Glossolalia – The Inspiration
Glossolalia, meaning speaking or praying in tongues, is a spiritual practice or a worship expression found in certain streams of the Christian church as well as in some non-Christian religions. An interesting phenomenon is singing in tongues during public worship when members of a congregation improvise short melodies instinctively embellishing the notes of a common major chord. This group expression can lead to a spiritual trance and ecstasy and the improvised music is quite mesmerizing and beautiful. I sometimes think about all of the music being presently created in various styles and genres, merging into a single essence, expressing the sum total of our humanity. And what is music, but a search for ecstasy, a transcendent and an otherworldly experience?
The Language of Glossolalia
Stylistically, Glossolalia draws from the post-classical contemporary idiom. I have approached the medium of string quartet in a traditional way but with my own, fresh focus. While some passages are deeply meditative and simplistic (almost modal) in their harmonic structure, others are convoluted and treacherous, giving the stage to the most outrageous and forceful emotions. In this compilation I am faithful to my colorful and vibrant sound palette infusing it with a touch of pop, rock, jazz, and a few typically Schoenbergian post-tonal outbursts.
NeoQuartet, featuring Karolina Piatkowska-Nowicka, 1st violin, Pawel Kapica, 2nd violin, Michal Markiewicz, viola, and Krzysztof Pawlowski, cello, are great enthusiasts of modern art, often combining contemporary classical music with visual arts, modern dance, and electronics. Their repertoire highlights compositions by Reich, Crumb, Schnittke and contemporary Polish composers, such as Penderecki, Stulginska, Czerniewicz and Kosciow. The Quartet’s 2008 recording of the music by Stulginska released by DUX was nominated to the Fryderyk Award in the Contemporary Music Category and was included in the album commemorating the 60th Anniversary of Gdansk Music Academy. In 2009, NeoQuartet participated in the Gaudeamus International Competition in Amsterdam, achieving the semi-final level, becoming one of the ten best contemporary music ensembles of that edition. In 2010, NeoQuartet recorded their debut album released by DUX featuring a diversity of contemporary classical music by Lason, Hosokawa, Janssen, Stulginska, and Czerniewicz. In 2012, NeoQuartet was nominated to the Sztorm Roku Award, the Pomeranian Artistic Award, and the Fryderyk Award (Polish Grammy Award) for the debut recording. The Quartet performed in the “Voices of the Mountains” in Lausanne, Switzerland marking the state visit of the President of the Republic of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski. NeoQuartet is the organizer of the NeoArte Festival aka. the New Music Spectrum in Sopot, Poland. The idea of the festival is to popularize contemporary classical music among a wide range of audiences. www.neoquartet.pl / Photo by Tamara Wyrzykowska
1. Is Now Not Enough? [9:46]
The opening piece explores the restlessness and insatiability of the human spirit. The same invisible force that propels migrating birds and fish, seems to stir the imagination in search of the ideal and the transcendent, but can it ever be truly found? The music echoes the themes I have explored earlier in my poem entitled “Unfurling”: Be still my soul / What is your unfurling? / Your trembling? / Your flutter? / What is your ache? / A void that’s ever empty / What is your shape / That I may fill it? / Chords unstrummed? / Songs unsung? / Words unspoken? / Colors unseen? / A flock of geese / Captured in perpetual takeoff / You have startled / The stillness of the pond / Marred it with ripples / Your wings / Water shedding / Gasping for air / Hungrily / Ecstatically / Forcefully / What is your haste? / Is now not enough? / Is here not plenty? / Run, soul, run / For stillness be the death of you / Chase the sun / Fly
I have always been fascinated by the ability of many actors to portray contrasting emotions at the drop of a hat. Those with many years of experience and a full control of their bodies, are able to switch seamlessly between tearful sobbing and stupefying laughter. Often, when called to audition, they are required to recite short monologues showcasing their abilities. Surge, Cantabile, and Expletivo portray a wide range of human emotions, from conflicting, dissonant, and aggressive, through delicate, fragile, and innocent.
2. Surge [6:17]
Get ready for an avalanche of long-suppressed grudges and grievances. This movement has a lot to say, but it will carefully weigh its words to deliver the punch at the right time. Its harmonic language is a cross between Schoenbergian post-tonalism, and, at times, echoes of hard rock riffs.
