Ostrava Days  » Press Reviews

12.10.2009 Sounds like now
Muso Magazine

Alan Lockwood travels to Ostrava and discovers how contemporary music is making itself heard in the Czech Republic

Lively and productive, the Ostrava Days festival of new music holds an unusual place in the practice of contemporary classical composition. Held biannually since 2003 in Ostrava, the Czech Republic’s third-largest city, the festival’s concert week completes a composer institute that creates extraordinary support for new compositions. Ostrava Days founder Petr Kotik has run the seminal SEM Ensemble in New York City since relocating from Prague about four decades ago, and has gathered a superb festival team at Ostrava. The quiet city, once a centre of coal and steel production, lies a short drive from the Beskydy Mountains, its parks laden with late-summer wildflowers, pears and apples. It’s off the tourist track, but its Lord Mayor, Petr Kajnar, has attended the festival since its inception.

During the summer week of 21–30 August, sparkling musicianship was brought to some 90 works. The Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO) gave potent voice to vital music of our time, along with festival ensemble Ostravska Banda and invited participants. Hungarian percussion ensemble Amadinda struck hard with a programme including a work composed for them by John Cage, which they dedicated to the recent passing of his partner, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and Ligeti’s final work, sung sumptuously by mezzo soprano Katalin Károlyi. Belgian soloist Daan Vandewalle blazed through Ligeti’s Concert for Piano and Orchestraon closing night (calling the performance ‘rather relaxing’).

‘At Ostrava Days, people meet,’ Vandewalle said afterwards. ‘They exchange ideas and really get to know each other. That’s something very rare in a festival.’ Violinist Hana Kotkova had a career gracing Romantic concertos with her fierce, elegant style; then, Kotik introduced her to new music in 2003 with an invitation to perform Feldman’s Violin and Orchestra. Composer Christian Wolff spoke of the orchestra putting themselves on the map when they toured Karlheinz Stockhausen’s piece for three orchestras. ‘The Janáček had never played anything newer than, well, Janáček,’ Wolff noted. ‘They’ve come a long way.’

When played as part of typical concert programmes, Feldman’s orchestral pieces or Amériques– the rollicking modernist onslaught by Edgar Varèse that closed Ostrava Days 2009 – must
fit with works they hardly resemble. At Ostrava, the trenchant theme is music of today, with stakes raised by premieres and student pieces. On opening night, Feldman’s dynamic Flute and Orchestra was conducted by Peter Rundel in its third public performance, with Kotik in control of the unwavering solo part. ‘The musical situations change much more quickly than in Feldman’s later work,’ says Rundel. ‘Sforzando chords are rare in Feldman and make it very entertaining.’ Michael Schumacher, who established New York’s Diapason sound-art gallery, was the festival’s first lecturer on computers in composition. Berlin’s Phosphor Ensemble played his Isorhythmic
Variations at an afternoon recital that wrapped up with Peter Graham’s tribute to composer Mauricio Kagel, for piano, cimbalom and electronics. That evening, Ostravska Banda opened with the dispersed ensembles of Charles Ives’ The Unanswered Question, then played pieces by students Ravi Kittappa, Daniel Iglesias and Diego Soifer, and Wolfgang Rihm’s Gesungene Zeit in a breath-catching feat of virtuosity by the aforementioned violinist Kotkova.

Rebecca Saunders was a composer-lector at the festival in 2005 and returned to find ‘big, positive development, with things much tighter in the organisation.’ Her evocative, disquieting Stirrings Still II applied double bass to her original collage, adding what she termed a ‘sound surface’ to the clarinet and flute, with crotales or antique cymbals ringing at a remove and oboe playing double harmonics from the balcony. ‘Ostrava Days is an enormously productive environment,’ says Saunders, ‘one you don’t get in the States or England, and not much in Germany. Darmstadt is the obvious comparison, but they have 120 composers and Ostrava has 30, who get enormous input. They also get a lot from each other.’ Pianist Joseph Kubera’s hour-long solo by Michael Byron came around midnight, after a daunting programme of solos that had followed the festival’s first string quartet recital by Rotterdam’s DoelenKwartet. Byron’s evolving patterns and Kubera’s limpid playing deserved more attentive listeners. (Muhal Richard Abrams, the master improviser and an Ostrava participant, once commented that ‘Joe has a bell at the end of every finger.’)

