Dosia McKay

Flute Concerto - The Espionage

for Flute and Piano

The Espionage concerto was partially inspired by a poem by the same title I wrote in 2008 (see below) and, in a wider sense, by my fascination with the spy thriller genre. I loved the Jason Bourne films with Matt Damon and Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise. Whenever there is a chase across Europe involving trains, old Volvos, period hotels with tall ceilings, crowded subway stations, and miniature coffee shops, I am completely sold. The concept of espionage, to me, from the romanticized and artistic standpoint, has little to do with the actual spying or betrayal. It’s all abut a state of mind; escapism, hiding the true self under a disguise, adapting to quickly-changing circumstances, improvisation, alienation, uncertainty, and overcoming fear. In a word, a wealth of emotional material for personal contemplation and art making.

The first two movements of the concerto, “Anywhere But Here” and “One Regret”, feature quickly shifting harmonies, lots of internal tension and emotional brooding. The third movement entitled “Three Moves Ahead” is a fast-paced chase with a healthy dose of flute virtuosity involving fast staccato passages, quick runs, and flutter tongue articulation. Once again, as in several of my previous compositions, I return to jazz and pop allusions which are scattered across various harmonic progressions and rhythmic patterns.

1. Anywhere But Here

2. One Regret

3. Three Moves Ahead

Samples from a live performance by Shelley Binder, flute and Judith Bible, piano, on March 29, 2009.


An agent is easy to spot in a crowd
He wears a three-day stubble
And a white cotton shirt
With nonchalantly rolled up sleeves

Behind designer shades
The dark circles under his eyes
Betray his liberties
With multiple time zones
And he always pays with cash

When a long-legged brunette
Brings him a martini
He acknowledges her
With a chilled smile
And a quick sweep-around
From the corners of his eyes

The train arrives
At fourteen past twenty
That leaves exactly
Twelve and a half yards
From the nearest exit
With a full tank of gas
And a set of scalpels
Milan should be within reach
Before daybreak

This time of the year in Belgrade
The satellite phone reception
       Kate wanted a small wedding
Is intermittent with contradicting instructions
       But her father insisted on the country club
It's all about planning and some improvisation
       He was impressed with the ivy league degree
A steady hand and relaxed breathing
       She never enjoyed reading
A flawless poker face
       Chattered endlessly about nothing
Moss green eyes that perceive everything
       And interrogated him about his feelings
Yet reveal nothing
       She always thought he was obsessive-compulsive
The meeting is in the usual place
       Too nit-picking
Walk confidently but not abruptly
       Why did he ask her about the front brakes?
Let them assume whatever they may
       And then he left so suddenly on Monday
The key is in the glove compartment
       He is so utterly boring
Of a Volvo which is parked
       And completely lacks imagination
Sixty five meters from the intersection
       Some men have wit and an aura of danger
Rely on gut feeling, spatial coordination and
       They know what they want
Be three moves ahead of competition
       And take it without hesitation
It becomes second nature
       Is it too much to want a little adventure?
Always carry an extra pair of latex gloves
       Maybe he has someone?
Dental floss can also do the trick
       No, he couldn’t hide anything
The German passport is inside the cover
       She will tell him they could try harder
Of Crime and Punishment on the second shelf
       And give it more time
When exposed deny everything
       Talk things through
Remove all traces of evidence
       Try to remember what brought them together
Lay low for a while and
       Ease up on all this travel
Resurface in Zurich by Friday
       Or remodel the house
Then evaluate the difference
       Or have a baby
Between real and perceived danger
       Or just call it quits
When in doubt abort the mission
       It’s half past midnight
The safe house has a first aid kit
       And he is not going to call after all
And a one way ticket to Madrid

©2008 Dosia McKay
Composed: 2008
Total duration: 11'

1. Anywhere But Here
2. One Regret
3. Three Moves Ahead

Difficulty level: Advanced

Published by Gavia Music (ASCAP)
Laser printed, professionally bound
8.5 X 11 score and parts, 25 pages


PDF file
8.5 X 11 score and parts, 25 pages


Past performances:

  • Shelley Binder, flute, and Judith Bible, piano, at the University of Tennesse, Knoxville, on March 29, 2009 (premiere)
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