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Czech composer Janáček star of festival

Thomas Sovík, Director of Central European Studies and Exchanges.Musicians, clinicians and scholars from around the world will convene on campus Feb. 6-9 for a festival honoring eminent Czech composer Leoš Janáček. Above, Thomas Sovík, professor of music theory and festival organizer.

The music festival is a collaboration between the College of Music and the Janáček Academy of Music and the Performing Arts in Brno, Czech Republic. It will feature concerts, lectures and an academic conference, and will conclude with the U.S. premiere of a performance of Janáček’s song cycle Zápisník zmizelého (The Diary of One Who Disappeared).

Many of the concerts and sessions will be streamed live online around the world.

Leoš JanáčekJanáček (1854-1928), right, who is regarded as one of the greatest Czech composers, along with Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák, took inspiration from Moravian folk songs and modernist techniques. He primarily wrote orchestral, chamber and operatic works, and has become one of the most performed opera composers of the 20th century.

“Although Smetana and Dvořák used musical ideas that referenced their country in a nationalist movement, it was Janáček who collected and preserved Moravian folk songs and incorporated them in his classical compositions through his use of modality, pentatonic scales and modeling vocal parts on the inflections of the Czech language,” said Sovik, festival organizer and Director of Central European Studies and Exchanges.

The partnership between UNT and the Janáček Academy began in the early 1990s.

“We’ve now taken 36 groups to Europe on study-abroad adventures, including our active student-exchange program with the academy,” Sovík said.

UNT students at the Janacek Academy, from left, Megan LaFour, Julie Silva, Jonathan Yarrington, Laurel Semerdjian and Chaazi MunyanyaRight, UNT students at the academy, from left, Megan LaFour, Julie Silva, Jonathan Yarrington, Laurel Semerdjian and Chaazi Munyanya.

“The College of Music has a substantial endowment from the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas to support Czech music here at home, and that endowment has enabled us to not only bring Czech classical and folk musicians to perform here in Texas, but to stage Smetana’s opera Prodaná nevěsta (The Bartered Bride) and, now, this festival.”

The opera was the first at UNT to be performed in Czech and received an award in 2011 in the National Opera Association’s Opera Production Competition.

Performances by the university’s world class student musicians and faculty - who are attracted to UNT because of learning opportunities such as this festival - will be Feb. 6-9 in the Winspear Performance Hall of the Murchison Performing Arts Center.

Enter to win a pair of tickets to these concerts by sending an email to InHouse with “Janáček Feb. 6,” “Janáček Feb. 8” or “Janáček Feb. 9” in the subject line by 5 p.m. Feb. 1. Winners of one pair of tickets per concert will be selected at random from all responses.   

  • 8 p.m. Feb. 6 - The UNT Symphony Orchestra - An Evening of Czech Works: Janáček, Dvořák and Suk; conducted by David Itkin, Anshel Brusilow Professor of Conducting and director of Orchestral Studies; free lecture, 7 p.m., Instrumental Rehearsal Room
  • 8 p.m. Feb. 8Baroque Orchestra and Collegium SingersMusica Bohemia; conducted by Paul Leenhouts, director of Early Music Studies and Richard Sparks, chair, Conducting and Ensembles; free pre-concert lecture by Sovík, 7 p.m., Instrumental Rehearsal Room
  • 8 p.m. Feb. 9 - UNT Choirs, Opera and Chamber OrchestraZapisnik Zmizeleho (The Diary of One Who Disappeared) conducted by Vít Spilka in the U.S. premiere of a new orchestrated and semi-staged version, originally written as a song cycle for voice and piano; pre-concert lecture by Miloš Orson Štědroň, who orchestrated the work with his father, 7 p.m.

This performance follows UNT’s world premiere of the orchestrated version in Brno, which was performed over the Thanksgiving holiday – in Czech – by UNT students.

The festival also includes a free concert, Chamber Music of Janáček, at 5 p.m. Feb. 8, in Voertman Hall, performed by faculty and student chamber ensembles. The concert will be preceded by a lecture at 4:15 p.m. in Music Building Room 258.

The keynote speaker for the academic conference will be Michael Beckerman, Janáček scholar and chair of the Department of Music at New York University. Other speakers from the Czech Republic include:

  • Štědroň, Prague Conservatory
  • Mikuláš Bek, musicologist and Rector of Masaryk University
  • Ivo Medek, composer and Rector of the Janáček Academy,  Brno
  • Spilka, clarinetist-conductor and head of the academy’s Department of Music
  • Lenka Křupková, head of Musicological Studies, Palacký University,  Olomouc
  • Vít Zouhar, composer and musicologist, Palacký University

Major funding for the festival and conference is by the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas, which was established to support the teaching of Czech language and culture at high school and college levels; the Frank J. and Hermine Hurta Kostohryz Residency in Czech Music and Culture; the Dr. Jim J. and Rose A. Bezdek Endowment Fund Celebrating Czech Music and Culture; the UNT Fine Arts Series; and the UNT College of Music.

- Margarita Venegas, News Promotions

(Photo by Gary Payne)

Posted on: Wed 23 January 2013

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