Young Careers: Hana Hrachovinová
Opus Osm continues our series of articles on ‘Young Careers’ – Czech performers under the age of approximately 30, who are on the pathway to brilliant careers. Here we take a look at a promising young harpist.
Opus Osm Minutka (″Little Minute″)
5 Quick Questions for Hana Hrachovinová
1What did you learn in Paris that you probably wouldn’t have if you had continued straight on for your Master’s degree at HAMU?
– studied at a music gymnazium and then directly earned her BA and MA degrees at The Academy of Music
– performs a wide repertoire, but is gravitating towards contemporary music
– also performs with the new, Topos Kolektiv improvisation ensemble (appearing in New York Nov 17-24)
– teaches at the J.B. Foerster Elementary Arts School, Jičín and at the Kvapvil Elementary Arts School, Brno
– performs with the National Theatre, Brno starting in December.
My opinion is the study abroad experience should be a part of an academic education. I believe that the crucial experience you get is mainly from the mere fact of living on your own in a foreign country, exploring a different way of living, and another system of education and teaching.
Every teacher has different methods and opinions and, not judging if they are better or worse, it always brings a new point of view which is enriching.
… In Paris, they consider playing the harp not one but more disciplines – classical repertoire, contemporary repertoire, orchestral parts, chamber music, sight reading, figured bass (voluntary), etc. It means that there are not only special lessons for each of these but even different teachers for many of them.
2 It seems you may be specializing in modern and contemporary repertoire and premieres, as opposed to classical music. Is that unusual for a harpist? Why have you chosen this direction?
I feel like it is easier to play contemporary music than the previous periods (though many harpists or musicians in general think the contrary). I don’t mean easier in the sense that if you make a mistake or change something in the composition, no one can tell … that is pleasant too, but it isn’t my goal!
Contemporary musical language is just more comprehensible to me; neutral, like your mother tongue seems natural and neutral to you, but all the other languages have their own special mentality and accent, something you have to adapt to. So this is why I usually feel the most comfortable playing contemporary music. But I also like the romantic era and Bach a lot.
Listen to this excerpt from Czech composer Lukáš Matoušek’s Biblical Sonata, from Hana Hrachovinová’s concert in May:
3 What would you like to say about your studies with Jana Boušková?
I think that we, young harpists from Prague, often aren’t really aware of what chance we actually have … some people don’t realize that it isn’t usual or granted for everyone to have an easily accessible possibility of studying with one of the world’s best harpists.
I’ve realized many times that even the mere listening to Jana Boušková playing and watching her gives me a lot of information and inspiration about how to play. Also the support and the strong belief that I can succeed at something difficult made me progress a lot.
4 Why did you decide to start teaching at a Jičín elementary school specializing in music?
I started to teach there in the middle of the [previous] school year, four girls aged from 12 to 21. It was hard work but I decided to continue this year, as the atmosphere in the music school is extremely friendly and I am really willing to gain experience in the field of teaching.
Another excerpt from Mr Matoušek’s Biblical Sonata, with medieval isorhythm – a different melody vs different rhythm in the lower voice:
5 What are your plans for the future?
I’ve just received my MA diploma and I signed a contract with the National Theater in Brno for the post of second harpist. Last year, I passed the audition but ended up second, missing by only 0.05 points to the first place. I didn’t get the post but I could at least calmly finish my studies.
Now the situation has changed and my audition is still valid. I shall start working for the theatre in December. Along with this I will also teach in a music school in Brno, still continuing in Jičín and adding one private student to all this.
I am guessing it will be quite a busy year!
Hana Hrachovinová performs in Germany Dec 4-5; and at the International Festival of Concert Melodrama (music with spoken word) Dec 13 at the Lichtenstein Palace. With the Topos Kolektiv improvisational site-specific ensemble, she will appear at the New York City Czech Center Nov 17 and 24, and in two other concerts in that city.
–Mary Matz, Opus Osm editor
Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička