Flutist Antonina Styczen comes from the small town of Bielsko-Biala in Southern Poland, and at the age of five, set her mind on having a career as flutist. By age six, she had enrolled in a local flute class, and since then has experimental performance art rarely to be seen in glamorous concert halls.
A performer in classical, jazz, rock, and improvisatory idioms, Ms. Styczen has appeared in unlikely
spaces as a concerto soloist, and has created large-scale, crowd-sourced projects. A dynamic musician and entrepreneur, she hopes to create projects for the flute that will change the perception of the classical soloist. “Clearly a musician to watch” (Arcana FM), Ms. Styczen is a winner of Astral’s 2018 National Auditions.
In 2019 alone, Ms. Styczen captured First Prize at the National Flute Association Young Artist
Competition as well as its special prize for the Best Performance of a New Work, both Second Prize and the William H. Grass Memorial Prize at The James Pappoutsakis Memorial Flute Competition, and Third Prize in the Mid-South Flute Society Young Artist Competition.
An advocate for social change and for the programming of music by female composers, her program in the final round of the NFA Competition, featuring all female compositions, was overwhelmingly
In 2016, Ms. Styczen recorded her debut album, Mieczyslaw Wajnberg: Works for Flute, with the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Wojciech Rajski, for the German recording label TACET. The album was nominated for the 2017 International Classical Music Award and the Prize of German Critics. Along with pianist Eliza Puchianu and cellist William Laney, she formed the Alara Ensemble trio, which won First Prize at the Boston Conservatory’s Berklee Honors Ensemble Competition. In the ensemble’s short life, it has performed at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and Harvard University. A video of their arrangement of Piazzolla’s Four Seasons was released by the Berklee College of Music. Upcoming is a concert tour and recording with Eliza Puchianu of music by Eastern-European female composers.
Very active in electronic and improvised music, Ms. Styczen created Witkacy 622, Vol. 1, a program for singer, electronics, harp, and flute, with soprano Aleksandra Klimczak and pianist-composer Andrzej Karalow. She is also currently working as a producer on recital projects that include deejay, a recital that includes electronic works she composed, an electronic reimagining of Telemann’s 12 Fantasias for Solo Flute, and a CD of new solo flute works with electronics inspired by nature.
Ms. Styczen is a four-time recipient of the prize for extraordinary artistic achievements from the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. She won First Prize at the Virtuoso Competition in London’s Royal Albert Hall, First Prize at the Miami Music Festival Concerto Competition, Second Prize at the XV Jeunesse International Music Competition in Bucharest, and Third Prize at the Myrna Brown Young Artist Competition.
She has participated in masterclasses with Andras Adorjan, Walter Auer, Samuel Coles, David Dolan,
Carsten Eckert, Pierre Ives-Artaud, Andrea Lieberknecht, Nadine Asin, Denis Bouriakov and Jim Walker.
A graduate with distinction from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, she was also
awarded a full scholarship from the Fundacion Albeniz for studies at Madrid’s Reina Sofía College of
Music under Jacques Zoon, where she also graduated with distinction. She holds an Artist Diploma and a Professional Studies Certificate from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, under Sarah Brady.
Pola Benke, an esteemed cellist hailing from Poland, commenced her musical journey with the cello at the tender age of eight. She debuted as a soloist with the University orchestra in 2007, rendering a
captivating performance of Grave by Lutoslawski. Her quest for musical excellence led her to earn a
Master’s Degree in orchestral training from The Boston Conservatory, and later, to pursue postgraduate studies under the tutelage of the acclaimed Marek Szpakiewicz in Los Angeles.
Pola's exceptional talent has earned her numerous scholarships, enabling her to study under several
renowned cellists such as Dominik Polonski, Rhonda Rider, Sato Knudsen, Stanislaw Popov, Lynn Harrell, Aldo Parisot, Ko Iwasaki, and Astrid Schween. Her prowess in the realm of modern classical music has won her an invitation to perform at many prestigious music festivals across Europe and the United States, including the InterHarmony Music Festival in Germany and the Aspen Music Festival.
Pola has a rich portfolio of performances as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra member. Her
collaboration with eminent musicians in both Europe and the United States is testimony to her
exceptional skill and versatility. Specializing in modern classical music, Pola has premiered and recorded numerous contemporary pieces. Her association with the world-renowned chamber orchestra, Sinfonietta Cracovia, patronized by the legendary composer Krzysztof Penderecki, has further bolstered her reputation in the music world.