Renske Vrolijk started singing early in his life and was intensively influenced by Gregorian chant as well as renaissance music and baroque music. As a singer she contributed to recordings with e.g. the Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.
She first studied composition in Utrecht with Joep Straesser, and after two years she continued her studies in Amsterdam with Daan Manneke and Geert van Keulen. During her studies she was influenced by music of Steve Reich and Louis Andriessen. After she graduated from the conservatorium in 1994 she decided to have a regular job and didn’t compose any music until 2002. Since then she has received a growing number of commissions from various ensembles, and in 2005 she took part in the Ostrava Days in the Czech Republic.
In her music she integrates speech or other audio recordings from real life situations. Her piece Squawk Box, for saxophone quartet, piano and soundtrack or live electronics was premiered in 2007 by the Amstel Quartet. This composition is the first of a series of ‘aviation pieces’, based on recordings from air traffic controllers and a fighter jet pilot and his passenger. The second piece in this series is the documentary in music Charlie Charlie, also premiered in 2007. For this large scale work she collaborated with Lex Bohlmeijer (libretto), Bart Visser (stage design, video and stage direction) and other artists. She has just finished working on Sound of Wax, a new composition for Orkest de Volharding that will be premiered in the Thursday Night Series of the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam in early 2009
Square Prayer is originally composed for carillon and soundtrack. Although the carillon is a versatile instrument, it is much bigger and heavier than a vibraphone and extremely sonorous. Many European carillons are placed in church towers and next to market squares. This gives them an intermediary function between the divine, liturgical, spiritual world and the more down to earth secular, struggle to survive and trading world.
Square Prayer steps in this joint and bridges these two worlds giving a mixed bag experiences: the profane world of churches and the secular world of market squares. On the soundtrack latin texts are sung that suggest liturgy, but are profane market lingo. Hidden are the sounds of coins.
I composed Square Prayer with the Polish situation in mind. Poland is, as many other former Eastern European countries, evolving and developing in high speed within 15 years from a communist country to a member of NATO and the European Union.
Does this mean that Poland will secularize within a generations time as many other Western European countries in the 1960s and 1970s? Or will the Polish population keep their religious life as it was, just as under the former communist government…