Out of Darkness Into Light

for guitar, violin, saxophones, bassoon, contrabassoon, and digital acoustics Duration:  21 mins. Text by Malgosia Sawczuk Premiered March 20th, 2017 by the Pro Musica Ensemble at the Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington, NC.
The Pro Musica Ensemble:  guitarist Nathanson, Soprano Nancy King, saxophonist Laurent Estoppey, violinist Danijella Zezelj-Gualdi, and contra bassoonist Helena Spencer. Commissioned by Robert and Mindy Nathanson
Stream on Spotify Purchase CD from Ravello Records
Original Recording by Project FourthStream
Buy download on CD Baby Stream on Spotify Purchase CD from Store
Read about the premiere of the original version of the piece. Hear an excerpt from the CD:

Program Notes

OUT OF DARKNESS INTO LIGHT is really a mystery play interpreting, through composed and improvisational music, the beautiful prayer-like text Malgosia Sawczuk created following her remarkable restoration work in Chicago’s St. Stanislaus Kostka church.  The church is located near Polonia triangle, which was the heart of the city’s vibrant Polish community when the cathedral opened in 1867, with the cornerstone of the present church building laid in 1877. Over the years, St. Stanislaus and Chicago’s Polish community have changed: the parish diminished in size, and the church and its magnificent art fell into disrepair.    In 2011, St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish began a project of essential repair and restoration of the church building.     Always fascinated by the church, I grew to know artist Malgosia Sawczuk – who operates the Art Objects conservation Lab with her husband – while she painstakingly restored the art of St. Stanislaus to its former glory, including the church’s extraordinary oil paintings on metal substrate which appear in the Stations of the cross, the sculpture, and the magnificent liturgical table.       When asked what it’s like to be in the scaffolding so close to this great art, Sawczuk told me, “It’s like touching the silence in the perfect emptiness.”  That sung to me; that’s what I do with music.     Observing that restoration is an act of defiance against decay, and inspired by Sawczuk’s work,  I  collaborated with her to create Out of Darkness Into Light, which premiered in Chicago in April of 2015.    This chamber version of the piece was directly inspired by this performance.  I want to acknowledge the artistry of Tom Gullion and Josefien Stoppelenburg whose inspired solos I transcribed in my arrangement and honor the new interpreters of this music and their contribution to the spirit of renewal.

Read the text by Malgosia Sawczuk View excerpt from the score.

Purchase Score and Rent Parts

Unusual but rewarding chamber music for open ears for the adventurously inquisitive, a 24- minute contemporary work for soprano, guitar, violin, saxophones, bassoon or contrabassoon, and “digital acoustics” is a welcome opportunity. Performed by an ensemble centered on singer Nancy Kingand guitarist RobertNathanson, trading as Duo Surenõ , Out of Darkness into Light by William Neil presents a text by Malgosia Sawczuk, in which the writer “hears” the words of her unborn child. The content is almost disturbing at times, but culminates in the triumph of birth. King is a commanding custodian of the vocal part, while Nathanson’s clear and fluent guitar lines, ranging from sparse ostinatos to bursts of chordal energy, provide the harmonic foundation. Neil’s music is challenging yet never without shape, the experience being both intense and uplifting. Paul Fowles CLASSICAL GUITAR William Neil’s phantasmagorical Out of Darkness into Light, is a twenty-four-minute dramatic scena of operatic weight, if not length. (Neil was, for a time, composer-in-residence at the Chicago Lyric Opera.) The text is by art restorer Malgosia Sawczuk, who wrote it while working in a Chicago church, while pregnant.  Trust me, the text is illuminating and powerful regarding both of these experiences.  The Duo (Rob Nathanson, guitar and Nancy King, soprano, is joined by violinist Danijela Zezelj-Gualdi and by Laurent Estoppey on a variety of saxophones.  Helena Kopchick Spencer on bassoons, and the composer on “digital acoutstics.”  As you can imagine, the range of sonic experiences is astounding but always illuminates the music and the drama.  Soprano Nancy King is extraordinary.  This is a work that cries out for performance whenever the musical forces and an open-minded audience can be found.  -Al Kunze  SOUNDBOARD