Ken Walicki
1961 -
United States of America, MI
Picture Picture
K. Walicki
Ken Walicki [Valitsky] (1961), an American composer. He was born in Detroit, a Fulbright Scholar in Germany where he studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Helmut Lachenmann. Now living in New York, his ensemble plays throughout the United States and Europe. He has worked with such diverse artists as the Kronos Quartet, Kathy Acker, Lydia Lunch, Dora Ohrenstein, the Doug Elkins Dance Company, Bermuda Triangle, and the Soldier String Quartet. His own ensemble includes Thomas Chapin on sax and Regina Carter on violin. Ken Walicki is widely recognized and acknowledged for his dramatic, engaging music. He has received grants and commissions from ACF, the NEA, the Jerome Foundation, the Kronos Quartet, ETHEL, the New Century Saxophone Quartet, the Soldier String Quartet, the Mary Flagler Cary Trust, and Meet the Composer. He is composer-in-residence for the Divan Consort. As a Fulbright scholar, he studied with Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Helmut Lachenmann, and in master classes with Copland, Barber, and William Schumann. Walicki has collaborated with artists from the classical, pop, theater, film, and dance worlds. He was the founder and composer of the Ken Valitsky Ensemble. He was the first composer to have turntables as a regular instrument in a ensemble. Walicki was on the faculty at NYU, and Istanbul Technical University. He is director of composition at Cal State, Fullerton.
Composed in:1998
Musical form:opera
Text/libretto:Kathy Acker
Requiem is a three act opera commissioned by the American Opera Project. It has been performed in Spring, 1998, with Ken Valitsky, composer. Duration: Two hours. For 6 singers: 3 sopranos, mezzo-soprano, baritone, tenor and 3 actors.
Requiem is a modern retelling of the Electra story. However, instead of ancient Greece, Requiem takes place in modern-day America, in the world of New York City's wealthy Upper East Side. The story tells of one girl named Electra, but themes and conflicts are universal. The opera opens in a hospital waiting room in the early 1970s. Electra's father has suffered a heart attack. Thus, the saga begins. It tells of a dysfunctional family and its distorted relationships and deals with the question of evil in the family, the investigation of the possibility of the transformation of evil and disease, as well as the possibility of the transformation of death into life.
The text by Kathy Acker (1945-1997) taken from Act III of Requiem, the opera by Ken Valitski.

Sung by Electra:


"Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels?"

I know the answer:
no one.

Tell me: from where does love come?
An angel is sitting on my face. To whom can I run?

Take me in your arms, death,
I'm so scared;
do anything to me that will make me safe
while I kick my heels and shout out in total fear,
while we hurtle through your crags
to where it's blacker:
Orpheus' head eaten by rats,
what's left of the world scatters,
in the Lethe the poet's hairs,
below where there's no ground, down
into your hole,
because you want me to eat your sperm.
Death. I know.

"Every angel is terrifying."

Because of this, because I have met death,
I must keep my death in me,
and yet go on living.
Because of this, because I have met my death,
I give myself birth.

Remember that Persephone
raped by Hades
then by him brought
into the Kingdom of Death
there gave birth
to Dionysius.

You were the terrorized child,
Now be no more.
Requiat in pacem.

Tell me: from where does love come?

"Emerging at last from violent insight
"Sing out in jubilation and in praise."
to the angels who terrified away the night.
Let not one string
of my forever-child's heart and cunt fail to sing.
Open up this body half in the realm of life, half in death
and give breathe.

For to breathe is always to pray.

You language where language goes away.

You were the terrorized child,
Be no more.
Requiat in pacem.

For it was you I loved.

K. Acker