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 third installment of the project was recorded at the ACM School of Music in Chicago’s heavily Polish neighborhood Avondale. Video of the event is below. Links to the other installments and the final version are at left.
Composer Comments for Third Installment:
When I began this piece I already had sketches of the first two installments in my mind. For the third installment, I only had the words of an old traditional Polish folk song to work with, especially the following text: “Oh sweet healing for my troubled heart.” So I decided to wait to see what comes out of the first and second installment and somehow create something out of the outcome of those first two parts. However, when I have initially heard those first two installment about three weeks ago, my impression was that the piece has already almost been completed.
At that moment, I had two options. I could either follow what Alfred Hitchcock has said: ”A good film should start with an earthquake and be followed by a rising tension” or alternatively, move the action element to another medium or a layer. To achieve this, the words of the old traditional Polish folk song has helped me.
I moved the narration aspect of this piece to the audio layer. Therefore, the third installment is now performed using the audio layer which now also includes fragments of the first installment. It gives an impression that the performers experience inside of them what has already happened in their life and that they also have been healed within.
Right in the beginning of the third installment, we actually do not hear the performers play. We do see their faces and hear their breathing, instead. The healing aspect (impression) comes by means of my mother’s very quiet singing voice – sounding like it has just been played from some old vinyl record. We then come back to the very beginning of the piece where the cello imitates an old analog plate. Following this, I use some special electronic effects to create pulses and waves that are not part of this virtual layer.
There is one more aspect to keep in mind about this piece and song itself. At the same time I was writing this piece, I was also desperately trying to find somebody who could sing me this old Polish folk song I mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, there was nobody who could remember the melody – even the old man from the village from whom I obtained a notebook with this text. Therefore, although the melody has been lost, it still works as the central idea of my piece. Keep in mind that a “lost melody” has universal meaning. The words are just so beautiful and pure and such melody goes much more further than one’s lifetime. It definitely seems like everyone of us has this kind of melody in their soul. The beauty and goodness of the melody is impossible to describe. We do miss it and are constantly searching for it all our life.
Each piece that I write relates to events in my life. Many things that happened to me over the last three months are part of this composition. I am happy to share it with you – that you are now a part of it. Enjoy listening to it!