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Dosia McKay, born in the Baltic city of Gdańsk, Poland, is an American composer of music for the concert stage, film, and modern dance. A versatile sound colorist, McKay fluently weaves elements of classical harmony, avant-garde, ambient soundscapes, and her own visual art into the fabric of her compositions. Her portfolio includes works for symphony orchestra, chamber ensembles, choir, soloists, as well as electro-acoustic installations. She is equally at home writing for live performers and traditional instruments as she is modulating the parameters of her software synthesizers.
Many of her earlier works exhibit a type of Slavic nostalgia expressed by introspective, minor tonalities, and lyrical melodies. (She was, born and raised in Poland and has lived in the United States for over twenty-five years). However, in recent years, she has been drawn toward more ambiguous sonic landscapes reflective of her own abstract paintings. Her musical influences are wide and varied, from Francis Poulenc, Paul Hindemith, Igor Stravinsky, Grażyna Bacewicz, and Wojciech Kilar, to John Adams, Aaron Jay Kernis, Jennifer Higdon, Magnus Lindberg, Morton Subotnick, and Brian Eno.
The 2021/2022 season has brought Dosia McKay’s debut with the New York City Ballet in the performance of her two orchestral pieces, Unveiling and Is Now Not Enough?, to the choreography of Sidra Bell and costume design by Christopher John Rogers at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. In November, the Knoxville Symphony premiered her Watercolors for symphony orchestra at the Tennessee Theater.
Dosia McKay’s music has been featured on National Public Radio and in concerts at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center in New York, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Festival Gdynia Classica Nova in Poland, the Beijing Modern Music Festival in China, in Spain, France, the Knoxville Museum of Art, the Tennessee Theater, the Electro-Music Festival in Asheville, the Diana Wortham Theater in Asheville, and others.
Notable performers include the New York City Ballet Orchestra, The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, the Knox-Galesburg Symphony, the North/South Consonance Orchestra of New York, the Polish avant-garde string quartet NeoQuartet, the Polish Orpheus Orchestra, the Asheville chamber music repertory company Pan Harmonia, the S.E.M. Ensemble, Spartanburg Philharmonic String Trio, Asheville Ballet, Baroque lutenist Will Tocaben, Argentine guitar virtuoso Sergio Puccini, and many others.
Recent projects include a commission from D. Scot Williams to compose a new work for cello solo, Earthrise, a new work for symphony orchestra, Groundless, an album of post-classical electro-acoustic music, a commission from the Knoxville Symphony to compose a solo piece for the principal tuba player Sande MacMorran, a commission from Pan Harmonia underwritten by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council in celebration of Pan Harmonia’s 20th season to compose Rubble Becomes Art, a song cycle based on the writings of North Carolina women poets.
Of her album of music for string quartet entitled Glossolalia recorded by NeoQuartet and premiered at the Beijing Modern Music Festival in China in 2015, the New York magazine I Care If You Listen has written: “McKay composed music which eloquently and expertly describes the human condition [. . .] long, luxurious melodies [. . .] an album that politely refuses to be pigeonholed [. . .] rarely is there an album of new music so expertly performed and packaged”, and the Polish magazine Trójmiasto remarked: “The music is ecstatic and trance-inducing, strongly influencing emotions of the listener, even one who is not musically educated”.
Dosia McKay was born and raised in Poland. At the age of nine, she began her music studies at the Elementary School of Music in Wejherowo concentrating on classical guitar, flute, and piano, and continued her education at the Conservatory of Music in Gdańsk, majoring in flute performance under Ewa Pinno and Katarzyna Wittschenbach. She has been a freelance artist concentrating on chamber, orchestral, big band, and studio music. Although a gifted performer and an improviser, McKay did not formally study composition until she was 34, when she began private study with composer Kenneth A. Jacobs.
Dosia McKay holds M.M. in Scoring for Film and Multimedia from New York University where she studied composition with Marc-Antonio Consoli, Ira Newborn, and Rich Shemaria, and B.M. in Composition from the University of Tennessee where she studied with Kenneth A. Jacobs and James R. Carlson. She also participated in masterclasses with Steve Reich, Julia Wolfe, David Lang, Morton Subotnick, Pauline Oliveros, Meredith Monk, Michael Colgrass, Bright Sheng, Jacob ter Veldhuis, Steve Stucky, Mark Snow, Derek Bermel, and others. She is a member of the Society of Composers, the American Composers Forum, and ASCAP. Her music is published by Gavia Music.
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