harp Composition Contest (finals)

    Third Prize (all ages and nationalities)
    – Nominated for finals with stRrrct’ (2013)

  • 2013 | V2_ Test_Lab: The Graduation Edition

    Nominated with concert series Custom Made Music and the piece The light that blinds you’ (2012-2013)

  • 2012 | Gaudeamus: The Fascinating Sound of Gamelan

    Intensive workshops with contemporary gamelan group Ensemble Gending:
    – Commissioned to write the piece ‘Raam tot raam’ for gamel and ensemble and live electronics
    – Composition presented during Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2012

Education

  • 2020-present | Singing lessons, with Elea Bekkers

    Private lessons, working on understanding my instrument better and refining my skill as a performer.

  • 2016-present | GEST, autodidact instrument design

    Skills include:

    • SuperCollider (system design, data analysis and custom granular synthesis)
    • Arduino (light sensors)
    • Algorithmic Composition
    • Gestural performance
  • 2017-present | Voice Acting, autodidact

    Through interactive storytelling, with tabletop roleplaying games such as Dungeons & Dragons.

  • 2017-2018 | Didactische Bekwaamheid B (Didactic Competence)

    Internal course for experienced teachers of the HKU to increase their skillset for offering adequate teaching to young adults.

  • 2015-2017 | Singing and speaking lessons, with Angelo Custodio and Yonathan Keren

    Private lessons, working on finding my voice. Techniques from classical and light music. Part of the Nieuwe Makers residency at LeineRoebana.

  • 2015-2016 | Basiskwalificatie Examinering A (Qualification Examination)

    Internal course for teachers of the HKU to become an official examiner.

  • 2009-2013 | Composition Electronic Music, Bachelor of Music & Master of Arts (cum laude)

    Utrecht School of Arts (HKU), faculty Music & Technology (Utrecht, NL)

    • specialisation in Composition and Sound Art
  • 2011-2012 | Internship at LeineRoebana

    Contemporary Dance Company, specialised in working with live music and living composers.

    • Follow creative process of choreography, rehearsals, production and performance of the new piece ‘Ghost Track’.
    • Analyse ouvre of LeineRoebana, on interdependence between sound and movement.
    • Composition, arrangement and musical leadership for new solo piece ‘Dans door Tim Persent, a Dance Concert’, of jubilee of dancer Tim Persent.
    • Composition of concert piece ‘Ongewenst’, for wind trio.
  • 2008-2011 | Singing lessons, with Renée Harp

    Private lessons in classical repertoire.

  • 2008-2009 | Basisopleiding Music & Technology

    Part-time preparatory year for orientation of educations at Utrecht School of Arts (HKU).

  • 2007-present | Piano, autodidact

  • 2007-2008 | Ballet at Danshuis Haarlem

    Course includes:

    • classical ballet
    • contemporary dance (Martha Graham technique)
  • 2005-2010 | Dancer & Live Musician, for contemporary dance

    Participation and co-creation as amateur performer. Multiple productions with Danshuis Haarlem, presented in The Netherlands, France and Spain.

  • 2004-2009 | Psychology, Bachelor of Science

    University of Amsterdam, specialised in Clinical Psychology.

  • 2003-present | Guitar and Melodica, autodidact

  • 2001-2004 | Keyboard and Accordion (private), Serbian folk music.

    Lessons with resp. Novica Djordjevic, Peca Stevic and Velizar Matosic.

  • 1998-2004 | Atheneum (with Music and Theatre)

    High School at Coornhert Lyceum, Haarlem (NL). Extra-curricular artistic activities include:

    • Stage acting, theatre and musical
    • Musical performance (various band formations)
    • Artistic Direction of one musical with Daniel R. Mimoso
    • Composition of new music
    • Arrangement of existing music for various bands

    Rewards:

    • HIT (Haarlem Interscholar Tournament): best acting as side character (Tybalt) in Romeo & Julliet.
    • HIT: best musical performance & most original piece, with arrangement and performance of ‘Djurdjevdan’.
  • 1994-2001 | Keyboard, with Mr. Wijngaard

Resume (highlights)

After finishing a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Psychology (2009, University of Amsterdam), Gagi Petrovic studied Music & Technology at the HKU (Utrecht School of the Arts. He specialized 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 relationship with organisations such as GaudeamusV2Dansmakers 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.