June 27, 2016
19:00 Coal Mine Hlubina
György Ligeti: Aventures a Nouvelles Aventures (1962-1965) / Czech Premiere
Daniel Havel, flute
Jan Garláthy, french horn
Tamás Schlanger, percussion
Alexandr Starý, harpsichord/piano
Andrej Gál, violoncello
František Výrostko, contrabass
In my vocal or vocal-instrumental compositions Aventures and Nouvelles Aventures, I have used an artificial language. Such a made-up language serves as a kind of wrapping that contains real language at its core. All human affects, turned into rituals by conventional social behavior such as agreement or disagreement, dominance or submission, honesty or deceit, arrogance, disobedience, even the merest hints of irony hiding behind apparent consent or, indeed, admiration hiding behind apparent contempt – all of that, and more, can be precisely expressed in an asemantic, emotional artificial language. The “text,” given in phonetic alphabet, had not been there before the music; rather, both took form at the same time, meaning that the text itself is music, a composition made purely of speech sounds. This “speech sound composition” is based on imagined relationships between different modes of affective behavior, not on an abstract blueprint. Technically speaking, there is a phonetic system of grouped speech sounds and their changes that play a role when the piece is performed, but these are primarily chosen according to their capacity to evoke emotions in a form that is akin to speech. The composition, therefore, does not “set text to music” in the conventional sense. Rather, it can be said that music mediates the text and vice versa. Music does not provide “accompaniment” to the vocal element. The instrumental parts are written so as to flesh out or underline the speech sounds: we see phonetic composition affecting the very realm of instrumental music. This heightened emotionality, along with the body language and facial expressions that stem from it, can steer, despite its pure musicality, close to imaginary stage action as defined through affect rather than content. Listening, we experience an “opera” of sorts, with adventurous episodes undergone by imaginary characters on an imaginary stage. That is to say that our experience is opposite to our previous experience of opera: the stage and protagonists are evoked by music in the first place. This is not a score created for an opera; the “opera” takes place inside the music itself.
- György Ligeti
György Ligeti (1923–2006) holds a special position among the European composers of the latter half of the 20th century due to the diversity of his work, which might be deeply rooted in tradition but at the same time shows new possibilities in its development. Born in Hungarian (now Romanian) Transylvania, he was strongly influenced by Béla Bartók in his youth, and through him also by Hungarian folk music. Already at that time, Ligeti’s musical visions were original; however, under the given conditions, he could not fully realize them. He had the opportunity to become more familiar with the current trends of the avant-garde only after 1956, when he fled to Austria and then to Germany. Even though he became part of the then-progressive circles in the West, he always kept a certain distance from them. In the 1960s his compositions Apparitions, Atmosphères, Requiem, Lux aeterna, and Lontano, in which densely interwoven voices of individual instruments merge into a unified stream of sound, caused a sensation. Nevertheless, Ligeti had never frozen in one style; on the contrary, in each composition he created a new world, trying new compositional procedures, always giving precedence to the resulting sound over strict methods. In his oeuvre he absorbed the most varying influences but always managed to transform them into a distinctive musical language.
June 27, 2016
20:30 Coal Mine Hlubina
Petr Kotík: William William (2016) / World Premiere
Narrator: Miroslava Georgievová
String Noise, violin duo:
Pauline Kim Harris
In Czech-English version
William William is a dance opera that is a piece of music theater in which the on-stage action consists entirely of dance. The theatrical element is non-narrative, as it is danced instead. The dramatic content / meaning is ambiguous, ranging from abstract to suggestive choreography. The singers and narrator perform along with the music and do not participate theatrically on stage. The subject of William William deals with situation(s) of unforeseen turn of events that fundamentally change the condition of human existence. The libretto (sung and narrated) has been adapted by Petr Kotik from three different sources: Timon of Athens (1608) by William Shakespeare, short quotations by Pablo Picasso, and a short excerpt from an autobiographical text by Natalie Babel, the daughter of the Russian poet Isaac Babel.
Composer, conductor and flutist Petr Kotík (1942) studied in Prague and Vienna. In 1961, while still a student at the Prague Conservatory, he founded the ensemble Musica viva Pragensis, which he directed until 1964. After returning from Vienna, Kotik founded and directed the QUaX Ensemble (1966- 69). In 1970, upon arrival to the U.S. he founded the S.E.M. Ensemble, which expanded into the Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble in 1992. In 1997, Kotik initiated the festival “Music of Extended Duration,” organized by the office of President Václav Havel at the Prague Castle. He is an artistic director of the biennial Ostrava Days New Music Institute and Festival (from 2001), international chamber orchestra Ostravská banda (from 2005) and biennial NODO / New Opera Days Ostrava (from 2012). From early in his career, Kotik’s focus has been divided between composition and performance. Although he studied composition – first privately in Prague with Vladimír Šrámek and Jan Rychlík, then later at the Akademie der Musik und Darstellende Kunst, Vienna with Karl Schieske (1963-66) – it could be said that Kotik is a self-taught composer. Ideas and concepts of John Cage, and later R. Buckminster Fuller influenced Kotik from his early stages. Kotik’s compositional strategy could be compared to a game in which chance alternates with direct compositional decisions. The use of chance has always been a vehicle for removing attention from oneself, to accept unpredictable elements that may arise unpredictably.
