Orchestra Opening

25.8.2019, 19:00, Triple Hall Karolina


ONO / Ostrava New Orchestra
Members of Ostravská banda
Ondřej Vrabec, French Horn
Séverine Ballon, Cello
Daan Vandewalle, Piano
Gareth L. Davis, Bass Clarinet
Johannes Kalitzke, Petr Kotík, Bruno Ferrandis, Conductors

Marc Sabat: The Luminiferous Aether (2018)
Petr Cígler: Concert for French Horn and Orchestra (2019) WP
James Layton*: Focal (2019)
Michal Rataj: MOVIS (2019) WP
Chaya Czernowin: Guardian (2017)
Bernhard Lang: "DW28 Loops for Davis" (2017)

WP = world premiere
*resident of the Ostrava Days 2019 Institute

The Sunday concert will present works for large orchestra and soloists. The program includes a wide array of composers, soloists and conductors living and working throughout the world: compositions by Austrian composer Bernhard Lang, Harvard University’s American-Israeli professor Chaya Czernowin (her first appearance at OD), and Canadian microtonal composer Marc Sabat. The concert will also feature two world premieres from Czech composers: Petr Cígler’s French horn concerto, and Michal Rataj’s piano concerto (both accompanied by large orchestra). The program will also present a composition by the 22-year old English composer James Layton, a student at Trinity Laban Conservatory in London. He is one of 35 students at this year’s Ostrava Days Institute. As for the soloists, pianist Daan Vandewalle will return, and for the first time we welcome cellist Séverine Ballon from Paris. The French Horn solo in Petr Cígler’s piece will be performed by Ondřej Vrabec. Bernhard Lang’s piece for bass clarinet and large orchestra will feature the London virtuoso Gareth L. Davis, to whom it is dedicated. The international orchestra of young musicians ONO/Ostrava New Orchestra will be conducted by Bruno Ferrandis from Paris, Johannes Kalitzke from Cologne, and Petr Kotík.

Subject to change.


Marc Sabat – The Luminiferous Aether (2018)

         Canadian composer of Ukrainian descent Marc Sabat (1965) has been based in Berlin since 1999. He makes pieces for concert and installation settings, drawing inspiration from investigations of the sounding and perception of Just Intonation and relating to various music forms – folk, experimental and classical. He is a frequent collaborator, seeking interactions with other musicians and with artists of visual and literary modes to find points of shared exploration and dialogue between various forms of experience and different cultural traditions. His works are presented internationally. Sabat studied composition, violin and mathematics at the University of Toronto, at the Juilliard School in New York, and at McGill University, as well as working privately with Malcolm Goldstein, James Tenney and Walter Zimmermann. Together with Wolfgang von Schweinitz he developed the Extended Helmholtz-Ellis JI Pitch Notation and is a pioneer of music written and performed in microtonal Just Intonation. He teaches composition and the theory and practice of intonation at the Universität der Künste Berlin. 

         The Luminiferous Aether is harmonic space music, drawing inspiration from the gradual unfolding of tonal interactions and connections which characterises the Dhrupad style of North Indian Hindustani music. The underlying principle of a consonant tanpura drone, commonly saand pa, is projected here into a spine of perfect untempered fifths extending from the Violins’ open E string downward though the open strings of Violas and retuned Violoncelli in an unbroken chain to the F and Bb of the open brass. Within each of these perfect fifths, the instruments are exploring gradual movements upward in small melodic steps, embedded in simple phrases and counterpoints. The music successively reveals shadings and harmonies based on the untempered intervals of the 7th, 11th, 13thand finally 5thnatural harmonics from the various open string fundamentals. Over the course of the approximately 18 minute composition, these small “microtonal” steps gradually approach the simplest melodic counterpoint: passing from a perfect fifth to a perfect fourth by the interval of a tone. The title refers to an imaginary medium, postulated in 19thcentury physics, which was believed to permeate the universe, thus allowing the transmission of electromagnetic vibrations. It is also reminiscent of the unheard primordial vibration of all things described in Indian conceptions of sound: nāda, that which reveals and is revealed by time.

