Helga Arias - Composition

Composing the politics of musical creation: proposing alternative work interactions

When it comes to evaluating creativity structures in a process, one finds that all agents involved have an influence on the end result. Nevertheless, there are often pronounced hierarchies in relation to creative leadership.

The traditional historical idea that the composer leads interactions and patterns of creative work in their role as author and creator is widely questioned today, especially as less hierarchical structures and more flexibility can be made possible with the increasing use of new technologies and media. Through my research, I intend to question this paradigm by finding alternative ways of compositional and performative practice.

The studies of psychologists Robert J. Sternberg and R. Keith Sawyer on the 'flow' phenomenon in groups and on networking as well as current studies on creative leadership form the theoretical starting point for my research and to establish alternative work situations in musical composition. I will use new technologies such as programming applications and user-friendly interfaces that enable simple interactions, and search for applications of media and platforms for communication and information exchange that enable less hierarchical structures and more flexibility in compositional and performative practice.

Through collaborative, pedagogical and interdisciplinary projects, I seek alternative compositional approaches, means of communication, and codes that open a space for new models of interaction between the agents of the Western contemporary music community.

First supervisor: Prof. Dr. Volkmar Klien, ABPU
Second supervisor: Prof. Dr. Karin Harasser, Kunstuniversität Linz
Third supervisor: Prof. Dr. Cathy van Eck, Hochschule der Künste Bern HKB


Helga Arias (born in Bilbao, Spain) studied composition with Mario Garuti (Conservatorio G.Verdi, Milan) and Beat Furrer (Kunstuniversität, Graz) as well as electroacoustic composition with Javier Torres Maldonado (Conservatorio A. Boito Parma) and Karlheinz Essl (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna).

Her music has been performed internationally at festivals and in concerts by ensembles such as Sigma Project, Feedback, Espai Sonor, Ensemble d’arts, Neue Vocalsolisten Suttgart, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble SurPlus, International Ensemble Modern Academy (IEMA), The Riot Ensemble, Vertixe Sonora, Nouvelle Ensemble Moderne, ECCE ensemble, Taller Sonoro, Ensemble Cepromusic, and many others. She won the international competition Città di Udine, the RCSM Victoria Eugenia de Granada competition for symphony orchestras, the Shut up and Listen! She was awarded the honorary prize of the Colegio de España en Paris - INAEM 2016, second prize of the ACC International Composers’ Competition (South Korea) and the third prize of the Asia Pacific Saxophone Composition Competition.

In her work, she establishes relationships between acoustic and electronic resonance and investigates microscopic variations of the phenomenon of sound. In her most recent pieces, she also incorporates subtle theatrical aspects and collaborative processes. In 2020 she is composer in residence of the ICE Ensemble (USA). Her music is published by Babel Scores. Helga Arias is currently undertaking a doctorate at the Anton Bruckner Private University Linz (Austria). She lives and teaches in Switzerland.