Ostravska banda I

26.8.2019, 19:00, Triple Hall Karolina


Anna Radziejewska, Mezzo-soprano
Lilianna Krych, Petr Kotík, Johannes Kalitzke, Conductors

Symon Henry*: debout, un respir grand comme (2016)
Ian Davis*: Two Movements for String Orchestra (2018)
Salvatore Sciarrino: Il cantiere del poema (2011)
Daniel Lo*: POIDS (2019)
Christian Wolff: Small Orchestra Piece (2019) WP
Isabel Mundry: Endless Sediments (2018)

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

As usual, the program for Ostravská banda’s first concert at Ostrava Days 2019 will offer compositions by young residents of the Ostrava Days Institute, as well as music by some of the most distinguished composers of our times. The program will feature works by Salvatore Sciarrino, Christian Wolff, and the German composer Isabel Mundry (first time at Ostrava Days). The programs at Ostrava Days Festival do not distinguish between student composers from masters. This lack of hierarchy allows for an atmosphere of spontaneity, a lively scene full of energy created when three generations work side by side. Ostravská banda have been named one of the world’s leading ensembles for contemporary music by critics worldwide. At last year’s NODO opera festival in Ostrava (NODO alternates with Ostrava Days each year) the performance of a Sciarrino opera, directed by conductor Lilianna Krych with mezzo-soprano Anna Radziejewska made an enormous impression. We asked Ms. Radziejewska to return to sing the Czech premiere of Sciarrino’s Il cantiere del poema.

Subject to change.


Symon Henry – debout, un respir grand comme (2016)

         Symon Henry’s (1985) artistic practice is based on the interaction between three major axes in their creations, namely concert music, visual arts and poetry. This transdisciplinary approach is particularly reflected in their graphic scores (instrumental or performative) which have been interpreted in North America, Europe and Asia by ensembles and soloists such as HSO-Stuttgart Symphony Orchestra, Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, SurPlus Ensemble, Kasia Kadlubowska, and Joseph Petric. Henry’s first collection of poetry, son corps parlait pour ne pas mourir, as well as their first art book of graphic scores, voir dans le vent qui hurle les étoiles rire, et rire, were published in 2016 at Éditions de la Tournure. Their visual art work has been exhibited at Chapelle historique du Bon-Pasteur, Gham & Dafe, Livart, Maison de la culture du Plateau-Mont-Royal, and at the Palazzo Ducale di Lucca.

„[…] and spring will always return, and its roses and flowers.“
Marie-Hélène Constant

         debout, un respir grand comme(standing, a breath as tall as) is a work of transition, something that was restless and perhaps became calmer along the way. It is softness and tenderness, even in its moments of intensity. It is a big, moving breath, a breath after an adverse wind, and also great small triumphs. A breath before moving on and before starting something over, another way. This piece was composed for the Ensemble contemporain de Montréal (ECM+), conducted by Véronique Lacroix, and premiered during the Génération2016tour throughout Canada.

Symon Henry


Ian Davis – Two Movements for String Orchestra (2018)

         Ian Davis (1989) is a composer and guitarist based in New York City. He holds a MA in music composition from Wesleyan University and works as a Teaching Artist with the New York Philharmonic’s Very Young Composers program. His work is informed by folk music, canon, counterpoint, works by children, graph notation, low-fidelity, and seemingly simple and transparent structural devices. 

         Two Movements for String Orchestra is an exploration in means of organizing pitched material. The first movement is framed by a system, which creates harmonic progressions wherein a tone remains constant, while chords move stepwise down a scale against it. In the second movement, three independent melodic lines of different metrical lengths and rhythmic values sound and repeat until they complete one full cycle. Additional contrapuntal voices move by diminution and augmentation.  

