Ostrava, August …, 2017 – Ostrava is an important cultural hub, especially well-regarded in the musical world, and Ostrava Days, since the inception of the festival in 2001, has been a major factor behind this reputation. Ostrava Center for New Music, led by Petr Kotík, composer and indefatigable champion of avant-garde and experimental sound-works, brings fresh music to unique industrial venues. The programme of the festival mostly consists of world premieres, often attended by the composers themselves, and this opportunity for creative people of all generations to get together is one of the aspects that make Ostrava Days so unique. This year, the most anticipated events include the Czech premiere of Miroslav Srnka’s opera Make No Noise; Srnka ranks among today’s most important composers and gained world-wide recognition for his previous opera South Pole, which was commissioned by Bavarian State Opera and featured brilliant performances by Rolando Villazón and Thomas Hampson.
Radical Past, a concert devoted to new music pioneers and classics of the last hundred years, promises to be an equally interesting festival highlight, featuring compositions by Morton Feldman, Jan Rychlík, Philip Glass, John Cage or Richard Strauss. The festival also puts particular emphasis on pieces by Ostrava Days Institute composers-in-residence, young artist from 18 different countries who will arrive in Ostrava two weeks before the festival to discuss contemporary art with leading new music composers and performers.
Other traditional cornerstones include performances by the excellent Ostravská Banda, as well as solo recitals and chamber concerts (this year, the selection of guest ensembles focuses on the New York scene). For the very first time, Ostrava Days will also introduce ONO / Ostrava New Orchestra, symphony orchestra comprised of 85 young musicians from 13 different European countries and the USA. The audience will get the chance to explore the music of Canadian West Coast or works by legendary Chicago avant-gardists. Czech composers featured at the festival will include Pavel Zemek Novák, Petr Bakla, Michal Rataj, Miroslav Srnka, Petr Cígler or Marek Kejprt. The festival will conclude with a spectacular composition for orchestra and percussion by Olga Neuwirth.
“I’m glad that we’ve been able to keep reinforcing Ostrava Day’s position within the global music scene and that we continue to bring young and better-established artists together,” says Petr Kotík, the driving force behind the festival. “We are only interested in composers who are capable of grasping the current moment and looking forward without unnecessary baggage, in music and in life.” Let us add that on the eve of the festival, August 23, Ostrava’s Cineport cinema will host an advance screening of Czech Television documentary Untameable Kotík, on which occasion Petr Kotík will receive Czech Musical Council Award for long-term contribution to new music.
For complete programme, see www.newmusicostrava.cz/cz/ostravske-dny/. Tickets available from GoOut.net.
The festival starts on Thursday, August 24. At 6PM, Hlubina Colliery will host Open Space, an event dedicated to new compositions by this year’s residents of Ostrava Days Institute; on this occasion, Ostravská Banda will be joined by Jan Kulka (analogue projection) and Ian Mikyska (electronics). At 9:30PM, St Wenceslas Church will resound with Boris Guckelsberger’s 60-minute Requiem for viola, performed by virtuoso Berlin violist Nikolaus Schlierf.
August 25 will be a particularly busy day. First, at 5PM, Hlubina Colliery (Old Bathrooms) will host Berlin pianist Reinhold Friedl and Prague’s Opening Performance Orchestra performing their Chess Show (Homage to John Cage) in an electronic version with projection and live piano. At 6:30PM, New York violin duo String Noise will take the stage, along with Czech composer Michal Rataj on electronics. At 8PM, Joseph Kubera will begin his piano recital, at the end of which he will be joined by Conrad Harris, Ostravská Banda’s concertmaster. The day’s music marathon will close with Aneta Bendová, Eva Marie Gieslová and Dominika Doniga performing Kate Soper’sopera Here Be Sirens. The young Pulitzer Prize finalist’s libretto utilizes texts by Thomas Campion, Dante, Michael Drayton, Erasmus, Homer, Plato, Pythagoras or Sappho.
Saturday, August 26, will take the musicians and their audience to Ostrava’s Gallery of Fine Arts, where the Minimarathon of Electronic Music, curated by Martin Klimeš, will kick off at 5PM, featuring Prague Improvisation Orchestra and Krakow Improvisers Orchestra. At 8:30PM, New York violin duo String Noise will perform Alvin Lucier’s Love Song and at 9PM, the evening will conclude with Jennifer Walshe’s showcase Walshe in Ostrava, which, apart from the composer/vocalist/performer herself, will feature singer Thomas Buckner, trombonist and composer George Lewis and Ostrava Days Improvisation Ensemble.
On Sunday, August 27, Triple Hall Karolina will witness the debut of ONO – Ostrava New Orchestra, the festival’s new ensemble. At 7PM, under the baton of Petr Kotík and French conductor Bruno Ferrandis, the international team of soloists will perform compositions by Salvatore Sciarrino, Iannis Xenakis or Phill Niblock.