3. Cantabile [5:09]
Cantabile (in Italian “singable”, or “song-like”) should unfold through long and eloquent phrases, but it does not have enough courage to immediately convey what hides in its heart. It is full of hesitation and uncertainty. How do we express fragile, undefinable emotions in a loud and cynical world? The secret of strength sometimes lies in tenderness. As the movement progresses, individual phrases gain shape and begin to form a bold message through a colorful harmonic progression of jazzy quartal sonorities.
4. Expletivo [4:56]
This is high-brow art music, and so it is proper to hide behind a made-up Italian word like Expletivo, but the essence of this movement might be better expressed through the Polish idiom for swearing, which is “to throw meat”. Expletivo is vulgar. It should be bleeped out and cleaned up. Listener discretion is advised.
5. Glossolalia [7:53]
Glossolalia, meaning speaking or praying in tongues, is a spiritual practice or a worship expression found in certain streams of the Christian church as well as in some non-Christian religions. An interesting phenomenon is singing in tongues during public worship when members of a congregation improvise short melodies, instinctively embellishing the notes of a common major chord. This group expression can lead to a spiritual trance and ecstasy and the improvised music is quite mesmerizing and beautiful. I sometimes think about all of the music being presently created in various styles and genres, merging into a single essence, expressing the sum total of our humanity.
6. First In Flight [9:10]
“First In Flight” is a slogan found on all North Carolina car license plates, commemorating the achievement of the Wright brothers. The composition is my nod toward the state of North Carolina, which has recently become my new home. This fast paced and energetic piece is full of colorful harmonic progressions, vibrant melodic lines, playful jazzy riffs, and dreamy soundscapes depicting the thrill of a take off and flying.
7. Grit and Glitz [8:52]
Brooklyn – a dream destination of many artists with its chic neighborhoods, and glitzy walk-ups. But then you get off the wrong subway station after dark and you can’t believe the grit and despair. Brooklyn has it all – love it or hate it, take it or leave it, but one thing is certain, Brooklyn has many faces and is bound to surprise you. “Grit and Glitz” is a high energy, show-off piece, venturing out into the territory of catchy pop and rock melodic gestures, stretching their boundaries until it breaks into a cadenza-like section exploring jazz harmonies. The piece marks my first Brooklyn premiere.
About Paweł Nowicki, vibraphone
Paweł Nowicki studied percussion performance in Gdansk and Strasburg. He is a laureate of international competitions of contemporary music; Gaudeamus in Rotterdam (1999) and Clarment-Ferrand (1999). Since 2002 he has been a part of contemporary music ensemble Kwartludium, who participated in festivals of contemporary music in Poland (Warsaw Autumn), Radio Festival WDR in Cologne, and Unsound Festival in New York. Since 2003 the artist has been collaborating with the Warsaw Autumn festival as a soloists, premiering solo and chamber works. As a member of Kwartludium, he is a multiple recipient of grants from the Office of the Speaker of the House, the Town of Gdansk, and the “Young Poland” of the Ministry of Culture. Since 2004 he has been collaborating with an ensemble “Kobiety”, garnering important awards in the world of pop and rock music. The artist regularly collaborates with such ensembles as Ecstasy Project, Pink Freud, and Kwadrofonik. He has performed throughout Europe and in Carnegie Hall and Symphony Space in New York.
All music composed by Dosia McKay / All tracks performed by NeoQuartet, except Grit and Glitz features Paweł Kapica, violin, Michał Markiewicz, viola, and Krzysztof Pawłowski, cello / Vibraphone soloist on First in Flight – Paweł Nowicki / Recorded at Janusz Hajdun Concert Studio at Radio Gdańsk in February 2014 / Edited, mixed, and mastered by Jacek Puchalski at Radio Gdańsk / Produced by Dosia McKay / Graphic design by Dosia McKay / ©(P)2014 Dosia McKay/Gavia Music (ASCAP), all rights reserved
“This is a beautiful album from start to finish. World class players, recording and-above all-musical vision. I love McKay’s style throughout… it feels fresh and direct without seeming naive. Each piece is a unique musical ecosystem, and all contribute to an atmosphere of studied sensuality which pervades the album. I have this CD on rotation in my car and flip it on whenever I need to hone my ears and take respite from life’s frenzied pace. One gets the sense that the composer wants to cue us into the beauty of the here-and-now, as opposed to simply recycling the beauties of lives lived elsewhere long ago.” – William K. Bares
“Dosia McKay continues to cement her reputation as one of the most exciting composers on the contemporary music scene with the release of the classical-influenced GLOSSOLALIA. The music is performed by the string quartet NeoQuartet, from Poland. Karolina Piatkowska-Nowicka (1st Violin), Pawel Kapica (2nd Violin), Michal Markiewicz (Viola), and Krzysztof Pawlowski (Cello) bring out every nuance of Ms. McKay’s ambitious project with their superbly technical and artistic performances. If you have never heard of this group of talented musicians before, you have now and you must delve into their other works. Ms. McKay and NeoQuartet complement each other beautifully, with both composition and performance showcasing the extreme talents of all involved. The recording itself is also brilliantly executed and presents the listener with an audio experience usually reserved for the big labels. I do not possess a degree in Music Composition or Performance. I simply know what I like. Ms. McKay delivers what I like and she does it with modesty, humility, and great talent. For those people who love to discover hidden gems in the world of the Arts, this is one gem you will want to place in an honored spot in your collection.” – Mysticwriter
“Dosia McKay’s ‘Glossolalia’ is really a testament to the power, depth, and cross-musical influences in the “classical” music world today. This composer revives the too-often-trite or ‘expected’ sonic capabilities of this repertoire and charges ahead in creating works comprised of equal-parts grit, gut, and glamour. The pieces here are invigorating, heartfelt, painstakingly intricate and detailed, and cover an incredibly wide range of emotional and musical ground, all driven by the compact (yet no less fierce) musical forces of a string quartet. NeoQuartet is a veritable powerhouse of contemporary performance, specializing in the new and avant-garde while continually paying homage to tradition. McKay’s music fits them like a tailored glove, and even upon listening to a single track, one can tell that this music is more than simply “well played”; it is LOVED. As a collection, this recording feels like a life’s “soundtrack,” a film score, and a series of movements from a singular symphonic (chamber) work, all at once. The album is brilliantly cohesive, but each piece on ‘Glossolalia’ somehow stands on its own, too, as a uniquely sculpted musical statement. You will not be disappointed.” – Miss Janet
“Rarely do I find new music that finds the sweet spot of thoughtul composition, masterful interpretation and impeccable recording. Glossolalia finds the spot, and will reward you on repeated listening. Brava to Dosia McKay!” – Sally Sparks
“I had the pleasure of hearing IS NOW NOT ENOUGH in a concert in NYC recently. The piece truly blew me away in its color, expression, and best of all, its surprises! Now I know these words are often thrown around in concert music reviews, but as a composer who is often left unfulfilled after concerts of contemporary music, I don’t use those words often. This piece deserves every one of them. Needless to say I was very excited to hear a recording of this piece was going to be released. My excitement was fulfilled as the NeoQuartet really knocks this out of the park. The slowly, rising intensity of this piece is masterfully accomplished by the group which allows the full effect of this piece to really take hold. The rest of the album thankfully lives up to this first track. McKay’s music seems be this weird coming together of romanticism, sophistication, and wit. Not sure how she does it, but I’m looking forward to her future projects.” – Stefan Swanson
“Articulating the dynamism of life, Dosia McKay has, once again, sparkled and soared on this, her newest offering to the contemporary music scene, GLOSSOLALIA. Pensive, sensual, intense, and exquisitely intricate, one finds oneself drawn into the give and take, and the sense of life journey. Deeply spiritual and honest, it imparts a sense of cosmic, soul-rocking wholeness. The string quartet, NeoQuartet, perform with sensitivity, impeccable artistry, passion, agility, and expressive eloquence. (On a personal note: Oh, to have an intimate house concert, with Ms. McKay and NeoQuartet as celebrated guests, joined by an intimate audience of friends who enjoy fine wine, fine art, and authentic, unpretentious artistic offerings, where all, performers and audience alike, could be transported, immersed, and lost in wonder through the “language” that is Glossolalia!)” – Mary Lou O’Hern
Release date: June 4, 2014
©(P)2014 Dosia McKay / Gavia Music (ASCAP)
All rights reserved