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2018_Prague Spring Festival 

 
 

Annual Report

  • Year: 
  • Please describe your organization’s activities over the past year, including concerts, commissions, collaborations, publications: 

    Prague Spring 2018

    In 2018, Prague Spring offered about 50 concerts that will excite lovers of the big orchestral sound, admirers of chamber music, contemporary music fans, and those who enjoy following the latest trends in the informed interpretation of the music of past eras.

    The main line of the festival’s dramaturgy was commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia. There were performances of music by Czech and Slovak composers, whose works were received to acclaim on stages around the world, thereby contributing to the formation of the modern cultural image of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic abroad. In connection with this, we were commemorating Bohuslav Martinů, Josef Suk, Klement Slavický, Pavel Bořkovec, Miloslav Kabeláč, and Eugen Suchoň, as well as representatives of the younger generation of composers including Michal Nejtek, Ondřej Adámek, Lukáš Sommer, and Marko Ivanović.

    Prague Spring also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leonard Bernstein, whose European debut took place at the very first annual Prague Spring (1946). The American conductor Keith Lockhart lead the Czech Philharmonic and top musical theatre singers from London in selections from Bernstein’s great Broadway musicals. The programme of another festival concert included a performance of Bernstein’s monumental Third Symphony.

    Prague Spring as the Venue of World Premieres

    Prague Spring is the sole Czech representative in the prestigious International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM). This is in accordance with the fact that world premieres of works written on commission for the festival are an integral part of Prague Spring programming.

    Michal Nejtek’s scope as an artist is remarkable: he has received commissions for new works from such renowned festivals as Warsaw Autumn and the Donaueschinger Musiktage. At the beginning of this season, the National Theatre in Brno performed his opera The Rules of Good Manners with great success. As was mentioned above, at Prague Spring the Warsaw Philharmonic was playing the world premiere of his composition Ultramarine.

    The prestigious ensemble Klangforum Wien gave the world premiere of a work by Luboš Mrkvička.

    Besides these two works commissioned by Prague Spring, the festival was also proudly presenting the world premiere of a song cycle titled Little Works by Marko Ivanović (performed by the Swedish mezzo soprano Katarina Karnéus).

    Adding to the list of world premieres will be an appearance by the Epoque Quartet, which was presenting the first performance of the compositions EQ172 Alexey Aslamas and Sundial by Jan Kučera.

    In celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia, Michal Müller has composed Passacaglia 1918, which likewise was given its world premiere at the festival in a performance by the Czech Nonet.

    The Graffe Quartet and the horn player Jan Vobořil were presenting André Previn’s new Quintet for Horn and String Quartet, which was commissioned to be premiered at Prague Spring by the Terezín Music Foundation. In collaboration with that foundation, a work by Jiří Gemrot was given its premiere at a concert of the vocal ensemble Martinů Voices.

    The same programme also featured the Czech premieres of works by Sivan Eldar and Eric Whitacre.

    The festival has also commissioned Jiří Gemrot to compose a compulsory composition to be played by contestants in the second round of the Prague Spring International Music Competition for French horn.

    Jana Boušková and the Prague Philharmonia gave the Czech premiere of the Concerto for Harp and Orchestra by Lukáš Sommer.

    Czech audience members also heard the composition Karakuri by Ondřej Adámek for the very first time. That took place at the festival appearance by the ensemble Prague Modern under the baton of the Swiss conductor Baldur Brönnimann, a specialist in contemporary music. The programme also presented classics of contemporary music, including works by Gérard Grisey, Jonathan Harvey, and Salvatore Sciarrino. Three festival evenings weredevoted exclusively to contemporary music.

    Besides Prague Modern, the programme featured the Austrian ensemble Klangorum Wien and the vocal group Neue Vocalsolisten from Stuttgart, Germany. Klangforum Wien is today regarded as one of the world’s top ensembles in the interpretation of contemporary music. Besides the aforementioned world premiere of a work by Mrkvička, it also played two compositions belonging to its established repertoire of Austro-German provenience: Monadologie XII by Bernhard Lang and Speicher I by Enno Poppe, who has in recent years become one of the chief representatives of the middle generation of German composers.

    The ensemble Neue Vocalsolisten does not regard itself as a choir, but rather as a chamber ensemble consisting of seven vocal soloists. They are a superior ensemble on the European scene specializing in the interpretation of contemporary compositions that make special demands and require an innovative, creative approach. This concert was their first appearance at Prague Spring, and they were presenting the best of their contemporary repertoire. All three of the works they were performing were composed for and premiered by Neue Vocalsolisten. The programme also featured Liebesgedichte by Georg Friedrich Haas and Le premier jour by Giovanni Bertelli, then the evening concluded with Twelve Madrigals by Salvatore Sciarrino.

  • Please describe your organization's research activities over the past year: 
    Con tempo diverso / The distant proximity of a common experience Society and music in the development of the Czech and Slovak nations in the years 1918–2018 A musicological conference on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Czech and Slovak statehood 30 – 31 May 2018, hosted by the Prague Spring International Music Festival The 100th anniversary of the founding of the modern democratic Czechoslovak State, which is celebrated in 2018, was a major impetus for various historical reflections. One of the possible topics of such deliberation is the development of music and musical culture in the Czech and Slovak nations in the past century. The abstract nature of its language makes music an extraordinarily sensitive expression of human creativity and rationality. It speaks in many layers and yet with greater lucidity than other areas of culture and science, as it more clearly reflects the authenticity and honesty of its creator’s statements. Even so, history has also seen it used as a tool of manipulation or as an embellishment to various political transformations. The Czech and Slovak nations share a common experience of the majority of the past century. We have lived and continue live in a proximity given by a similar mentality, historical experience, and an identical or very similar fate in the geopolitical development of Europe. Yet at the same time both nations have also experienced periods of separation, as we fostered our character through diverse inspirations and aims. And so we named the conference Con tempo diverso / In different tempos, with the seemingly absurd subtitle of The distant proximity of a common experience. Its aim was to depict the essence of those shared and separate periods of development of the musical cultures of both nations especially since the foundation of our joint republic in 1918. The conference mainly focused on these topics: - The musical culture of the First Republic - Prominent composers and musical institutions between the wars: the modern, the avant-garde, and the traditional - Art: Czech, German, Slovak, Hungarian, Jewish, global – nationality as inspiration and limitation - Reflection of the development of Czech and Slovak music in European cultures - Nationalism as a theme and a goal - Musicians and changes in society - Socialist realism in musical culture - The freedom of the sixties - The normalisation norms of music - The transformation of cultural policies on music - The joys and pains of the nineties - Separation of states = separation of music? People and institutions after 1992 - The present problems of Czech and Slovak musical culture
 

 

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