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Points of departure: the Fedkowicz Duo

As a student, I had an internship at a contemporary music festival in the UK. In that particular year, the theme was Polish music since 1945, and amid much fanfare and a herculean effort by the festival organisers, Krzysztof Penderecki was brought over to lecture and to conduct the Polish Radio Orchestra and chorus in his mighty St.Luke Passion. 

The concert packed Canterbury Cathedral, and was unforgettable in its majesty. Away from this spectacle, I remember seeing Penderecki in a moment of repose outside his hotel; dressed in linens, drowsing in the sun with a coffee before him, his hands folded neatly across his middle. As I looked I couldn’t help wondering what huge musical structures he was contemplating under his sun hat.

The Fedkowicz duo ( Wojtek Fedkowicz, drums; Agnieszka Grela- Fedkowicz, harp) photo: Magdalena Hałas

The Fedkowicz duo ( Wojtek Fedkowicz, drums; Agnieszka Grela- Fedkowicz, harp) photo: Magdalena Hałas

 

 The intricate and unique ideas within have inspired the Fedkowicz Duo in their latest album. “Punkty wyjścia” (or “points of departure”, in a title taken from a graphic by Bogusław Schaeffer),  is a free-ranging collection of creative and ambient pairings of harp and drums. The duo were inspired by the works of Krzysztof Penderecki and other outstanding composers associated with the Academy of Music in Cracow. Composers such as  Krystyna Moszumańska – Nazar, Marek Stachowski, Bogusław Schaeffer and Zbigniew Bujarski. 

“The idea was to be inspired by those composers whilst also looking for our own voice and expression,” Says Agnieszka. Finding that voice meant an intense, 4-month period of exploration, with Wojtek making sketches and experimenting with percussion and electronic sounds, exploring musical ideas, recording techniques and sampling recordings from the composers themselves.

Play and an uninhibited exchange of ideas was essential for the album, and support from the Creative Scholarship of the City of Cracow (with whom Agnieszka and Wojtek had already collaborated on their second album) was pivotal. It enabled the duo to make their painstaking research and refine their musical vision.

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The Fedkowicz Duo, composed as it is of harp and drums, is a pairing which might otherwise evade genre-specific labels, especially outside of the jazz field. This kind of experimental work might be considered as groundbreaking work for the harp, especially given the staid image of the instrument, but Agnieszka is adamant that the harp is perfectly at home here. “We talked a lot about sound of harp, which in my opinion is the best instrument on market for contemporary electro-acoustic music,” Agnieszka says and explains that through this project, she hopes to promote Polish contemporary music to a more harp-oriented audience.

Agnieszka Grela- Fedkowicz photo: Magdalena Hałas

Agnieszka Grela- Fedkowicz, photo: Magdalena Hałas

They are also eager to demonstrate that contemporary music of this type is not always esoteric:  “I believe it sounds really fresh, and has very unique, expressive narrative. The titles of  the pieces may refer to specific styles or compositions from the masters, but still tell some story about the human condition and existing in the present world.”

Apart from being kindred musical collaborators, Agnieszka and Wojtek are also married! The present writer will resist any humorous remarks about the pitfalls of working with your loved ones, and in fact, it seems the project  has very much been a Fedkowicz family affair:

“Wojtek is my inspiration, motivation and working with him is a big pleasure.” Wojtek’s brother Jacek was the project i sound engineer and as an accomplished musician himself: ”He knew what we needed”. Sister-in-law Magdalena Kulesza-Fedkowicz  paintings perfectly reflect the character of the music within; having used her work the cover of her solo album “Impressions”,  for Agnieszka It was obvious that her work  Starry river deep in the forest would be on the album cover.

When reflecting on this rich collaboration, Agnieszka says “I am very lucky that I have such talented people around me. It is really fantastic that we can work together.  We know each other very well and then we need less words in order to create something!” 

“Punkty wyjścia” is available to stream now.

One Reply to “Points of departure: the Fedkowicz Duo”

  1. wonderful…fresh and energizing ideas. thank you and congragulations!!!

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