Magazine article Czech Music

Forfest Puts the Emphasis on the Individual Testimony of the Composer

Magazine article Czech Music

Forfest Puts the Emphasis on the Individual Testimony of the Composer

Article excerpt

Zdenka and Viclav Vaculovic are the husband and wife team that has headed the Forfest's organisational committee since the festival's birth fourteen years ago. The future paths that might be taken not just by the Forfest but by contemporary music in general in the future are the subject of this interview.

What do you see as the greatest success of this year's Forfest? And what didn't work so well, what caused you problems?

It would probably be impossible to imagine a festival of contemporary art without problems, Usually there are so many that we don't even want to talk about them ... So I prefer to talk about the good sides, and the performance of Zemek's 2nd Symphony "the Passion "was--you could say--a satisfaction not just for the composer but for us as well. Of course, with such a monumental work, which in its uncut form represents ninety minutes of music for large orchestra, choir and soloists, you could hardly expect there to be no problems at all putting it on, but all the performers and listeners felt that it was a great idea, and that's no small achievement.

Forfest is characterised as a festival of contemporary art with a spiritual focus. But from a certain perspective any kind of artistic work is spiritual, if it springs up from the spirit of the author ... How would you define spirituality in art and what are your criteria, from this point of view, for the choice of works for the festival?

You're right. Every creation arising from the spirit can be considered spiritual, but contemporary art is dominated by anything but the spirit. Of course we don't want to play at being referees who "unerringly" separate the wheat from the chaff. To put it a little frivolously, our activities might be better characterised by paraphrasing the famous voice crying in the wilderness "Prepare yea way for an art that has not yet lost content and meaning". It is in this spirit that we praise and encourage every author who doesn't want to contribute to the general devastation of human values. But back to your question: naturally the problem has many different levels, and that is why we've started a colloquium, which every two years provides space for the opinions and visions of leading musicologists and art historians from this country and abroad. There is no answer to your question that would fit into one paragraph in a magazine ...

Although the Forfest also involves visual art and poetry, it remains above all a music festival. Do you intend to carry on giving priority to the music element, or will you be trying to give the other fields of the arts a more balanced share in the event?

Today it's also a financial question, since a good exhibition, with good advertising, costs at least 2-300 000 crowns. Also taking into account the well-known inflexibility of fine arts funds and the "caution" of curators, it seems to us that the music festival model is really more feasible for the moment. Internationally speaking, the music world is linking up much faster, all kinds of things are discussed, and the position of the composer isn't determined by the incredible caste system that prevails in the art world especially in this country. On the other hand, in the history of art the linking-up of different disciplines

has always been enriching for all of them, and that is a direction we want to move in ....

Unlike last year, this year there was no opera. Was its replacement this year with a play deliberate or is it difficult to find a good quality opera production?

The Forfest is first and foremost a composers' festival. In recent years the operas Coronide by Vit Zouhar and Endymio by Tomas Hanzlik have appeared on the programme as particular kinds of innovative development in music. Similarly, this year's "deviation" into spoken drama was a decision based on the fact that the play in question had music by Martin Dohnal. Our primary concern was to follow the line of the middle generation of Czech composers. …

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