Young Talents at Prague Spring Festival – Live from HAMU
This concert will bring together four striking talents from the upcoming generation of Czech musicians – 17-year-old pianist Jan Čmejla, 17-year-old violinist Eduard Kollert, 26-year-old percussionist Ladislav Bilan Jr. and 27-year-old clarinetist Anna Paulová.
Date of EventFriday, 22. 5. 2020 from 20.00
- Alexej Gerassimez: Asventuras for Snare Drum
- Anna Ignatowicz Glińska: Toccata
- Fryderyk Chopin: Nokturno cis moll
- Fryderyk Chopin: Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60
- Sergej Prokofjev: Piano Sonata No. 7 in B flat major Op. 83 “Stalingrad”
- Bruno Mantovani: Bug for Solo Clarinet
- Paul Hindemith: Ludus minor for Clarinet and Violoncello
- Lukáš Hurník: Martirium (world premiere)
- Franz Waxman: Carmen Fantasy
- Ladislav Bilan, Jr. - percussion
- Jan Čmejla - piano
- Anna Paulová - clarinet
- Michal Kaňka - violoncello
- Eduard Kollert - violin
- Jiří Kollert - piano
- Ondřej Havelka - host
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Ladislav Bilan, Jr.
Ladislav Bilan, Jr. (*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”.
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.
Jan Čmejla (*2003) is one of the up-and-coming hopes of the Czech piano school. He has played the piano since he was six, supplementing this with the study of composition two years later. He received his first musical education at the Ilja Hurník Children’s Art School and at the Grammar and Music School of the Capital City of Prague under the guidance of Taťána Vejvodová and Lukáš Klánský. In 2018 he enrolled at the Prague Conservatoire to study the piano in the class of Eva Boguniová.
Jan has already acquired a remarkable number of triumphs in music contests, such as the international Virtuosi per musica di pianoforte in Ústí nad Labem (2013, 2018), Chopin for the Youngest (2015), the Novák International Piano Competition (2015), the Peter Toperczer International Piano Competition in Košice (2017; Second Prize), the Beethoven Festival Teplice (2018), and Concertino Praga (Overall Winner of 2019). He is a laureate of the prestigious Golden Nut Award (2013), which highlights the most talented children in the Czech Republic, and the Kern Foundation Prize, which is held under the auspices of the excellent Russian pianist Olga Kern.
The nocturnes of Fryderyk Chopin are some of the most exquisite works in the world piano repertoire. The composer wrote them practically his whole life, producing twenty-one of them during the period 1827–1846. Chopin wrote Nocturne in C sharp minor Op. posth. at the age of twenty and dedicated it to his musically gifted sister Ludwika. The outer parts of this piece convey typical Chopinesque melancholy, while in the middle section the composer allows himself a faint smile, even finding scope for a few bars of light, witty scherzando.
Chopin’s Barcarolle in F sharp major Op. 60 is one of the best-loved works in the piano repertoire. Its lyric, sweet melodies flow gently and serenely above the pleasantly lilting barcarola accompaniment, inviting listeners to daydream for a while.
Sergei Prokofiev’s Sonata No. 7, sometimes called “Stalingrad”, stands in stark contrast to the previous numbers. “I find it incredible how Prokofiev was able to move piano music to a completely different level. The first movement is very restless and dark – the very first bars are followed by audible shots and shouts of war. The second movement begins with a delightful melody, which gradually transforms into pain and martial tragedy full of despair, fear, and the endless march of the enemy. The third movement, which will be performed at this concert, brings a sudden turn and triumphantly explosive finale,” Čmejla describes.
Anna Paulová (*1993) started taking clarinet lessons when she was eleven. “I had to muster all my strength just to hold it in my hands” she said in an interview for Harmonie in September 2015. “Initially, I saw the clarinet as a very masculine instrument but then I heard Ludmila Peterková and Sharon Kam play and their music truly fascinated me… Nowadays, I cannot imagine living without the clarinet at all.” She continued her studies at the Prague Conservatoire learning from Milan Polák and Ludmila Peterková. Later, she enrolled to the Academy of Music in Prague as a member of the class lead by Jiří Hlaváč and Vlastimil Mareš. Already during her conservatoire studies, she attracted the attention of the public, however the true breakthrough came with her 2nd prize in the Prague Spring International Music Competition in 2015. She is amongst the winners of the “Play with the Czech Philharmonic” and – as such – performed as a soloist with the Czech Philharmonic conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek in June 2014. In 2019, she made it to the semifinals of one of the largest global competitions, the ARD International Music Competition in Munich.