Marc Sabat

Petr Cígler – Horn Concerto (2019)

         Petr Cígler (1978) is a composer, horn player, chemist, and molecular designer. Despite having no formal education in composition, he has devoted himself to it in his frequent collaborations with performers and festivals. Cígler is interested in organizing and manipulating sounds, working with acoustic phenomena, and enjoys collaborating with skilled and enthusiastic performers. His work includes compositions for Ostravská banda, BERG Orchestra, and MoEns ensemble, and his music has been played at festivals in the Czech Republic (Prague Spring, Ostrava Days, New Opera Days Ostrava), Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, and the USA. His composition Über das farbige Licht der Doppelsterne was commissioned by Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln, premiering in a live broadcast on WDR 3. His piece Daily Patternswas broadcast in over 30 countries upon the recommendation of the International Rostrum of Composers. Cígler’s opera Protracted Sinuous Movement of a Longitudinal Object was performed at NODO festival in Ostrava in 2016.

         I have wanted to compose Horn Concerto for quite a long time. When I heard the ONO orchestra in Ostrava two years ago, I said to myself, “this is finally it,” and I began working on the composition. Unfortunately, the finalization of the score was accompanied by certain technical and time difficulties, and as a result,only the first movement will be presented this year. The horn is “prepared” here – before it starts to play at full blast, it is first played on the lead pipe and then on the partially connected system of slides. This movement features harmonic-melodic structures, which emerge from the intersection of chromatically ascending chord series. They are always played by the same three instruments, which impart the series’ auditively recognizable sonic homogeneity. The solo part, which is written in just intonation, is thereby confronted with a continuously changing harmonic situation, and can thus be heard in new circumstances.

Petr Cígler

James Layton – Focal (2019)

         James Layton is a composer, musician and artist based in London. His current music explores non-climactic forms which slowly unfold, and focuses on the juxtaposition of progression and stasis. He also has an interest in working with cassette tapes and guitar FX pedals, as well as collecting string instruments. Layton has worked on projects with Stephen Upshaw, Trinity Laban Contemporary Music Group and his latest orchestral piece Focalwas premiered by the Trinity Laban Shapeshifter Ensemble conducted by Kwamé Ryan. As an instrumentalist, he has performed at venues such as St John’s Smith Square, Kings Place, Blackheath Halls, The Albany and Cockpit Theatre. Layton studied composition at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance under Sam Hayden, Paul Newland, Stephen Montague and Gwyn Pritchard. He also studied viola with Richard Crabtree.

         Focal – A single chord is distorted and dissolved. Every few bars a new lens is applied, slowly removing the abstraction until eventually the original chord remains.

James Layton


Michal Rataj – MOVIS (2019)

         Michal Rataj (1975) studied musicology and composition in the Czech Republic (FFUK, HAMU), in Germany (HU BERLIN, UdK), in the UK (RHUL) and in the USA (CNMAT, UC Berkeley). He mainly composes electroacoustic and instrumental music, and since 2008 has been presenting his solo sound performances in Europe and in the USA. He also creates the music and sound design for a great number of radio plays and several dozen films across many genres. Rataj is interested in compositional aspects of surround sound and experiments with painting pictures by sound. In 2002, he participated in the creation of the radio program Radioateliér from the Czech Radio station Vltava, and started the internet portal rAdioCUSTICA, which is focused on mapping the contemporary scene of acoustic arts in the Czech Republic. Since 2014, he has been collaborating externally with the Czech Radio and currently teaches composition at HAMU and NYU Prague.

         Movisis a free sequel in a series of orchestral compositions, which thematize various aspects of listening to music. The composition Spatialis was written in 2013 and was premiered by the Berg Orchestra under the direction of Peter Vrábel. It focuses on spatial relationships in music: the tension between a chamber orchestra and the orchestra of speakers surrounding the listeners in the shape of a spiral. 2015 saw the creation of Temporis,the concerto for cimbalom and orchestra, with the solo part performed by Jan Mikušek. The piece was premiered at Ostrava Days 2015 (conductor Rolf Gupta) and was revived in 2018 as part of the Santa Rosa Sumphony’s seasonal subscription concert series (with Bruno Ferrandis). It thematizes the dimension of time in music, and how we listen to and perceive it. Movis delves into the theme of movement, at the rhythmic level as well as in the sense of an instrumental gesture, in relation to tempo and the mutual tension between the solo instrument and the orchestra. As if the piano was constantly trying to escape the totality of orchestral coordination, and wanted to achieve independence and leave behind a trace of itself. Sometimes, it becomes the initiator of the movement, while at other times it leaps absolutely independently into the orchestral terrain, most notably in the concerto cadenza, which is completely improvised and in which the orchestra transforms itself under the conductor's control into a kind of scout observing the movement of the soloist. I was fascinated by a similar tension between precise compositional structure and amazing improvisational feats when I heard a performance of Frederic Rzewski’s piano composition The People United Will Never Be Defeated! played by Daan Vandewalle. The work on the piano concerto Movis was directly influenced by this experience and I am deeply honored that Daan Vandewalle has agreed to take on the solo part. The rest is up to the movement of the stars.

