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Track Listing:

Dvorak's Biblical Songs in English / Clouds and Darkness
Lord, Thou Art My Refuge
Hear My Prayer
God is My Shepherd
I Will Sing New Songs
Hear My Prayer, O Lord
By the Waters of Babylon
Turn Thee to Me
I Will Lift Mine Eyes
Sing Ye a Joyful Song

Elyse Anne Kakacek :


Album contains a recording of Antonin Dvorak's Biblical Songs in English.

In January of 2019, award winning soprano Elyse Anne Kakacek joined forces with organist and pianist Dr. Ryan Jackson to create a recording of Czech composer Antonin Dvorak's Biblical Songs in English (Opus 99). In the recent pandemic, the pair decided the time was right to offer these cathartic, hopeful and beautiful pieces to the world with an online self-release. The album, entitled Formless, will be released on all digital platforms on August 17, 2020.

The album celebrates the recordings and interpretations of Dvorak's Biblical Songs in English by soprano Elyse Anne Kakacek, praised by OperaNews for her "smoldering lyricism", and award winning organist/pianist Dr. Ryan Jackson.

Dvorak wrote his Biblical Songs in his native Czech while he was living in New York City at 17th Street and 2nd Avenue between March 5th and 26th in the year 1894. He completed the song cycle in 21 days in a fit of devoted creativity, rumored to be inspired by the news of his father's passing.

The text Dvorak used was taken from the Czech Bible Kralicka dating back to 1579. The beauty of its poetry marks it as one of the most important early texts in the Czech language. In order to share his sentiments with his new American audience while preserving his heritage, Dvorak translated the text into English. Because of this, only a few of the texts are recognizable as psalms to an english speaking listener.

A feature of these songs is the simplicity of the musical language Dvorak employs. He was able to express the broad range of emotions that arises in the face of mortality in a very clear and concise manner. Despite the seemingly simple nature of the music as a listener, study of the scores prove the opposite: modulations are frequent (many of the Songs begin and end in different keys) and the tenth song is all pentatonic. More than anything, the depth of the emotions Dvorak was experiencing as he composed is palpable.

The idea to create an album of these songs arose in the November of 2018. Kakacek and Jackson performed a few of them at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, NY where Jackson is appointed William S. Perper Director of Music and Fine Arts Ministries. The two were very taken with the music. Kakacek set out to download the songs for her own listening pleasure and discovered there is currently no recording of the English settings sung by a woman available online.

"Dvorak's intention to share his emotions surrounding loss with an american audience pulled at my heartstrings." says Kakacek, "I have always felt a certain connection with Dvorak's music because of my own Czech heritage. I hope to inspire more people to pick up these mini masterpieces and enjoy the emotional intelligence they offer. Now more than ever, in the time of COVID19, these songs can teach us how to mourn and rise above our current situation. They can teach us to mourn loved ones, mourn dreams, mourn normalcy- and from that mourning, we can realize that lack of form and control is an opportunity to seek beauty and faith in something greater, and that nothing is ever truly lost. "

Formless is produced and engineered by Matthan Black. It is mixed and mastered by Jacob Sachs-Mishalanie.