Tuesday, April 12, 2011: Grace
Can it heal you? Can it bring reconciliation, acceptance, peace? That quality known as Grace?
Reconciliation is the aim, and haunting the potential result, of Smírčí Milosti (Conciliatory Graces) for Two Violins. It was written by Czech composer Jiří Sycha. We heard it performed last January, and haven’t been able to get it out of our mind since.
So, for Opus Osm, we asked the composer why he wrote the piece. “My inspiration was my reconciliation with the circumstance of my mother,” Mr Sycha explains.
“She was ill, and spent about 20 years in a psychiatric clinic. This music was a way that I could ‘square up’ her circumstance and its impingement on my life, in my soul.
“The music was for my act of grace, and therefore its name is Conciliatory Graces,” he continues. “The motif is also, ‘What good is the evil in our lives?’”
The young composer/musician describes its sources as Moravian traditional folk music, with the influence of Renaissance and Baroque colors. “The two violins represent my mother and me,” he says.
We asked violinist Jan Vrkoč why he decided to perform it. “I have several reasons,” he says. “Mainly, it’s because of my long-time interest in modern music with a spiritual focus, and liturgical music, and Jiří Sycha has written several such compositions with a spiritual focus. They are always very interesting.”
The violinist describes the piece as of “medium” difficulty, but mainly full of ideas which help a musician interpret it, with a positive result. The performance carried additional meaning for Mr Vrkoč, who adds that the violinist performing the second role with him was his long-time friend and school mate Růžena Sršňová. And coincidentally, composer Sycha is his brother-in-law.“He is a little ahead of us, we who are his relatives,” Mr Vrkoč says, “and he’s also a little bit shy and secretive” about his music, as he describes the composer.
Indeed, it can be difficult to find pieces by Mr Sycha. He admits that he has no music posted to YouTube or recordings, and no upcoming concerts featuring his work. Even his brother-in-law admits, “I’ve heard some of his chamber compositions, but I don’t know much about his other works.”
Mr Sycha, born in 1979, studied violin and composition at the church conservatory in Kroměříž and attended post-graduate courses. In 2003 he won the Yamaha Competition, and performs as concertmaster and soloist at several European concerts and festivals. He is also a permanent member of the Middle European Baroque Orchestra, and a conductor of the Bolech Chamber Orchestra of Tábor.
You can hear an excerpt from Smírčí Milosti (Conciliatory Graces) by clicking on “Too” at the top of your screen. oo
– Mary Matz
Photo Credits: Musicians, Zuzana Pernicová; all others, Bolech Orchestra of Tábor website