Her performance will open with a piece going by the humorous title of Bug, a highly virtuosic work for solo clarinet by leading contemporary French composer Bruno Mantovani. The piece is a musical metaphor for the much-hyped collapse of computers and digital networks on 31 December 1999.
Paul Hindemith ranks among leading European composers. He left to posterity an extensive body of often provocative compositions which earned him, still before the Second World War, attacks by petty bourgeois public and by the Nazis. It may come as somewhat surprising then that his music is by and large tonal – while Hindemith developed a thoroughly unique compositional style, he never abandoned tonality. Apart from his career as a composer, he was also active as a conductor and professor of composition, as well as being an excellent violinist and viola player. An amateur clarinetist, he continued to write music for this instrument all through his lifetime. Five-part cycle for clarinet and cello entitled Ludus minor, of 1944, features a dialogue, at once expressive and playful, between two equal partners. The cello part will be performed by Michal Kaňka.
Like in the case of Ladislav Bilan, Jr. family roots played a key role in Eduard Kollert’s (*2002) choice of profession. He was born into a family of musicians – his grandfather is a pianist and composer, his father a pianist. His own point of initiation came when he heard his father accompany the violinist Josef Suk. Not quite seven years of age Eduard began studying the violin at music school in Prague, while his parents taught him the piano. Within a mere two years he was performing to huge acclaim as a soloist with the PKF – Prague Philharmonia; for his programme he chose one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s violin concertos and a piano concerto by Ludwig van Beethoven, playing both during a single concert. This led to an invitation by the Spanish royal family to perform at El Pardo Palace in Madrid, where he excelled with a solo programme for violin and piano. The following day the concert organisers introduced him to Zakhar Bron, who invited him to attend the new Zakhar Bron Academy in the Swiss town of Interlaken. Kollert has been studying with Bron since that time and he is also in his second year at the Reina Sofía School of Music in Madrid. His most important competition successes to date include the title of laureate at various international events – the Young Virtuosos held in Bulgaria, the “Nutcracker” contest in Russia, and the Wieniawski-Lipinski competition in Ljubljana (2018). Eduard plays on a Carlo Testore instrument crafted in 1690, kindly loaned to him by a private sponsor.
The piece Martirium, inspired by the music of Bohuslav Martinů, was written in 2019 as a commission from Jiří and Eduard Kollert, to whom it is also dedicated. The work sees its world premiere at this concert. “I came to Martinů quite late on in life as a listener, but I had always loved his Polka in A major as a child. In my opinion, that ostinato in the bass with the syncopated movement above it is one of the most successful forays of jazz elements into classical music. When Jiří Kollert and his son Eduard approached me with a request for a work related to Bohuslav Martinů, I knew immediately which of his themes I would choose,” says Lukáš Hurník, describing the genesis of his composition. The monothematic work brings out all aspects of Martinů’s Polka, and of “the essential Juliette chordal connection”. The title is a play on words referring also to the inner angst of the sensitive artist “whose freedom abroad was redeemed by the suffering of his loved ones who remained in Europe during the war,” adds Hurník.
The concert will be concluded with Waxman’s Carmen Fantasie. “I have played it many years and many times because I love it and the audience adores it as well,” describes Eduard Kollert. German-American composer of Jewish descent Franz Waxman became famous particularly for his film music. He was nominated for Academy Awards for his film scores on several occasions, including his work for the film Humoresque (1946), the story of a young violinist, which featured his Carmen Fantasie. Prompted by celebrated violinist Jascha Heifetz, the composer revised the work, expanding it into an independent concert piece originally intended to be played with an orchestral accompaniment, although it is usually performed in a version with piano.