Scenes From A Life

Monika Gurak composer

Michael Davidson vibraphone
Emma Colette Moss piano
Scott Downing piano

Release Date: November 12, 2021
Catalog #: NV6386
Format: Digital & Physical
21st Century
Chamber
Percussion
Piano

Hot on the heels of her first Navona Records release, award winning composer Monika Gurak keeps the fire burning with SCENES FROM A LIFE, an album of original and personalized works for piano and vibraphone. Infused with wit and whimsy, Gurak’s 15 Humoresques deliver a lighthearted quality to the album’s first half, featuring pianists Scott Downing and Emma Collette Moss with vibraphonist Michael Davidson.

When it comes to emotion and expressive quality, Gurak leaves no stone unturned, as she allows significant timestamps in her life, unique anecdotes, and her background to resonate through her compositions. Gurak’s stories are told clearly through the piano, fostering an intimate and intriguing listening space.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Humoresque: No. 1 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Scott Downing, piano 0:49
02 Humoresque: No. 2 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Scott Downing, piano 0:59
03 Humoresque: No. 3 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Scott Downing, piano 0:50
04 Humoresque: No. 4 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Scott Downing, piano 0:52
05 Humoresque: No. 5 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Scott Downing, piano 1:09
06 Humoresque: No. 6 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Scott Downing, piano 0:48
07 Humoresque: No. 7 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Scott Downing, piano 1:02
08 Humoresque: No. 8 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Emma Colette Moss, piano 0:56
09 Humoresque: No. 9 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Emma Colette Moss, piano 1:26
10 Humoresque: No. 10 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Emma Colette Moss, piano 0:49
11 Humoresque: No. 11 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Emma Colette Moss, piano 0:48
12 Humoresque: No. 12 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Emma Colette Moss, piano 0:54
13 Humoresque: No. 13 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Emma Colette Moss, piano 1:15
14 Humoresque: No. 14 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Emma Colette Moss, piano 0:53
15 Humoresque: No. 15 Monika Gurak Michael Davidson, vibraphone; Emma Colette Moss, piano 1:23
16 Romance Sonámbulo Monika Gurak Emma Colette Moss, piano; Scott Downing, piano 3:44
17 A Story: I. Awaiting Monika Gurak Scott Downing, piano 1:51
18 A Story: II. My Love, Are You There? Monika Gurak Emma Colette Moss, piano; Scott Downing, piano 3:33
19 A Story: III. To See You Is To Rejoice Monika Gurak Emma Colette Moss, piano; Scott Downing, piano 2:36
20 My Country: I. As If I Still Were There Monika Gurak Emma Colette Moss, piano; Scott Downing, piano 2:30
21 My Country: II. New Land Monika Gurak Emma Colette Moss, piano; Scott Downing, piano 2:55
22 My Country: III. Becoming Monika Gurak Emma Colette Moss, piano; Scott Downing, piano 3:18
23 Scenes From A Life: I. Life is a Cruise Monika Gurak Emma Colette Moss, piano; Scott Downing, piano 3:18
24 Scenes From A Life: II. Gone with the Wind Monika Gurak Emma Colette Moss, piano; Scott Downing, piano 3:31
25 Scenes From A Life: III. I'm Home Monika Gurak Emma Colette Moss, piano; Scott Downing, piano 2:25

All tracks were recorded in June of 2021

Piano Recorded at Kingsway Lambton United Church in Toronto ON, Canada
Session Producer Jon Lillo in association with Monika Gurak

Vibraphone Recorded at Michael Davidson’s studio

Additional Audio Engineering by Jon Lillo

Photos of the woods by Wojciech Gurak

TRACKS 1 – 7
Michael Davidson vibraphone
Scott Downing piano
Mix Engineer Lucas Guyader

TRACKS 8 – 15
Michael Davidson vibraphone
Emma Colette Moss piano
Mix Engineer Lucas Guyader

TRACK 16 & 21
Emma Colette Moss piano
Scott Downing piano
Mix Engineer Jon Lillo

TRACK 17
Scott Downing piano
Mix Engineer Elias Edlund

TRACK 18 & 19
Emma Colette Moss piano
Scott Downing piano
Mix Engineer Elias Edlund

