Friday, June 8, 2012: The Perfect Line-Up (2)

Kuhn Children's Choir

The Kuhn Children's Choir performed several enchanting numbers by Ilja Hurník.

Part 2: The Perfect Lineup – Ilja Hurník, The Seasoned Composer

A work by young composer Lukáš Sommer (28) teamed up with a work by seasoned composer Ilja Hurník (soon to be 90) at a Prague Spring concert by the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice May 28 (see Opus Osm, June 7, 2012). But that wasn’t the only Prague Spring concert in which Mr Hurník played a role.

A few days after his Folding Picture Book was performed, Mr Hurník’s Slezské Písničky (Songs from the Slezská Brána Region [North Moravia]) was sung by the Kűhn Children’s Choir, conducted by Jiří Chvála.

These two pieces, although each in a different concert, also made a kind of perfect line-up, appealing to both audiences’ imagination and delight with the musical pictures they create.

Ilja Hurnik

Ilja Hurník

His Leporelo (Folding Picture Book), performed earlier by the symphony, pulls the audience into the random discovery of a little folding book, an artifact of every Czech child, which mixes illustrations with nursery rhymes and song lyrics. As pages of a little folding book, the composition unravels a series of little musical miniatures, containing many themes and tunes even the folk song Travička Zelená. It’s hard to believe that Mr.Hurník wrote this lively, imaginative composition only five years ago.

Then at the vocal concert, Mr Hurník took the audience on a musical journey through the back roads of the colorful North Moravia Region, with a collection of eight short a cappella pieces for children’s choir. They include the very folk-sy Na Pastvě (To the Pasture) with syllables such as “Jo, Jo, Ho!,” the calming, quiet V Kolaji Voda (The Water Wheel), and a lively, jingly piece reminiscent of a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh, titled Chodzim Po Dzedzině (When I Go to Dzedzin). Aj Ta Naša Maryjana (Oh! That’s Our Mary Jane) displays the slowing down and rapidly speeding up rhythms of a spinning wheel.

Mr Hurník will celebrate his 90th birthday Nov 25, and took his well-deserved bows to the audience’s warm applause at both concerts. It was a nice reminder of his musical presence on the Czech scene, where he has over the years made his mark as a composer of serious music, musicologist, popularizer of folk culture, and teacher. — oo

– Zuzana Sklenková, and Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Top: Prague Spring International Music Festival 2012; bottom: James Mensch

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