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The BBE is thrilled to present new works by Mark Nowakowski for period instruments as part of the Noonday Concert Series at Fourth Presbyterian Church (December 18 at Noon). Find out more about Mark below and on his website. Performing three of Mark's works, which are listed below, are Brandi Berry (Baroque violin), Dave Walker (theorbo), Thomas Aláan (countertenor), and Anna Steinhoff (viola da gamba). 

Mizerna Chicha:  an old Polish Carol
Arranged (2015) by Mark Nowakowski

Chesterton’s Carol
Composed (2010/13) by Mark Nowakowski

In the still of the night: A medley of sacred Polish songs and carols
Composed and arr. by Mark Nowakowski

Mark on His Music

GK Chesterton was a famed author and Catholic apologist whose wit, tenacity, and brilliant thought has left a legion of loyal readers in the wake of his life. Given the depth of his work, there is something deeply touching about the simplicity of his poem "A Christmas Carol," which for me demanded a musical treatment. I thought of the old English carols he would have naturally been fond of, and tried to compose an original work which might be comfortable as a part of this tradition.

For most Poles, the turning of the year occurs on Christmas eve. It is during this time that even secular Poles (and those part of Diasporas far from their homeland) take part in the ancient traditions of this special time. Not the least of these traditions is the singing of the ancient and emotionally laden carols which have accompanied their ancestors through triumphant as well as difficult times, often being sung in the midst of military occupation, bloody uprisings, and violent persecution. In setting these carols for Baroque ensemble, I hoped to bring the particular pathos of this music (as well as the cultural significance of Christmas-time for Poles) to the particular expressive qualities of these instruments.

About Mark

Mark Nowakowski is a composer whose works represent a modern merger of bold expressionism and mystical contemplation, Slavic pathos and American individualism.  His music has been recently performed by such notables as the Kronos Quartet, the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, The Monteverdi Cello Octet, The Voxare Quartet, the FiveOne Experimental Orchestra, Stowarzyszenia Mozart, Vox Musica of Sacramento, the Choir of the Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Dominican House of Studies Schola, the wind ensembles at the University of Maryland and Illinois State University, and the Cracow Brass Quintet.  His first commercially available full length recording is currently awaiting release courtesy of the Voxare Quartet. 

The son of Polish immigrants, Mark's music derives a great deal of its experiential and aesthetic influence from his bicultural experience. Philosophically and spiritually, he is deeply influenced by the long history of Catholic mysticism, and is always seeking the transcendent element in all of his work. In 2011, the Kronos Quartet premiered his "String Quartet #2: Grandfather Songs" at the International Festival of Polish Music in Krakow. In 2012, he was the composer in residence for Projekt Mozart, seeing his "O Pieknosci Niestworzona" premiered in a concert tour of seven Polish cities culminating in Czestochowa and Warsaw. In 2008, he served as the Composer in Residence for the Canton Symphony Orchestra. He is a member of "Multimode Filter," an electronic music composer collaboration. Mark is also the music curator for the Foundation for Sacred Arts.  His writings have been published in Sacred Music Journal and at newmusicbox.org, while his columns on new music and music technology regularly appear in the Communities Digital News. 

Mark received his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Maryland, where he also won the biennial Walsum Award for Excellence in Music Composition.  He holds a Professional Studies degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he was Assistant Director of the CIM New Music Festival and was awarded the Donald Erb Prize in Composition.  He holds his Masters from the University of Colorado, and two undergraduate degrees from Illinois State University where he graduated with honors in both Music Theory and Arts Technology.  His main composition teachers include Paul Schoenfield, Daniel Kellogg, Mark Wilson, Margaret Brouwer, Larry Moss, Steven Taylor, John Drumheller, and Michael Theodore.  He has taught at the University of Maryland, Christendom College, South Suburban College, and DuPage College of Illinois, and currently serves on the faculty of music at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL. He resides in Chicago with his beautiful wife and children.