– American composer, co-founder of Musica Elettronica Viva, lives in Rome
Ostrava Days Festival is in perfect sync with the blooming, warmth and seasonal promise of regeneration. Yet these exquisite Festival Days go a step further: they illuminate paths, roads, and freeways to unimaginable futures in music composition and performance, and make possible for all of us to journey along as equals. Attempting to transform the urban map into an open-musical-score, Ostrava Days are where Artificial Intelligence dances with Dada, where the streets and plazas become concert halls and where carbon-free symphonies are born in former coal-mines – and this is just the beginning. It’s a whole new tuning system!
Alvin Curran, September 24, 2022
– Austrian composer, professor Emeritus of Composition, Graz University of the Arts, lives in Vienna
In the Perspective of the Last Decade
I've seen a lot of festivals in the last thirty years. But when I first came to Ostrava Days in 2009, it felt like breathing fresh air: there were none of preconceived ideas that you encounter elsewhere. The whole environment was energized by openness, courage, determination and dedication to music and art. Actually, It made me realize right in 2009, how narrowminded the other festivals are. I discovered many excellent composers, that have never been presented elsewhere in Europe – just to mention a few: Petr Kotik, Petr Bakla and Petr Cigler. It felt like being on the other side of an iron curtain again.
On the other hand, Ostrava Days seemed like a kind of a gateway to America, represented by Petr Kotik himself, a multi-continent personality. In Ostrava, I finally met composers like Christian Wolff, Phill Niblock, Elliott Sharp, and Phil Glass, among others – Glass also performed there. You don't find such situations at other new music festivals.
Also at Ostrava Days, what became for me greatly beneficial and fascinating has been an East-West encounter, rediscovering Janacek, Hába, and encountering major works by Martin Smolka, for example.
But, Ostrava Days is also an important social event, a place to meet other composers and performers and an enthusiastic audience, which returns year after a year. My acquaintance of Daan Vandewalle, for example, led to a close collaboration all over Europe.
It has to be said – Ostrava Days is making the impossible possible, something surely coming out of the mind of Petr Kotik. On top of it, the venues! - Triple hall Karolina (where three orchestra event that also included Stockhausen's „Gruppen“ felt like natural place for it), two opera houses, the 200-seat Janacek Conservatory concert hall and other post-industrial spaces. Over the years, Ostrava added more and more performance possibilities.
I once invited two directors of a renowned Austrian music festival to Ostrava. While sitting at an event in Triple Hall Karolina, one of them asked me „ How do they do this?“
He should have known better.
Bernhard Lang, September 28, 2022
– American/Italian scholar and composer, resident of Ostrava Days Institute in 2019 & 2021, professor at Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin, lives in Berlin
Ostrava Days, the three-week-long Institute and the 10-day-long Festival of public performances, are intense and intellectually challenging. They bring together what is best in the North American and European music of today. The Festival has a global focus, building on underlying ideas rooted in the American experimentation of the last half-century, in which Petr Kotík, the artistic director of Ostrava Days, has been a major voice. Most other festivals often implicitly (or explicitly) exert pressure to conform to a relatively narrow aesthetic, with the expectation to encounter what the ‘cool kids’ are doing in the local microclimate. it results in similar-sounding pieces that explore the same aesthetic issues. Ostrava Days, on the other hand, offers a diverse selection, along with three weeks of camaraderie, cooperation, and exploration. The Festival’s focus, and the Institute's student residents, are international and diverse. The residents present their works to the public. Chaya Czernowin, Raven Chacon, Marc Sabat, Klaus Lang, Bernhard Lang, Isabel Mundry, Frederic Rzewski, and Alvin Curran, among others, were all present at Ostrava Days when I was there, lecturing, offering seminars and discussions, especially in the days leading to the start of the concerts. Ostrava Days is a fantastic event – one of the most enriching enterprises one can undertake these days, as a composer or a performer. My fondest memory is lying past midnight between grand pianos with fellow residents, listening to Julius Eastman's music in an 18-hour-long performance event, and then waking in the early morning to hear Alvin Lucier’s Twonings.
James Helgeson, September 2022
– composer, professor at Université de Montréal
Ostrava Days is an important festival and also academy for young composers. They can exchange ideas, talk about their work, be coached and, most importantly, work with the musicians on their own compositions. It provides a unique opportunity to experience work with the performers and it definitely helps building strong friendships among all the artists.
– composer, saxophonist, ethnomusicologist, OD 2017 & 2021 resident
Ostrava Days is a full immersion in music with its unique festival and wonderful institute. It is a place where composers with different interests and backgrounds meet to exchange ideas and learn.
During my time there, I met some major living composers to discuss my music and received advice, guidance and encouragement. I also met and networked with composers at any career stage. The conversations about music continued at the pub after the long days at the institute and the concert evenings. Overall, Ostrava Days is a fantastic experience for every composer, a special place for growing musically in a highly professional yet welcoming and friendly environment.
– composer, performer, OD 2003 & 2021 resident
I was very happy to return to Ostrava Days in Summer 2021 after more than a decade away. For myself, as a composer, Ostrava Days has been a festival that made seemingly impossible things happen cheerfully. It’s fitting that I returned to hear a work that no one else would dare present, a piece I worked on for nearly ten years – for large ensemble and voice, entirely in quarter-tones and sung in Anglo-Saxon – that I had given up hope of being performed. Ostrava Days not only agreed to perform it, but also asked me to expand it for the members of ONO – the Ostrava New Orchestra. Hearing it live was a highlight of my career.