June 28, 2016
Idin Samimi Mofakham: At the Waters of Lethe (2015-2016) / World Premiere
Lethé: Alma Samimi, mezzosoprano
Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa: Adrian Rosas, bass
Alfred Schnittke: Arash Roozbehi, baritone
Robert Schumann: Abdolreza Rostamian, tenor
Edward Mordake: Karol Bartosiński, contratenor
Ostravská banda, chamber orchestra
In cooperation with Spectro Center for New Music
In English language with Czech subtitles
A new opera by Idin Samimi Mofakham and Martyna Kosecka binds the Greek/Roman mythology with the 20th century plot, arranging At the waters of Lethe into the modern dimension of music and theatrical gesture. In Greek mythology, Lethe was one of the five rivers of Hades. Also known as the Ameles Potamos (River of Unmindfulness), the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld, where all those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness. All of the characters in the opera exist in a netherworld where their actions are about to be judged by Lethe. She is not a simple representative of a Lady Justice, she is something more: exploring multiple levels of understanding, judging, and translating the reasons for various decisions in the life stories of people such as Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa, Alfred Schnittke, Robert Schumann and the abstract character of Edward Mordake. The main subject of the opera brings the questions of why? and was I right...?
Idin Samaimi Mofakham (1982, Tehran) is a composer, musicologist, and sound artist completed his B.A and M.A in musicology and composition in Armenia. He is a permanent member of Iranian Society of Composers. He is also a founding member of the Music Composition and Theory Department of the University of Applied Science and Technology in Tehran, Iran. He has had the honor to be invited as the Composer in Residence to festivals worldwide, such as MATA15 (2015, USA), 4020 Linz (2013 and 2015, Austria), Visby International Centre for Composers (2014, Sweden), Convergence (Georgia), LUCA – campus Lemmensinstituut (2014, Belgium), Ostrava Days 2013 and 2015, and many others. In 2013, together with Polish composer Martyna Kosecka, he co-founded the Spectro Centre for New Music, specialising in giving workshops in the area of modern music and organising concerts. His works are mostly composed for chamber ensembles and based on traditional and folk music of Iran. He has also collaborated with visual and video artists from Iran and Armenia and made several sound installations for art exhibitions in Iran.
Martyna Kosecka (1989, Gdynia) obtained an MA degree in the composition and BA degree in orchestral conducting at the Music Academy in Krakow, Poland. She is a winner of an International 5-Minute Opera Composition Competition during the 28th Music Biennale in Zagreb, Croatia (2015). She was also a finalist of the 54th Tadeusz Baird Young Composers Competition (2013) and a laureate of the 4th Zygmunt Mycielski National Composers’ Competition (2013). Her compositions have been played at the Festivals of Contemporary Music Warsaw Autumn, AudioArt Festival in Krakow, SoundScreen Festival in Bydgoszcz, aXes Festival in Krakow, Ostrava Days 2013 and 2015, IMPULS 2015 Festival in Austria, and many others. In 2013, together with Iranian composer Idin Samimi Mofakham, she co-founded Spectro Centre for New Music, specialising in giving workshops in the area of modern music and organising.
June 29 2016
18:30 Antonín Dvořák Theatre
Petr Cígler: Protracted Sinuous Movement of a Longitudinal Object (2015-2016) / World Premiere
Ostravská banda, chamber orchestra
In Czech language with English subtitles
Protracted Sinuous Movement of a Longitudinal Object explores the relations between a woman, a man, and a rattlesnake in a common house. Their encounters involve deep understanding, high levels of tension, and merciless combat with protracted, sinuous movements and extremely sharp, precise assaults. The focus is on distinctions between inaction, slow action, and quick action. Also of note, interactions between slightly displaced or slightly doubled subjects or objects – voices, sounds, people, situations, etc.
Petr Cígler (1978) is a composer, horn player, chemist, and molecular designer. Formally, he has never studied composition, and he occupies himself with it only through cooperation with performers and festivals, writing “made-to-measure” compositions. For him, music is a counterbalance to science and an inspiration for further work. At present he is a leader of the scientific team of synthetic nanochemistry at the Czech Academy of Sciences, where he works in the research of new medicaments and diagnostic medical methods. For Cígler, music and science link on a general level: the approach of discovering the new. He is interested in organization and manipulation of sounds, work with acoustic phenomena, and cooperation with fine and enthusiastic performers who allow him to get to know and use their instruments in detail. He has composed orchestral and chamber pieces for Ostravská banda, BERG orchestra, MoEns, and others, performed at concerts and festivals in the Czech Republic (Prague Spring, Ostrava Days, Exposition of New Music), England (Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival), USA, Germany, and Switzerland. The composition Ueber das farbige Licht der Doppelsterne was commissioned by WDR Cologne, and its premiere by Ostravská banda was broadcasted live on WDR 3. The Czech Republic nominated his Entropic Symphony for the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in 2013.