TRACK 20 & 22- 25
Emma Colette Moss piano
Scott Downing piano
Mix Engineer Harjeet Pabla

Executive Producer Bob Lord

Executive A&R Sam Renshaw
A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Danielle Lewis

General Manager of Audio & Sessions Jan Kosulic
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Patrick Niland, Sara Warner

Artist Information

Monika Gurak

Composer

An award-winning composer and songwriter, Monika Gurak graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Composition with honours from the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, as well as with a master’s degree from the Department of Music, York University. York University additionally gave her a merit-based entrance scholarship. She also took courses in writing songs and music production at Berklee Online, where she received a certificate. In addition, Monika is an alumna of the Institute of Iberian and Ibero-American Studies, University of Warsaw.

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Michael Davidson

Michael Davidson

Vibraphone

Toronto-based vibraphonist & composer Michael Davidson has built a reputation on moving fluidly between genres, consistently defying stylistic boxes. His music has been described as “sensuously immediate, yet questing, as it is both structurally rigorous and open in poetic effect” (The Jazz Journal). Michael is an in demand collaborator across the improvised, jazz, and creative music scenes. His musical pursuits blur the lines between composition and improvisation drawing equally from jazz, free music, and classical traditions.

Michael has worked with many of the active jazz and improvised music players in Toronto and internationally including recent collaborations with saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, composer and saxophonist Quinsin Nachoff, and two months of focused study with David Friedman in Berlin, Germany. With double bassist Dan Fortin, he has started an independent record label, Elastic Recordings, exploring music that blurs the boundaries between improvisation and composition. He co-leads Clock Radio, Hobson’s Choice, leads Michael Davidson’s 4th Spatula (a septet featuring his original compositions), and is an avid solo performer.

Emma Colette Moss

Emma Colette Moss

Piano

Emma Colette Moss is a Czech-Canadian composer, conductor, librettist, pianist, and educator with a passionate commitment to enhancing the accessibility of music for all audiences through these platforms. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Composition and Piano at the University of Toronto, under the guidance of artists such as Larysa Kuzmenko and Alexander Rapoport, and previously, Tanya Gernburd.

She has enjoyed opportunities such as cofounding the Breva Academy Orchestra, working on librettos with contemporary composers, receiving commissions from major ensembles such as the Orchestra Breva, performing with various ensembles, and more. In her years of teaching, alongside many other engagements, Emma Colette Moss has shown herself to be an emerging and passionate artist of note, interested in the accessibility of both new and previous music. Her musicianship reflects a sincere appreciation and passion, demonstrated by an eager, kindred, and charming sense of musicality to be shared with all.

Scott Downing

Scott Downing

Piano

Scott Downing is an active solo, collaborative, and chamber pianist in Canada and abroad. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance from the University of Toronto having studied with Henri-Paul Sicsic and Boris Lysenko. Upon graduating he received the W.O. Forsyth scholarship. From 2015-18 he earned his master’s degree in Performance at McGill University and also his graduate diploma in Performance having studied with Marina Mdivani.

In October 2018 Scott attended the renowned Oxford Lieder Mastercourse in Oxford, England with Soprano Carolyn Beaudoin to study and perform Art Song. He also was invited with Carolyn to compete in the prestigious Das Lied competition in Heidelberg, Germany in February of 2019. During the summer of 2019 Scott was a fellow of the Toronto Summer Music Festival’s Art of Song program. In addition to his collaborative career, Scott is also a ballet accompanist at Canada’s National Ballet School.

Notes

This album contains humoresques for vibraphone and piano and compositions for piano four hands.

The inspiration for my compositions comes from my everyday life. I am Polish-Canadian. You can find traces of this, for example, in “My country.” Apart from being a musician, I also studied Spanish language and everything related to Iberian and Ibero-American countries at the university. Influences of that can be found, for instance, in “Romance sonámbulo”.

Humoresques are short compositions that were written as a jest. I like writing music with humour, and it makes me happy when my music brings smiles to the listeners.

I hope you enjoy my humoresques for vibraphone and piano and my compositions for piano four hands.

— Monika Gurak