I first attended almost twenty years ago, in 2003, when it was a scrappy festival finding its footing. Since then, Petr, Renata and the remarkable and dedicated staff of OD have succeeded in building a community and a space for new and experimental music, not only in Ostrava, the Czech Republic, or Eastern Europe, but also globally.
Ostrava was an incredible experience and part of an incredibly important summer for me as an artist.
One could easily imagine a world-class contemporary music festival and institute in a larger, more international city, but it would lack the sense of community that is a hallmark of Ostrava Days. It is produced as a labor of love, and the world of avant garde music is better for it.
Residency at Ostrava Days has changed my life drastically. After very weak experience with New music (i was mostly improviser and experimental jazz composer/performer before), I've got a chance to study with the greatest composers and meet people with a deep knowledge and dedication. I don't think, there is any other festival (of any genre) in the country , which has that great line up and which is full of music on that level. I was really surprised, that I found that in Ostrava.
Ostrava Days and Institute are 3 magical weeks of music, performance, study and friendship. A truly life-changing experience!
Ostrava Days were fantastic!!! I took a part in Ostrava Days 2011, My piece for symphony orchestra called Scherzo was performed that year by the The Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra , condacted by Ondrej Vrabec. I have to admit that I was pleased by the premier of my piece. The orchestra did a good job eve though the piece was not easy!
I also found Ostravskie Dny a very interesting festival open for new ideas of young composers. The atmosphere of the festival is very conductive to interesting discussions about music and art.
I am very happy that I had my piece premiered in Ostrava and I always recomand friend composers to attend Ostrava Days.
I was a part of Ostrava Days in 2007, and 2009. There, I saw some of the greatest musical performances I've had the pleasure to witness, which I often think back on, as well as being able to have performances and premieres of my own work, which were without compare. More important than what took place during those weeks, however, are the human connections I made.
Through Ostrava, I met friends and musical collaborators who I'm still close with and working with today. Those connections are what make Ostrava Days not just a great music festival, but an invaluable place/time for bringing musicians together.
By far, Ostrava Days is the best experience of new music teaching and performance I have had; the faculty is extraordinary, the musicians are the best, the staff is very helpful, and my fellow students, from many places around the globe, were amazing. The quiet and slow pace of the provincial town of Ostrava provided an excellent sonic environment for new music. I’m looking forward to news on the upcoming session in 2021.
I don't think I've ever learned so much about music in such a short time frame as I did in Ostrava Days 2019. Everyone there—fellows, teachers, performers and administrators—had a unique and compelling perspective on what music could and might be; and the environment built by that collective was nothing short of awe-inspiring. I couldn't ask for a better festival or for a more enriching experience :)
Ostrava Days and NODO events and its musical and human community always made me feel openminded, deeply concentrated, enraptured and inspired that anything is possible if there's will for it. And it showed me the magic of contemporary music.
Ostrava Days provides a real-world educational forum for those whose musical practices exist inside and outside of traditional academic settings. As an emerging composer who works outside of academia, the opportunity for me to compose a highly experimental 20-minute work for full choir was invaluable and thrilling. Petr Kotik encourages all experimentation, when I told him that the work would be longer than I planned and that the singers would be using their heartbeat as a metronome he simply responded that he was looking forward to it! It was my first time writing for choir, or any large ensemble for that matter, and to have it be rehearsed for 9 hours and then performed at the highest possible level in an acoustically perfect hall alongside the works of Ligeti and Klaus Lang is a situation that would only happen at Ostrava. Furthermore, on that same concert I also performed as a violist in an ensemble work by Klaus Lang and sang in the choir for the wild Yves Klein piece "Monotone Silence". Only at Ostrava.
Residents at the festival are not students, they are active participants. I took composition lessons with Master Artists, performed their works with the Banda, learned from their lectures and enjoyed the wonderful company of fellow residents and musicians.
I cannot speak highly enough of my time at Ostrava Days. My experiences there have been genuinely life-changing and truly transformative. I would not be where I am today without having taken part in Ostrava Days. It is an opportunity without parallel for an emerging composer.
Ostrava is unique institute and festival, completely dedicated to young composers and the benefit of their stay, cooperation, lectures, socializing is priceless... especially the professional friendships that we created there that will remain for a lifetime.
The importance of Ostrava Days, especially at this moment in history, cannot be overestimated. The commitment that the facilitators bring to producing this unprecedented and inclusive festival, and the radical open-mindedness of Petr Kotik and the organizers, make this an essential event in the new music world. Where else are new composers given such attention and respect, alongside established voices? We cannot let cultural work like this disappear.
Ostrava Days is the most intensely unique combination of artists, venues, and ways of thinking that I have encountered. It’s a beautiful and rare thing to find so many people interested in learning and sharing from each other - not just in lectures and rehearsals, but also in sharing meals and exploring the city together. For 3 weeks, Ostrava overflows with experimentation and a tangible energy that you just can’t miss.
I have been to Ostrava Days twice while studying composition, and both visits were important experiences for my musical “upbringing”. Neither before nor since I had the opportunity to meet so many composers from around the whole world.
I liked how everyone was so open and attentive to each other’s works, and this generally open atmosphere made it so easy to break out from my aesthetic frame. The organizing team has always been exceptionally hardworking, always ready to help. Although Ostrava Days is “only” three weeks long, the huge mass of memories I gained there always made me feel it is much longer. As more time passes I more and more realize how important these experiences were to me. I hope to be back soon!
I was there in 2013 and it was a great days for me, thank you!
I have been to many festivals and Ostrava Days is without a doubt something special. It has inspired and challenged me and I think I am a better composer for the experience. The people I met at Ostrava have also been a boon to me in many ways and I’m grateful for the bonds I forged there.