Composer Alive: Poland Installment One

 Czytaj po polsku

This year our Composer Alive collaboration is with Agnieszka Stulginska in Warsaw Poland.  In keeping with our Composer Alive format, Ms. Stulginska has written a new piece in three installments for our Palomar ensemble to perform and record between January and March and then we’ll perform the World Premiere of the new piece in April at a concert that Ms. Stulginska will attend.

Each of the installment recordings will take place in front of a live audience with video posted to our website shortly afterward along with comments from the composer regarding her process.

The idea is to give the composer the chance to hear the piece played as she writes it, to give her the freedom to try out new things and get to know the ensemble and also to give an audience the chance to hear a new piece of music develop from its first idea, through the rewrites, to the finished product and read composer comments (below the video) along the way.

The first installment of the project was recorded at a salon event in Hyde Park at the home of Sidney Nagel and Young-Kee Kim.  Watch the video below and we hope you’ll watch the other installments as we record them.  Links to the other installments and the final version are at left. 


Composer Alive – Agnieszka Stulginska – 1st Installment from ACM on Vimeo.



Composer Comments for First Installment:

I would like to sincerely thank Seth Boustead, Access Contemporary Music and Palomar Ensemble, for the invitation to collaborate in Composer Alive. It is a true honor to be chosen for this project and I thank the audience for their interest.

This project is a wonderful opportunity for me that is proving to be an interesting, engaging and rewarding experience. Being both a composer as well as a painter,  I experience sound as color and sound as other senses. In composing sonorous experimental music it is difficult to predict the final outcome.  Sometimes my ideas are intuitive and spontaneous. By composing the piece in installments I am able to check the combination of sounds before an expressively unique finale. Working on this piece is a lot like cooking – experimenting and combining different ingredients to create something tasty and sophisticated.

It is difficult to convert my thoughts and feelings about this style of music into words. How should an artist describe such unfinished work in words?  If a “picture paints a thousand words”, surely a composition like this must as well.  Collaboration through composition of music provides me an opportunity to experience how the different musicians interpret my score.  This helps me to better express myself in the language of music.

When Seth first invited me to participate on the project, I had no concept of  what my composition would be.  I found myself traditionally singing (praying) and dancing in a Kurpie village in Poland, near the location of my mother’s birth. The style of the music is so intense that I decided to make use of  it for my piece for the Palomar Ensemble.

My composition concentrates on everything but the melody (- no melody) (“Between the Songs”):  – detuning and tuning from many many sounds into one composition, – waves and pulses in different forms, white voice (original scream singing technique, which is a characteristic for the Polish folk vocal music), vocal inflections when speaking and accents (poetry, text) and the content of songs (life full of hardships, vitality, death, purgatory, heaven, mysticism, love and many others).  The acoustics and characteristics of the location also influenced the composition itself.

The composition consists of three parts.

First Installment is called:  “Old Waves”