The second orchestral night was a thorny affair, chock full of demanding works by lectors Kotik, Sharp, Bernhard Lang and Frantisek Chaloupka. Chaloupka, a resident student at previous festivals, recently graduated from the Janáček Conservatory in Brno. ‘Here you have three years, [like at] a conservatory, in three weeks,’ he told me in the lobby. ‘Concerts, seminars, cafes, people exchanging. The atmosphere gives you courage to make other things.’ Chaloupka’s work is on the festival’s live double disc, as is the searing intensity of Kotkova’s violin performance.

The ancient, frescoed St Wenceslas cathedral hosted a marvellous concert of vocal and instrumental pieces. The first half opened and closed with Galina Ustwolskaja’s imposing Symphony No 4, and held a small gem by student composer Michael Winter. Winter said Petr Kotik challenged him to produce his first choral piece, with protracted interplay between bass voices flanking a section with the singers of Canticum Ostrava clanging tin cups. Contrabass clarinettist Theo Nabicht and accordionist Milan Osadsky found sonic wonders in Chikage Imai’s student duet before the chorus intoned Elliott Sharp’s gentle a cappellapiece.

Later at Club Parnik, traditional musicians and a resident-composer band were boisterously received; then, the dance floor thrived to John Eckhardt’s compulsive drum’n’bass. At Ostrava, hotel breakfast buffets teemed with conversation, and late-night beer gardens flowed with exchanges and Radegast and Ostravar, the local pilsners. One cozy haven was Mary’s Radio Bar, across from the modernist Gallery of Fine Arts where a marathon of electronic acts had ranged from Lukas Szalankiewicz, in town from Krakow, to the midnight set by Double Affair teaming up with Peter Krajniak – who happens to direct theJPO.

In establishing its diverse, enthusiastic atmosphere of accomplishment, Ostrava Days carves an auspicious path into the musical future.

- Alan Lockwood





(October 22 – November 5)

OCNM and Svatováclavský hudební festival, festival Contempuls, City of Opava, Akademia Muzyczna im. Karola Szymanowskiego w Katowicach, Kulturzentrum bei den Minoriten and Muziekcentrum Vredenburg present the Ostravská banda Fall 2010 tour.


The concert was a success!

The September 3, 2010, concert with Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, organized in cooperation with Ostrava Center for New Music, was a success!



Philharmonic Hall

Lead by Petr Kotík, the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra will perform a special concert organized in cooperation with Ostrava Center for New Music held on September 3, 2010 at 7pm in Philharmonic Hall (Dům kultury města Ostravy).


PUBLISHING: DVD Documentary and Ostrava Days 2009 Report !!!

The DVD Ostrava’s New Music Foundry (in both Czech and English versions) documents Ostrava Days 2009. We have also just finished the Ostrava Days 2009 Report (English publication). Both of them are available in our office!


Ostravská banda Shined at Archa Theatre!

The closing event of the project Ostrava in Prague, the Ostravská banda concert Sunday, June 6 was excellent. The Ostravská banda, meeting for the second time of 2010 (the first time in January for the musicadhoy festival in Madrid) gave a stunning performance.