June 29, 2016
20:30 Antonín Dvořák Theatre
Richard Ayres: No. 42 (In the Alps) (2007-2008) / Czech Premiere
Ostravská banda, chamber orchestra
In English language with Czech subtitles
No. 42 (In the Alps) could perhaps best be described as a melodrama. It combines many of the subjects that fascinate me: the relationship of text narrative and musical narrative, the history of opera, early cinema, the theatrical practices of the nineteenth century, along with the folk and popular music of the Alpine region.
A girl (the soprano), stranded on top of an un-climbable mountain peak as a young baby, is taught to sing by the mountain animals. Young Bobli lives in the village far below the un-climbable peak. He was born mute and communicates with the world by playing the trumpet. Bobli hears the soprano s song drifting down into the valley. The soprano listens to Bobli s trumpet tunes blown up to her by the wind. They are both enchanted.
The three acts are separated by interludes describing how three animals experience time passing in relation to a musical tempo.
Like any self-respecting melodrama the text and music combine to depict or imply a wide ranging theatrical adventure, in this piece starting at the Creation (or the big bang), a lonely existence, scenes of rustic village life, some carpentry, many mountain goats, unrequited love, and ending in a quest destined to fail. In a live performance the texts are projected on a screen behind the musicians in the style of silent movie intertitles.
Richard Ayres was born in Cornwall (Great Britain) in 1965. In 1986 he followed Morton Feldman s classes at the Darmstadt and Dartington summer schools, and after this experience decided to make music a full-time occupation. He studied composition at the University of Huddersfield, and postgraduate composition with Louis Andriessen at the Royal Conservatoire in Den Haag, graduating in 1992. He continues to live in the Netherlands, and teaches composition at the Conservatoire in Amsterdam. Ayres music has been performed by many of the major European contemporary music ensembles, and numerous orchestras. He collaborated with the novelist and poet Lavinia Greenlaw on an opera version of Peter Pan, which was premiered by Stuttgart Opera in 2013, and received a new production directed by Keith Warner for the Welsh National Opera and the the Komische Oper Berlin.
June 30, 2016
18:30 Jiří Myron Theatre
Iannis Xenakis: Oresteia (1965–66, rev. 1969/87/89) / Czech Premiere
Ostravská banda, chamber orchestra
in Greek with Czech subtitles
Xenakis Oresteia somewhat defies genre classification: far from a mere setting of Aeschylus trilogy to music, it offers Xenakis re-imagination of Greek drama and a highly original take on the classical text. Conjectures and fragmentary descriptions that form our idea of the way classical Greek drama was staged provided a basis on which the composer built a work that juxtaposed avant-garde and archaic methods of composition, quantitative-verse choir declamation with engrossing rhythmical complexity, inspiration drawn from Japanese ritual theatre with a virtuoso baritone solo, and demanding percussion accompaniment. Singing and dancing combine with instrumental music to form a dark spectacle full of raw energy. The greater part of the work dates back to mid-1960s, but Xenakis returned to Oresteia in the late 80s/early 90s to compose two additional sections. Oresteia can, therefore, be understood not just as a synthesis of the above-mentioned elements and sources of inspiration, but also as a record of almost three decades of the composers artistic development.
Iannis Xenakis (1922–2001) was a composer of Greek origin, but spent his entire artistic career in France, where he fled persecution for having taken part in an uprising after World War II. Holding a degree in civil engineering, in Paris he first worked at the studio of the architect Le Corbusier, where he co-authored some architectonic designs and realizations. Xenakis came to the world of music as an outsider lacking the requisite education and training (he was encouraged only by Olivier Messiaen) but within a few years he became one of the most influential and original composers. Xenakiss approach to music differed markedly from the conception of his contemporaries, who were mostly developing the post-Webern idiom or generally some other musical tradition. More than the intellectual world of Europe in recent centuries, it was the philosophers of pre-classical antiquity who interested Xenakis. He drew inspiration from mathematics, physics, and natural processes. For him, music was above all a sound synthesis in the most general sense, and he conceived of it in categories of density, discreteness or continuity, ratios of periodic (tonal) and non-periodic (noise) components of sound, and similar “non-musical” concepts. Corresponding to his extra-musical inspiration is the radically new expression of Xenakis’s music: it is brutally objective, non-psychologizing, and independent of traditional forms. Xenakis’s oeuvre is characterized by a noteworthy continuity. His first compositions already contain the principles that he developed and elaborated upon throughout his life. Although most of his compositions make nearly unbelievable demands on musicians, Xenakis’s music has attracted outstanding performers from the beginning, and few composers have pushed the limits of possibility to the extent that Xenakis has.