Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ostrava Days of New Music

by Lukáš Olejník

Ostrava Days of New Music is a three week long exposition of contemporary classical music that takes place biannually in the city of Ostrava, The Czech Republic. The last season (2013) ran from August 12 to August 31, 2013.  The event is considered to be one of the largest of its type in the world. 

Ostrava Days exposition is organized by the Ostrava Center for New Music  (OCNM), an organization founded in 2000 by a Czech composer living in New York Petr Kotík. The institution was established solely for the purpose of organizing Ostrava Days, an event that consists of two parts - summer institute and festival. 

The mission of the institute as well as of the festival is described by its founded Petr Kotík as follows. Ostrava Days "give composers, musicians and musicologists an opportunity to work with leading representatives of contemporary music". It is " a working and learning environment focused on orchestral composition". 

The exposition regularly lasts for three weeks August. Two weeks  are devoted to the institute which events are open to official participants only. Over the course of these two weeks the participating composers, musicians and musicologists interact with each other by means of  attending a number of lectures, seminars, and presentations. They also compose and practice pieces to be presented during the final week of the forum.  The exposition opens to the public during its third week's festival. The festival offers a large number of concerts which programs selected compositions by resident students, lectors, guests, and others. An American music publicist Frank Kuznik on his blog named Cultured Cleveland described Ostrava Days as "gathering of students, players and composers modeled after Darmstadt" (Kuznik). 

Attendance of the institute as well as the festival is international and in the past included artists from Europe, Norths and South America, Asia and Australia. Students are chosen based on evaluation of no more than three scores and audio samples submitted to the assembly of lectors for each given year.  Approximately 35 students are accepted for a season. 

Resident orchestras and ensembles of Ostrava Days are Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra (Ostrava), Ostravská banda (international chamber ensemble), Canticum Ostrava (choir), and Krulik Quartet (string quartet). 

The dramaturgy of the festival strives to achieve an originality and dissociation from an usual and a mainstream type of programing often observed in the program brochures of other major festivals of classical music in The Czech Republic. Classics of new music are systematically offered along the side of numerous premieres of new works. Festival programs has included major works by composers such as: Morton Feldman, John Cage, Earle Brown, Luigi Nono, Iannis Xenakis, Karlheinz Stockhausen, György Ligeti, Edgard Varese, Galina Ustwolskaja, Christian Wolff, Alvin Lucier, Petr Kotík, Martin Smolka, Phil Niblock, Elliot Sharp, Bernard Lang, Rebecca Sauders, Kaija Saariaho, and many others. 

All the event of the Ostrava Days exposition take place in these locations in the city of Ostrava, The Czech Republic: Philharmonic Hall of the City of Ostrava, Janáček Conservatory Ostrava, Multifunctional Auditorium GONG, National Moravian-Silesian Theatre, Coal Mine Michal, St. Wenceslas Church, Parník Club, Gallery of Fine Arts in Ostrava. 

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