Ostrava Center for New Music has just released a doubleCD with eight live recordings of Ostrava Days 2009.
Ostrava Center for New Music invites you to a concert of Ostravská banda held on 6th June 2010 in Archa Theatre. Concert is supported by the City of Ostrava and is organized as a part of the project "Ostrava in Prague" in support Ostrava's candidacy for European Capital of Culture 2015.
23.04.2010Musicians from Tallinn
Petr Kotík has started to collaborate with Estonian musicians — Hirvo Surva, conductor and director of Estonian National Opera Boys Choir; Zoja Hertz, accompanist and voice master; and Heldur Harry Polda and Voldemar Kants thirteen-year-old boy soloists for Galina Ustwolskaja’s Symphony no. 2.
23.03.2010Double-documentary movie about Ostravská banda and Janáček chambre orchestra
Watch the documentary movie from 2008 on ČT website.
17.03.2010Recordings from Ostrava Days on Bandzone.cz
There are music samples from Ostrava Days 2007 and 2009: György Ligeti, Charles Ives, Paulina Załubska, Pablo Chin Pampillo, Salvatore Sciarrino and Christian Wolff pieces, all performed by Ostravská banda.
10.03.2010G. Douglas Barrett's article in HIS VOICE
In a current issue od HIS VOICE magazine there is an article about Peter Ablinger's music, the author of the article - G. Douglas Barrett was a resident-student of Ostrava Days 2007 and 2009.
01.03.2010Interview with Petr Kotík in Czech TV
Petr Kotík was on January, 28 as a guest in a talkshow called Before Midnight...
26.02.2010New on Bandzone.cz
Ostravská banda has a new profile with recordings on Bandzone. Go for listening...
26.01.2010Concert of Ostravská banda in Madrid
On Thursday January 21, 2010 Ostravská banda started the concert season „Universo Ustwolskaja“, which is dedicated to Galina Ustwolskaja, a Russian Composer. Along with Ostravská banda and conductor Petr Kotík there performed also the soloists Daan Vandewaalle (Piano), Arne Defoce (Cello), Marta Marinová (Voice) and Conrad Harris (Violin).
18.12.2009Ostravská banda in Madrid
Ostravská banda will perform pieces of Galina Ustwolskaja at musicadhoy2010 Festival in Madrid.
29.10.2009Musical America and Muso Magazine about Ostrava Days 2009
reviews about Ostrava Days in section Media / Press Reviews
25.09.2009Photos from Ostrava Days 2009
You can check almost all photos from Ostrava Days 2009 - New Music Institute and Festival.
08.09.2009Prague Post about Ostrava Days 2009
Media / Press Reviews
30.08.2009Ostrava Days 2009 Culminates in Its Closing Concert!
One of the best experiences at this year’s Ostrava Days festival was the closing concert, which was held on Saturday, 29 August, at Dům kultury in Ostrava. This was the last of the sixteen concerts at the 5th biennial this year, and it was the occasion of three major events: the world premiere of Rhapsody for 3 Orchestras, by the American composer Christian Wolff, who was in attendance; Concert for Piano and Orchestra by György Ligeti; and Amériques by Edgard Varése. At one point as many as 120 players were performing in Dům kultury. It is hard to believe that Varése wrote this grand fantasy of sound around ninety years ago. Mountains of sound filled the concert hall with music and took away the breath of everyone in attendance.
24.08.2009Computers in Composition / Phosphor Ensemble, 24.8.2009 / 17:00 Janáček Conservatory in Ostrava
Lejaren Hiller: Sonata No. 3 for Violin and Piano Peter Graham: A Nap Samuel Sfirri: for Callum Innes Michael Schumacher: Isorhythmic Variations Phosphor Ensemble: In Real Time
21.08.2009Phill Niblock: Projection & Music / 21.8.09 / 20:00 Vítkovice Site - Blast Furnaces, Hall No. 6
Composing music, listening to music and performing music and are all different activities, which may not be necessarily connected in any way and have nothing to do with each other. This is a known statement John Cage made long time ago. The example of Phill Niblock is a testimony to the truthfulness of it. Niblock is not a musician. He never learned how to read music notation and for the realization of his scores, he needs an assistant. Despite this, there is no doubt that the music he is creating (ergo composing) has all the attributes of the works of music with we we are familiar; his compositions have a wide appeal and a firm place in the context of the music of the 20th and 21st century. Niblock’s example is indeed inspiring. He shows us how and to what extent an author can be separate from the making of music. His compositions also indicate just the opposite: namely, that being a musician