Composer Alive: Poland Installment Two

 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 second installment of the project was recorded in the home of Danuta Berger, president of the Landowska Harpsichord Society.  Video is below.  Links to the other installments and the final version are at left. 

Composer Comments for Second Installment:

When I first heard flamenco performed live, I was thrilled and hypnotized by how the old woman sang. Her hoarse voice tore up from the bowels with all that she sang.  Just about everything was there – she sang about love, suffering, death and even about ordinary life and daily work chores.

It surprised me that the Polish countryside women sing and shout what directly relates to their everyday lives. Of course, the rhythm and melody are fundamentally different but the content, expression and truthfulness, carries some inexplicable similarity. They singbecause of a strong inner need, rather than for money and fame, as in so many different parts of the world.

In relation to the dance, when I attempted to learn Brazilian rhythms from the indigenous people, I noticed that each time I try to properly play with the time signature,  the more it starts to diverge from what they are playing. In their playing, “one” was different than “two” for me, “two” was not the same as “three”, and “three” was unlike “four”! It is similar to blues and African music, where the emphasis is also in a different place. In that precise moment I have discovered that each region of the world perceives the rhythm a bit differently. At the same time, everyone has the same strong inner desire to dance – the same heart rate on which the breathing frequency depends.

What is the current state of the indigenous Polish dances?  Similar to what was described above – “two” does not take as much as “one” and “three” differs from the previous ones.

It is my honor to invite you to listen to the second part of my piece for Palomar Ensemble which I have called “Dance with My Breath”. In the creation aspect of this part, once again, I tried to include everything that happens outside of the melody – even outside the pitch and the traditional way of playing. I attempted to find what is common to everyone: the heart rate and breathing. And this is what makes people unique, different and one of a kind.

I have decided to neither suggest the type of dance nor what I generally describe in this piece to give the performers the freedom of interpretation. This will add an extra dimension to this composition – as to how it is perceived in different parts of the world.