Ladislav Bilan, Jr.
Date of EventSaturday, 16. 5. 2020 from 11.00
Expected end of the concert 12.20
- Alexej Gerassimez: Asventuras for Snare Drum
- Anna Ignatowicz Glińska: Toccata
- Jesse Monkman: Rite of Passage
- Danny Raymond: Skyscraper
- Emmanuel Sejourne: Koncert pro marimbu a smyčceConcerto for Marimba and Strings (arr. Ladislav Bilan, Jr.)
- Ladislav Bilan, Jr. - percussion
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Ladislav Bilan (*1994) was born into a musical family. “I began playing percussion instruments at the age of three, initially by imitating my father, who is principal timpanist with the Moravian Philharmonic in Olomouc,” Bilan informs us. He later graduated from the conservatoire in Olomouc, where he was taught by his father.
At the age of thirteen Bilan passed his audition for the Moravian Philharmonic in Olomouc, becoming its youngest ever member in 2009. He has been studying at the Academy of Music in Prague since 2014. That same year he was chosen by Jiří Bělohlávek to perform Concerto for Marimba and Orchestra No. 1 by Ney Rosauro at an open-air concert on Hradčanské square as part of the project “Play with the Czech Philharmonic”. Amid tough competition he was one of six chosen from a total of 120 other talented youngsters.
“I am currently completing my master’s degree and continuing my collaboration with leading Belgian marimbist and teacher Dr Ludwig Albert. I’m also coming to the end of my time in the Czech Philharmonic Orchestral Academy, thanks to which I was able to appear with them in New York’s Carnegie Hall and Vienna’s Musikverein. I’m also putting together a series of solo projects,” he tells us.
Ladislav Bilan will launch his Prague Spring debut, as is his custom, with a solo piece on the snare drum. “In many aspects Asventuras is unlike the majority of other pieces. The player gets to use all sorts of different types of drumsticks and, apart from playing on the drumhead, he also uses the shell and other parts of the drum to convey the musical ideas,” he says.
The programme will also feature Toccata for Marimba by Polish composer Anna Ignatowicz-Glińska. She dedicated this piece to the memory of her father. “The Toccata is extremely difficult, not only in its technical aspects, but also in terms of the requirement to capture and convey the strong emotions embedded in the music and reflected in the work’s dedication. Perhaps this is the reason it is often selected as a compulsory work for the finals of marimba competitions all over the world,” Bilan speculates. “What’s interesting is that Anna Ignatowicz is the only composer in my recital who isn’t a percussion player as well (if I don’t count Astor Piazzolla’s Verano Porteño, which was arranged for us by marimba player Pius Cheung).”
For the piece Rite of Passage Bilan will invite his colleagues from Prague’s Academy of Music onto the podium. Each of them will be in charge of a diverse collection of percussion instruments. “In one section of the piece the score is marked ʽbrutalʼ. I can tell you now that it’s a pretty fitting description,” he says with a laugh.
After this wall of sound Bilan returns to the snare drum – not the classical concert version, but the marching snare which features in the piece Skyscraper by American drum set performer Danny Raymond. “This is one of the technically most challenging pieces for snare drum in existence. And the player also has to get to grips with entirely new ways of holding the drumsticks,” Bilan explains.
There’s an intriguing story attached to Emmanuel Sejourne’s Concerto for Marimba and Strings. “I was studying the piece last year for a performance with the Moravian Philharmonic in Olomouc and I just fell in love with it. The Brno Percussion Festival was just around the corner, and we perform there regularly as students of the Prague Academy. So we had the idea of presenting a version of Concerto for Marimba with percussion ensemble, which Sejourne offers for all his other solo works with orchestra, in addition to a piano version. But this composition was the only one that didn’t have a version for percussion ensemble. Encouraged by my teacher Daniel Mikolášek, I started to work on an arrangement. And, what’s more, the premiere that we gave at the Percussion Festival was attended by the composer himself!”
The concert will be rounded off with a romantic tango by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla entitled Verano Porteño, which was arranged for marimba by Pius Cheung. “I can’t think of a more exciting way to end a recital,” says Bilan. We’ve certainly got a treat in store – a concert pulsating with rhythm and youthful energy.