We invite ticket holders to a Pre-Concert Talk with composers Olga Neuwirth and Martin Smolka from 6.30 pm.
Czech Radio Vltava will broadcast the concert live from 8 pm.
The first concert programmed for the new Prague Offspring format will begin – naturally – with the music of Composer-in-Residence Olga Neuwirth. “Klangforum Wien will perform two of her works,” says Programme Director Josef Třeštík. “In addition to her composition for piano and CD incidendo/fluido the programme also includes her masterpiece for trumpet and ensemble …miramondo multiplo…” Neuwirth wrote the piece for Swedish trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger, the Vienna Philharmonic and Pierre Boulez, who performed it in its original orchestral version at the Salzburg Festival in 2006. Festival visitors will also hear music by Italian composer Clara Iannotta, whose piece a stir among the stars, a making way constitutes a new addition to the Austrian ensemble’s repertoire. “One of the highlights of the evening will undoubtedly be the world premiere of Angel Steps, written by Martin Smolka as a commission for the Prague Spring,” Třeštík tells us. “The title can be considered on various levels, it has various evocative indicators,” Smolka himself comments on the premiere. “Behind Mníšek you’ll find Malá Svatá Hora (Little Holy Mountain) and, from there, the road used to form a kind of natural flight of steps to the village of Voznice – fifty metres along the flat, then fifty metres down the hill, and so on, about five times in all. And this road was known as Angel Steps. The title also conveys something tangible, and you can hear the whirring and wailing of a Škoda MB loaded down with stuff. Childhood, parents, the Sixties and Seventies with all their whackiness. And, amid that atheistic wretchedness, were the Angel Steps of Little Holy Mountain.”
Klangforum Wien was established by composer and conductor Beat Furrer in 1985, since which time the ensemble has fundamentally influenced the contemporary music scene. It works closely with some of the world’s most distinguished composers and, through its commissions, it supports the genesis of a series of new works. Over the last thirty-five years or more, Klangforum Wien has become one of the most respected world ensembles specialising in contemporary music and has expanded into an important institution incorporating a variety of activities, from its own magnanimous projects and its involvement in what are often full-length multimedia works, to various educational ventures. The ensemble’s recording catalogue contains more than seventy CDs, and they have premiered over five hundred new compositions, including works that are now considered iconic, such as in vain by Georg Friedrich Haas or the opera Lost Highway by Olga Neuwirth. Klangforum Wien is regularly invited to principal international festivals and concert venues in Europe, the United States and Japan, they have won numerous awards, and they collaborate with first-rate conductors. Today Klangforum Wien comprises 24 musicians from ten different countries. Highlights of their current season include performances at Wiener Festwochen, Acht Brücken and ManiFeste in Paris. The ensemble appeared at the Prague Spring in 2018, when they presented works by Enno Poppe and Bernhard Lang and also gave the world premiere of a new composition by Luboš Mrkvička commissioned by the festival.
Bas Wiegers has been Principal Guest Conductor of Klangforum Wien since 2018. After studying in Amsterdam and Freiburg he began a successful career as a violinist specialising in early music. In 2009 he was awarded a conducting scholarship from the Kersjes Foundation and he began to devote himself entirely to conducting, working as an assistant to Mariss Jansons and Susanna Mälkki at the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. In the Netherlands he works with such orchestras as Residentie Orkest, the Netherlands Philharmonic and the Rotterdam Philharmonic. He has conducted the finest contemporary music ensembles and orchestras, such as Ensemble Modern, Ensemble Musikfabrik, the Asko|Schönberg ensemble, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart and the WDR Symphony Orchestra. He also appears regularly on the programmes of important festivals – Wien Modern, Holland Festival, November Music, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, London’s Almeida Festival, the Aldeburgh Festival and Acht Brücken. As an opera conductor he has headed productions of Così fan tutte, Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, the opera An Ocean of Rain by Yannis Kyriakides, and Poulenc’s operas Les mamelles de Tirésias and La voix humaine. Bas Wiegers is highly regarded by some of the world’s major composers, and is approached for collaboration by the likes of Louis Andriessen, George Benjamin, Pierluigi Billone, Helmut Lachenmann, Rebecca Saunders and Georg Friedrich Haas. In 2019 he conducted the premiere of the revised version of Haas’s successful opera Koma at Stadttheater Klagenfurt. “After the premiere, Haas could only kneel down to thank conductor Bas Wiegers for such a remarkable performance,” Der Standard’s Michael Cerha wrote at the time.
Born in Graz, Austria, Olga Neuwirth (1968) has been a central figure on the international contemporary music scene since the beginning of the 1990s, when two of her mini-operas were staged at the Wiener Festwochen.
Martin Smolka (1959) is one of the Czech Republic’s most noteworthy contemporary composers and he is also one of the most established artists on the international scene. He studied at Prague’s Academy of Music and also privately with Marek Kopelent. He co-headed the Prague-based Agon ensemble in the years 1985–1998.
Clara Iannotta (1983) is regarded as one of the most distinctive Italian artists on the current scene. Her works are commissioned and performed by the finest ensembles and orchestras specialising in contemporary music, such as Quatuor Diotima, Ensemble Intercontemporain, JACK, the Munich Chamber Orchestra and the WDR Symphony Orchestra. Born in Rome, she studied in Milan, at the Paris Conservatoire, IRCAM and Harvard University, and her teachers have included Alessandro Solbiati, Frédéric Durieux, and Chaya Czernowin. She currently lives in Berlin and she is also Artistic Director of the international contemporary music festival Die Bludenzer Tage zeitgemäßer Musik. In 2020 the prestigious label Wergo released a CD featuring her oeuvre for string quartet. The acoustically opulent composition for large ensemble a stir among the stars, a making way was commissioned by Klangforum Wien. The premiere was to have been held in Vienna’s Konzerthaus in the spring of 2020, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it took place in September of that year, hosted by the Klangspuren Schwaz festival in Innsbruck.
The Prague Spring has devised a new format dedicated to contemporary music. Over a period of two days, the DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Holešovice will come alive with the latest from the contemporary international and domestic scene.