The second concert planned for the new Prague Offspring format will offer a total of five world premieres. Jakub Rataj, Lucie Vítková, Adrián Demoč, Konstantin Heuer and Ian Mikyska were commissioned by the festival to each write a short new composition. “One of the aims of the project is to bring the domestic and international contemporary music scenes closer together,” explains Programme Director Josef Třeštík, “to mediate contact between the best and most promising composers and world-class ensembles, in this case Klangforum Wien. We would be delighted if this collaboration were to continue into the future,” he adds. The concert will be framed by the music of Composer-in-Residence Olga Neuwirth, whose impressive Lost Highway Suite for six instrumental soloists, live electronics and large ensemble from the opera based on David Lynch’s film will round off the evening. Moreover, thanks to a special performance, the audience will experience what it’s like to sit in a concert hall that has become a musical instrument itself. This is precisely how the DOX+ hall – the concert venue – was conceived by its architect Petr Hájek.
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.
Petr Hájek (1970) holds the Architect of the Year award for 2018 and is the designer behind the DOX+ complex, where Prague Offspring events are held. He established the Laboratory of Experimental Architecture in 2010, he has headed the design studio at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava since 2012, and in 2016 he was appointed professor of the Faculty of Architecture at the Czech Technical University in Prague. He is the author of the concept Galegion, a research project that examines new methods of urban design. The project also features an acoustic vision of the architectural design for a utopian city entitled 15 minutes and 15 seconds in Galegion City. Here the DOX+ concert hall itself, conceived by Hájek as a musical instrument with the audience inside it, will come alive with sound via the building’s construction rods, handled by performers Martin Janíček and Filip Jakš.
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.