On Monday, August 28, 6PM, the audience is invited to visit The World of Ostravská Banda. In addition to Petr Kotík and Bruno Ferrandis, conducting duties will also be taken up by New Yorker Karl Bettendorf and by Joseph Trafton from Mannheim. The concert will also feature soprano and composer Kate Soper, singer Thomas Buckner, hornist Daniel Costello, pianist Daan Vanderwalle, composer and trombonist George Lewis and virtuoso Chicago saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, member of the legendary AACM.
On Tuesday, August 29, we have Voices at St Wenceslas: at 6PM, String Noise, Ostravská Banda and its conductors and soloists will be joined by Canticum Ostrava with its choirmaster Yurii Galatenko. At 9PM, Cooltour at Černá louka will become the venue of Solos into the Night, featuring Petr Kotík (flute), Juho Laitinen (violoncello), New Yorkers Carlos Cordeiro (bass clarinet), Chris Nappi (percussion), Liuh-Wen Ting (viola) and more.
Wednesday, August 30, will kick off at 5PM with the Czech debut of brilliant Momenta Quartet (New York) at Triple Hall Karolina. With Joseph Kubera as guest, the ensemble will perform the European premiere of Petr Bakla’s Major Thirds. At 8PM, Antonín Dvořák Theater will host one of the festival highlights: Radical Past, a tribute to modern-music pioneers of the last hundred years, presented by Ostrava New Orchestra and Ostravská Banda under Petr Kotík and Bruno Ferrandis. The event will be broadcast live by Český rozhlas Vltava.
On Thursday, August 31, Hlubina Colliery (Old Bathrooms) will host no less than three concerts. The first part of the evening will start at 5:30PM and explore composers who had the opportunity to study with Rudolf Komorous in Canada, including Christopher Butterfield, the executive producer of the concert. The compositions will be performed by Ostravská Banda (featuring conductor Owen Underhill), New York’s Momenta Quartet and Bratislava violoncellist Andrej Gál. At 8PM, New York’s experimental Loadbang Quartet will perform new compositions for trumpet, trombone, bass clarinet and baritone. At 10PM, Belgian pianist Daan Vanderwalle will perform Frederic Rzewski’s cult piece The People United Will Never Be Defeated.
Friday, September 1, will see the performance of Stuttgart’s Neue Vocalsolisten in St Wenceslas Church (6PM), including Salvatore Sciarrino’s 12 Madrigals or Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Menschen, hört. At 9PM, the industrial space of Triple Hall Karolina will host a site-specific production of Make No Noise, the latest opera by Miroslav Srnka, who has, in recent years, shot to worldwide recognition. The libretto was written by Tom Halloway, drawing inspiration from Isabel Coixet’s film The Secret Life of Words. The production will star Measha Brueggergosman, Holger Falk and other brilliant international soloists accompanied by Ostravská Banda under Joseph Trafton; major contributors also include Ostrava’s own Jiří Nekvasil (director), David Bazik (stage design) and Otakar Mlčoch (sound design).
The last day of the festival, Saturday, September 2, will offer two concerts. Last Call (Janáček Conservatory, 3PM) will feature Ostravská Banda under Carl Bettendorf, performing pieces by Ostrava Days Institute composers-in-residence. The festival will culminate with its Closing Concert (Triple Hall Karolina, 7PM); among other compositions, Ostrava New Orchestra and Ostravská Banda will perform Edgar Varèse’s percussion piece Ionisation, Olga Neuwirth’s Trurliade – Zone Zero or Bernhard Lang’s new work written especially for Ostrava (Monadologie XXXVII Loops for Leoš). The festival will also feature a wide array of additional events like exhibitions and film screenings.
Ostrava Days is a globally unique bi-annual festival of new and experimental music, attended by an international audience and featuring an international array of musicians. This year, Ostrava Center for New Music, headed by Petr Kotík, composer and tireless proponent of new music, presents the festival for the ninth time, offering orchestral compositions and contemporary opera, sound installations and electronic music marathon, virtuoso solo performances and experimental performance art, bringing renowned composers and guests from abroad, hosting the events at industrial venues or clubs as well as churches. As a part of the festival, Ostrava Days Institute also provides an international working environment for composers and musicians under the supervision of artists from around the world.
“With sixteen years of hard work,” Petr Kotík adds, “we have made Ostrava one of the capitals of contemporary music, facilitating unique cross-generational meetings among musicians, composers and visitors. For three weeks, the “abnormal” musical conditions – those by which we find ourselves surrounded nowadays – give way to a “normal” environment, meaning an environment primarily concerned with the art of its era.”