The Barbers of … Nuberg

Opus Osm

František Chaloupka, composer of The Book of Earth, displays a hairy creation.

Just as a hairdresser plays with your hair to create a stunning new style, so composers play with ideas to create something new.

And again this year the Berg Orchestra is preparing a kind of Composer’s Fashion Week, strutting out the new, original compositions of seven young composers, all performed this past season by The Berg. And the public gets to vote for its favorite.

The annual event is known as The Nuberg Competition, and its activities are going on now through mid-February, wrapping up with performance of the winner’s entry, in a live concert in March, according to Eva Kesslová, Berg spokesperson.

Here are some highlights:

Tomorrow (Jan 25) from 5 pm on, the Berg hosts a Night Music Marathon at Galerie Prádelna Bohnice, a former laundry. Debates and discussions with some of the composers, workshops, presentations, and more are planned in this unheated, historic former laundry building.

Public as well as professional voting for winners of the annual Nuberg Competition is running now. You can take part by listening to and voting for all seven compositions online, through Feb 11.

But if that technology is too new for you, why not vote at the Main Branch of the Public Library? Sit back and relax under an old-fashioned, 1950s hood hairdryer. These are the contraptions that your granny sat under as her perm dried, and she gossiped or read magazines to pass the time. Today, however, your time under the dryer hood is much more enjoyable: The seven contending compositions (without the heat) are piped in to small speakers near your ears.

Opus Osm

Composer Jan Dušek's hair styling capabilities ...

And instead of reading old movie magazines, you can examine the large-format photographs of the composers as hair stylists, in the exhibition by Dragan Stojčevski and Johana Kratochvílová. All this (titled “Hudební Helmy” in Czech) takes place now through Jan 31 at the Main Branch of the Municipal Library of Prague.

Further, the composers promise to reveal the tactics behind their creations at public discussions: Slavomír Hořínka, Jan Šikl, and Vojtěch Esterle will appear Thurs, Jan 31 at the Public Library’s Main branch; Jan Dušek, Jan Trojan, and Petr Wajsar go head to head to head Thurs, Feb 2 at the theatre Divadlo Bez Zábradlí.

The winners will be announced at a press conference Thurs, Feb 21, and the victorious composition will be performed by The Berg live in concert Wed, Mar 13.

The composers and their entries in this year’s Nuberg competition are:
František Chaloupka, The Book of Earth; Slavomír Hořínka, Magnificat; Jan Šikl, On the Meaning of Things (O Smyslu Věcí); Vojtěch Esterle, Three Canons for String Orchestra (Tři Kánony pro Smyčcový Orchestr).

Also: Jan Dušek, East and West (Ost und West); Petr Wajsar, Eight Sentences on Fans (8 Vět na Vějíře); and Jan Trojan, _rezonance [remix]. — oo

– Mary Matz

Photo Credits: Johana Kratochvílová

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