         Movis is dedicated to Daan Vandewalle. A special thanks goes to Petr Kotík and Bruno Ferrandis.

Michal Rataj


Chaya Czernowin – Guardian (2017)

         Composer Chaya Czernowin was born in the Israeli city of Haifa, and after sojourns in Germany and Japan, settled in the USA. Among her professors of composition were Dieter Schnebel and Brian Ferneyhough. The music of Chaya Czernowin offers unusual sound colours and combinations of instruments, which often make a notably visceral impression on the listeners. At one point it can feel harsh and aggressive, and at another it can resemble a continuously changing liquid. The perception of time, which speeds up and slows down in her compositions, also plays a vital role. Czernowin often treats instrument combinations as if they were commensurate to a single polyvocal instrument. Be it in compositions with or without electronics, the listener can often only guess what instrument is being played. Apart from exploring sonic possibilities, the music of Chaya Czernowin is also often politically charged, especially notable in her two operas: Pnima...ins Innere (2000) and Adama (2005). The latter was composed as a response to Mozart's opera Zaïdeon the occasion of the 250th anniversary of his birth.

Matěj Kratochvíl

         In Guardian the cello is dreaming of the orchestra and vice versa. At times, the cello grows to include the orchestra within its resonant body. The orchestra, at times, dreams that it is the cello, or even just one of its strings, or the tip of the bow. Time compresses and stretches so thin that it becomes a scent rather than a canvas. This scent is an intense color, which stains the form, distorts and transforms it. But everything is tenuous and either remains or disappears or is left hanging so that the form is no solid object but rather a structured utterance. The piece resides in an almost impossible continuum, which might be imagined this way: space – presence – nuance – color – movement – gesture – drama – song. The field of open form in algorithmic visual computer work enables a multi-dimensional development of objects in a way that is not linear, as at any moment one or other parameters of the shape takes over, impacting the overall form. This is the thinking that inspired this concerto. The piece is dedicated to Séverine Ballon and owes much to her imagination and artistry.

Chaya Czernowin


Bernhard Lang – DW28 “Loops for Davis” (2017)            

         Bernhard Lang (1957, Linz) studied piano at the Bruckner Conservatory Linz and then moved to Graz to study classical and jazz piano. After finishing his studies, Lang took courses in composition with Polish composer Andrzej Dobrowolski, who introduced him to the techniques of new music. In 1998, Lang began teaching classes of his own in music theory, harmony, and counterpoint at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz. He has held a professorship in composition there since 2003. Since 1999, Lang’s main interest has been music theatre, derived from his theory of “difference/repetition”. Speaking to Czech Radio, Petr Bakla had this to say about Lang’s method: “His varied and thoughtful work with loops has been inspired by Martin Arnold’s films, experimental turntablists like Philip Jeck or by Deleuze’s treatise Différence et répétition. Whereas minimalism reveled in gradually unfolding processes and the repetition evoked a rather meditative atmosphere, Lang incorporates jump-cuts and irregularities that result in an unpredictable music full of sudden turns.” He has been a lecturer at Ostrava Days since 2009, and the festival frequently features his compositions – Lang’s opera Der Reigenbecame a highlight of NODO 2014 and his composition Monadology XXXVII “Loops for Leoš” of the Monadology series was written directly for OD 2017 and premiered during the festival. 

         DW28 “Loops for Davis” is the continuation of the sample-based pieces DW23 and DW24, which thematised the bass clarinet and the saxophone respectively. Here, the sample itself becomes the origin of the loop: not via simulation, transcription or recomposition, but with the aid of the sampler as an instrument in its own right (see Tilman Baumgärtel’s book Schleifen: Zur Geschichte und Ästhetik des Loops). In Loops for Davis, the samples are placed within an orchestral context on the one hand, and a small band context on the other hand. The orchestra is used as a macrosampler, a great loop machine; the solo clarinet confronts it with intricately notated solo lines, which sometimes open up to become improvised textures, but then joins in with the loops again. The piece was developed together with Gareth Davis, and the amplification and spatialisation technology at the SWR Experimental Studio in Freiburg (with Reinhold Braig). In my previous work with Davis, I had already developed what I called “Parkerphonics” as a new playing technique, one that is also used here. The ambiguity of the dedication also invokes Miles Davis, of course. He is joined by the phantoms of Eric Dolphy and other jazz greats, barely recognisable, but present nonetheless. And the last word goes to…

Bernhard Lang



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