of the highest caliber does not guarantee one the ability to write a single note worth listening to. Niblock composes music of sustained micro-tones produced by instruments, or vocalists, recorded on multi-track, and combined in live performance with sustained tones produced by musicians. Niblock combines pitches in order to create, through their proximity and durations, rhythmical beats and changes in harmonic overtone structure. His music, as well as his films and videos, are a reflection of the dynamic relationship between stasis and movement. He does not match his compositions to his films; they are presented together randomly. Niblock believes that this creates an ideal performance situation, with just the right degree of indeterminacy. Phill Niblock has traveled extensively, making videos and films in places like China, Hungary, South Africa, Peru, Mexico, Quebec, and among the indigenous people of the Arctic. Each year, Niblock produces a series of performances in his loft on Centre Street in New York City, also known as the Experimental Intermedia (EI). I met Niblock for the first time in the summer of 1972 at Burdocks festival, organized by Christian Wolff in Hanover, New Hampshire. Since then, we have collaborated many times in the U.S. and Europe, including many performances at his Experimental Intermedia in New York. - Petr Kotík, Augst 7, 2009
19.08.2009Festival Ostrava Days 2009 starts already in two days!!!
All the rehearsal rooms of the Janáček Philharmonic and the Janáček Conservatory are filled with musicians from all over the world from morning till evening. Apart from the local Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava (under conductors Roland Kluttig, Peter Rundel, Onřej Vrabec and the director Petr Kotík), the choir Canticum Ostrava (under Yurii Galatenko) also rehearses the premiere compositions for the performance in St. Wenceslas Church.
10.08.2009Institute began
Ostrava Days Institute just began. There are about 30 students from foreign universities. First discussions were done during Petr Kotík's presentation. Today Michael Schumacher (New York) and Philip Thomas (Hudersfield) arrive and will lead lessons.
30.07.2009Pavel Rudolf: Scores
Exhibition of Pavel Rudolf’s scores at Gallery Beseda is a part of Ostrava Days 2009. The exhibition will commence on August 24th at 5 p.m. and will hang through September 6th. Galerie Beseda, Jurečkova 18, 702 00 Ostrava Opening hours: Mon-Thu 9 a.m. – 7 p.m., Fri 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. www.galeriebeseda.cz
12.06.2009New Lector coming to Ostrava Days 2009 Institute
There is another lector coming to Ostrava Days 2009 Institute. Philip Thomas BMus (Hons) MMus PhD form University of Huddersfield will have the seminars on August 11th and 12th, 2009.
01.06.2009Ostrava in New York
In weekly Magazine "Týden" issued June 1st 2009 there is the article about the Concert of Ostravská banda in Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, New York.
19.05.2009Mini Marathon of Electronic Music at Ostrava Days 2009
Saturday, August 22 16:00 – 24:00 Gallery of Fine Arts in Ostrava, Jurečkova 8
27.04.2009Ostrava days Report 2007
Ostrava Center for New Music published The Ostrava Days 2007 REPORT that documents Ostrava Days 2007 Institute and Festival. Contains detailed information about Ostrava Days 2007 including transcripts of selected seminars, discussions, comments and reviews and photographs.
10.03.2009Ostravská banda in New York
Ostravská banda is going to perform on May 6, 2009 at Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center in New York. The concert will also feature The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble and FLUX Quartet and will be part of “Ostrava Days in New York” event, organized by the Czech Center from 4th to 13th of May at the Bohemian National Hall, 321 East 73rd Street.
10.03.2009Music of Ostrava Days LIVE
Ostrava Center for New Music in cooperation with the Czech Music Information Center issued a 2CD with recordings of previous biennials of Ostrava Days Festival. 2CD is published as an annex to magazine subscribers of His Voice Magazine 3/4.
09.12.2008The Application deadline for OD 2009 Institute is MARCH 15th 2009!!!
Ostrava Center for New Music has already announced the Institute program for Ostrava Days 2009. It takes place from August 10-30, 2009 in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
09.12.2008Ostrava Days 2007 / DVD documentary
Ostrava Center for New Music published documentary about Ostrava Days 2007.