Ostrava Days festival will be officially open on Sunday August 23, 2015, at 19:00 by a concert for three orchestras. For the first time this will take place on the roofed square, in the newly open Triple Hall Karolina. One of the most important 20th century compositions, Gruppen by Karlheinz Stockhausen will be the centre of attention. The three orchestras will perform also compositions by John Cage, Phill Niblock and Petr Kotík that night. The music will be presented by the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava together with the members of Ostravská banda and the conductors Johannes Kalitzke, Petr Kotík and Rolf Gupta.
The composition Gruppen (1955-57) by Karlheinz Stockhausen pulls the listeners right into the centre of the musical course: a large orchestra of 109 musicians (extended with saxophones, electric guitar, piano and a large group of percussions) is divided into three orchestras conducted by three conductors, deployed in a horse-shoe formation along three sides of the concert hall. Gruppen consist of altogether 174 complex units, groups which enter a precisely defined interaction over the course of the composition. It was premiered on March 25, 1958 in Cologne, with the Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Stockhausen (orchestra I), Bruno Maderna (orchestra II), and Pierre Boulez (orchestra III). At that concert, Gruppen was played twice, and before the intermission, Pierre Boulez performed his 3rd Piano Sonata in the original version. Later, Stockhausen broadened the production team by a sound engineer whose role is to ensure in harmony with the conductors optimal sound proportions during the performance.
In the Czech Republic we had the opportunity to hear Gruppen at the Prague Spring festival on May 21, 1999. The excited audience in the Spanish Hall enforced the repeated performance of the composition immediately after it had finished. At that time, it was also played by the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava, conducted by Zsolt Nagy, Petr Kotík, and Christian Arming.
Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928 - 2007) belongs among the most inspiring music makers of the 20th century, a leading personality of the Darmstadt school of the 1950s and 1960s. In Cologne he studied music pedagogy, piano and at the same time composition with Frank Martin (1947-1951), he continued in Paris with Olivier Messiaen and Pierre Schaeffer (1952-53), he studied philosophy and at the univeristy in Bonn phonetics and information technologies with Werner Meyer-Eppler. Stockhausen’s steep artistic development is characterized by a consistent search for a new musical language, unburdened with the past, that goes from the initial following of Webern´s punctualism through multi-serial composition, the concept of music in space, electronic and electro-acoustic music, application of indeterminate and intuitive elements to a broader concept of musical art influenced by the studies of the philosophy of the Far East culminating in a monumetal (and controversial) cycle of seven full-night multi-media operas - a modern „Gesamtkunstwerk“ - Licht (Light, 1977-2003) and the unfinished project Klang (Sound, 2003-2007). Each of Stockhausen´s 376 compositions that form a complementary whole, solves a different compositional problem documenting the composer´s unusual and inexhaustible discovery invention. The avant-garde paths of Karlheinz Stockhausen have significantly influenced musicians in the classical music genre (Igor Stravinsky, Louis Andriessen, Wolfgang Rihm and dozens of others), but also outside it. Being influenced by his compositions is mentioned by such people as Miles Davis, Cecil Taylor, Charles Mingus, Frank Zappa, members of the Pink Floyd group, psychedelic Jefferson Airplane, Kraftwerk group or Laurie Anderson or Björk and many more.
At the opening concert, the composition Gruppen will be preceded by Stockhausen´s multi-channel composition from the end of the 1950s Gesang der Jünglinge (Song of Youths). The entire evening will be open at 18:00 by inauguration of the sound installation-composition of Alvin Lucier: Music on a Long Thin Wire which will sound over all the festival long. Both the projects are part of the accompanying program - the OD section plus Plato The Ostrava City Gallery.
Program of the opening concert of the Ostrava Days 2015 festival in the Triple Hall Karolina:
18:00 PLATO - platform (for contemporary art) Ostrava / The Ostrava City Gallery
Alvin Lucier: Music on a Long Thin Wire (1980)
Karlheinz Stockhausen: Gesang der Jünglinge (1955-56)
Karlheinz Stockhausen: Gruppen (1955-57)
Petr Kotík: Variations for Three Orchestras (2003-05)
Phill Niblock: Three Petals (2014)
John Cage: Winter Music (1957) & Atlas Eclipticalis (1961) / simultaneous performance
The program will be completed with the compositions of the Institute Ostrava Days 2015 residents.
The ticket sales started on May 1. Pass for all the festival concerts: 650,- Kč. The opening concert in the Triple Hall (Stockhausen - Gruppen): 300,- Kč, students 200,- Kč. All the other festival concerts for a unified price: 100,- Kč.
The Ostrava Days 2015 partners are the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre, PLATO Gallery of the City of Ostrava, Bludný kámen, and the Triple Hall Karolina. We cooperate with the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava, Janáček Conservatory in Ostrava and Provoz Hlubina.
Ostrava Days can be realized thanks to the financial support by the statutory city of Ostrava, the CR Ministry of Culture, Ernst von Siemens Foundation and the Moravian-Silesian region. Support of further subjects is being negotiated.
Ostrava Days are produced by the Ostrava Center for New Music. The information on the particular events of the OD project will be regularly published at its website www.newmusicostrava.cz.