Ian Davis


Salvatore Sciarrino: Il Cantiere del Poema (2011)

         Salvatore Sciarrino (1947) began composing when he was twelve. He was self-taught and held his first public concert in 1962. Sciarrino found his original musical language – based on an enriched palette of instrumental sounds, extreme dynamic changes, very soft sounds at the edge of silence with suggestive repetitions of several simple characteristic elements – very early. He has written many compositions, and for many years he has been among the biggest “stars” of contemporary music. In addition to authoring most of his operas’ librettos, Sciarrino has written a number of articles, essays, and texts of various genres, some of which have been chosen and collected in Carte da suono(2001). Particularly important is his interdisciplinary book about musical form, Le Figure Della Musica Da Beethoven a Oggi (1998). Ostrava Days festival and New Opera Days Ostrava (NODO) have presented numerous compositions by Sciarrino, including his operas Infinito neroLa porta della legge, and Luci mie traditrici.

On my cooperation with Sciarrino

         I have been performing Salvatore Sciarrino’s works since 2004. My first role was Lady Macbeth in his opera Macbeth. The composer was present at one of the performances, and afterwards he promised me that we would meet again. Two years later, I received the score for Da gelo a geloand we performed it in Schwetzingen, Paris and Geneva. In Paris, Sciarrino asked me if I would perform his new opera, which had been on his mind for about 30 years but only now could be written, because he had finally found a performer for the main part – me. That was the beginning of Superflumina, a gigantic monodrama. 20thMay 2011, at the day of world premiere of this work in Mannheim, Sciarrino told me that he had a gift for me. A few days later, I received the score for Il Cantiere del poemawith dedication. Sciarrino wrote four compositions for my voice, but Superfluminaand Il Cantiere del Poemaare extreme – they are difficult and the score looks almost impossible to perform, but I was suprised to find that these works are well-suited for my voice. Il Cantiere del Poemaconsists of three parts; the first part, Carovane,is very simmilar to Intermezzo II fromSuperflumina(contra tenor part) but the range of the voice is much higher. It is fragile and beautiful music. I often discussed with Sciarrino how to sing extreme glissandi in the second part, Due titoli, because he did not specify it in the score. Eventually, we found an interesting way to perform it. In the last part, Cantiere, Sciarrino uses his typical short glissandi in melodic passages to evoke crying. I have to say that it was like a miracle to perfom this piece for the first time in Citta di Castello, Sciarrino’s hometown.

Anna Radziejewska


Daniel Lo – Poids (2019)

         Daniel Lo completed a PhD (Composition) at the University of York (UK) under the supervision of William Brooks. Previously, he studied composition at the University of Hong Kong where he graduated with first class honours in 2009 and then completed an MPhil in 2012. Lo’s works cover a wide range of musical genres, from orchestral to vocal pieces. The last few years saw the premieres of Home City Dream City(2014) for orchestra and field recordings and Efflorescence – Quasi-Concerto(2016) for orchestra, both commissioned by Hong Kong Sinfonietta; and violin concerto YouHuang (II), composed as part of Lo’s residency at the Ostrava Days festival (Czech Republic) in August 2017. One of Lo’s current compositional interests is to seek ways to integrate music with Hong Kong literature. Recent works inspired by contemporary local writers include two pieces written for Hong Kong Odyssey, commissioned by the Hong Kong Arts Festival 2017; a choral work Mary’s Chalk Circlefor narration, unaccompanied choir and video, presented by Hong Kong Voices in June 2017; and a chamber opera A Woman Such as Myself (based on Xi Xi’s short story A Girl Like Me), premiered in New Opera Days Ostrava (Czech Republic) in June 2018.

         Poinds – This piece was inspired by an art work bearing the same title (Poids, 1993) by French artist Louise Bourgeois. I was deeply impressed when I saw this installation at an exhibition (A Woman Without Secrets) in Edinburgh’s National Galleries of Scotland a few years ago. Poidsmeans “weight” in French. The base of the installation is made up of a mass of metal rods. It is connected to a long, thin, curving rod that rises to a height of about 2 meters above the ground. Attached to the end of the curving rod are a bunch of shiny, feather-like decorations. In addition, there are two blue glass balls hanging from the same end. This huge exhibit looks simple enough but it provides a stunning picture of delicate balance that is extremely fragile. I was told that the whole structure would collapse, with just one metal rod removed from the base. The weight of the base safeguards against collapse and consequent damage to the delicate decorations hanging from the curving rod. Yet what really touched me was to see how something seemingly light (like feather) or fragile (like glass) serves as well as counterpoise to a compact metal support. Fragility has weight. The main reason why Poidsappeals to me, just as other works of Louise Bourgeois do, is its capability to touch a string – not the kind of instinctive feelings like happiness, fear, anger, sadness… but much more subtle emotions that speak to one’s soul. Fragility and delicate balance emerge as the two major musical ideas in this work. There are occasional sections in which the instruments are made to play different tempi, creating a space where time seems to remain static. This is what I actually felt as I stood musing on the huge exhibit of Poids.

