Wednesday, May 16, 2012: Around the Table

Opus Osm

In the church's sacristy, a bookcase-filled room behind the main altar, conductor Petr Vrábel, composer Hořínka, Tiburtina artistic director Barbora Sojková, and artist Bartáková answer audience questions, moderated by architect/St Salvator art curator Norbert Schmidt.

Around the Table: An Informal Chat with the Audience

“This was very interesting. I enjoyed the ‘wing,’” says Lenka. She’s an audience member speaking about the Marianum concert performed by The Berg Orchestra at the St Salvator church May 9.

The concert presented two world premiere compositions by Slavomír Hořínka and a Stabat Mater by Arvo Pärt, under a massive paper sculpture shaped like a kind of wing, by artist Magdalena Bartáková.

Mr Hořínka’s pieces, Litaniae Lauretanae and Magnificat, are based on traditional plainsong and chants, “updated,” as you can sample, below. During the performance the orchestra and The Tiburtina Ensemble and guest singers move throughout the aisles, balconies, and cupola of the tall cathedral-like church. “It was an interesting sound, coming from different places,” Lenka adds.

“I liked the concert very much,” Alena, another audience member tells Opus Osm over a glass of wine provided right after the concert. “It was very special, and surprising. The music and lighting [provided only by the setting sun through the leaded glass windows] were a very nice combination.”

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Her one regret, she says, is that Mr Hořínka’s compositions feature many short musical phrases, pauses, and even silence, so “there aren’t so many passages where you can hear the orchestra play” for very long. But never mind. The effect of the music and the orchestra “was perfect,” she admits, explaining that “it was very emotive, even sad.” She pantomimes tears on her cheeks even as she is smiling.

Alena doesn’t have a Catholic background, so she doesn’t bring knowledge of the texts for Mr Hořínka’s pieces to her enjoyment of this Marianum concert honoring the Virgin Mary. However, The Berg Orchestra program thoughtfully included the printed texts for all three compositions side-by-side, in both Latin and Czech.

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Zuzana, however, is Catholic and “I did understand the texts very well,” she tells us. “I know these texts so it wasn’t surprising to me. –It was a very special concert.”

Standing apart at the back of the room, Jaroslav tells us, “I like the Arvo Pärt composition. This is the kind of music which is very suitable for me. I like his music, and the words are maybe the second thing for me in this case.” He says it’s the first time he’s heard The Berg Orchestra but maybe he’ll come to listen to more of their concerts, too.

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An important reason for attending concerts is pointed out by Zdeněk, an audience member who is also a composer. “This was ‘an event,’” he explains, “because it is two new premieres. And it’s important to create new things.” He says new, “modern” music is “the main output” of our composers of today “and you see that the church was full,” he points out. In fact, it was nearly a sell-out house with over 400 people in the audience.

“It makes sense,” he says. — oo

– Mary Matz
For a concert excerpt, click on the title below, and then click on it again on the following page.

Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička

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