Daniel Lo


Christian Wolff – Small Orchestra Piece (2019)

         Christian Wolff (1934) studied piano with Grete Sultan and composition, briefly, with John Cage. Though he is mostly self-taught as a composer, the works of John Cage, Morton Feldman, David Tudor, and Earle Brown have been important to him, along with long associations with Cornelius Cardew and Frederic Rzewski. His work has been especially concerned with allowing performers (both professional and amateur) various degrees of freedom in the performance process. A number of pieces, from 1953 on, have been used or commissioned by Merce Cunningham. Wolff is also active as a performer and improviser (collaborating with, among others, Takehisa Kosugi and Larry Polansky). He has taught at Harvard and at Dartmouth College and received awards and grants from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and Deutschen Akademischen Austauschdienstes (DAAD) Berlin. Christian Wolff has been involved with Ostrava Days since 2001, both as a lecturer and as a musician.

         Small Orchestra Piece – “Small” as in “small preludes” or plain, fairly direct music. The score is open, available to arrangements for from 9 to 29 players, which must include (any) two winds, (any) two brass, and five strings (including at least two cellos and one bass). There is also an optional percussion part. Mostly the score specifies what category plays and if a line is played by just one instrument or more. lt also indicates tuttipassages, everyone playing. There are both passages that require conducting and others that don’t. For any given performance, once the available instruments are determined, the instrumentation, who plays what, is determined by the conductor and, if available, the composer, and possibly any other suitable people including the orchestra members. All players have a copy of the score as their “part”. The music is both “normally” notated and open in various ways, e.g. free coordinations and overlay of material; open rhythmic notation involving coordination through what a player hears; individual players each playing independently. And, again, I sometimes draw on pre-existing material, e.g. Bach, folk song. 

Christian Wolff


Isabel Mundry – Endless Sediments (2018)

         Born in Hesse in 1963 and raised in Berlin, Isabel Mundry honed her composition skills under Frank Michael Beyer, Gösta Neuwirth and Hans Zender, among others. This training was complemented by studies in musicology, art history and philosophy, as well as a course in computer science and composition at the Paris IRCAM. After gaining attention in the 90s for her chamber music compositions and ensemble and orchestral works, her first music theater work was a resounding success. Among the world premieres of recent years are works of various genres with diverse sources of inspiration, e.g.: InSounds, Archeologies(2018) for basset horn, violoncello and piano, she questions the proximity and distance of historical objects and cultural identities; and in the a cappellachoral piece Mouhanad, based on an interview with a Syrian refugee, cultural resonances and new acoustic neighborhoods are examined. Mundry is a member of the Academy of the Arts in Berlin and Munich as well as the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz. Since 1998 she has often been a lecturer at the Darmstadt Summer Courses. After holding a professorship at the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts from 1996, she has been a professor of composition at the Zurich University of the Arts since 2004 and, since 2011, a professor at the University of Music and Performing Arts Munich.

         Endless Sediments – The composition is about traces of temporally or spatially distant music. It is about their flashing and their layering and regrouping in the present form of my sound shapes. These traces are not quotations, but forms and methods, as the music emerges from memo techniques as opposed to writing, i.e. from performing – listening – remembering – etc… The first part refers to a five-layered polymetric pattern, as we know it from non-European cultures. It is too complex to be fully understood. In ever new ways, the music focuses some layers and blurs others. The resulting new forms inevitably provoke further distortions. The second part unfolds the narration of a monophonic melody that occasionally fans out, but always returns to the monodic. My inner model for it were forms as they emerged in the Gregorian chant. Finally, the third part is devoted to the acclamation, i.e. the response of sounds and their fluctuations, as well as transformation, as was or is to be found in all cultures.

Isabel Mundry




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