Magazine article Czech Music

A Marathon of Variegated Music: New Music Marathon 2003

Magazine article Czech Music

A Marathon of Variegated Music: New Music Marathon 2003

Article excerpt

The "newness" of the music is a problematic criterion. The festival's title may give some people the impression that it is a festival of world premieres, which it is not. Nor is it a showcase of new trends. It tries to offer new things in the sense of relatively new things, but also things not yet heard in our part of the world. Even after fourteen years there are still plenty of them. And of course, given that one person is responsible for most of the preparations, it is no wonder that the occasional hitch occurs (although this is no real excuse).

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The festival programme is always a compromise between what the organisers want, what the performers offer and what the sponsors will pay for. There are always items that are potentially contentious. As an example we can take the opening concert, the Czech premiere of Arvo Part's Passio, which was the main draw of the festival and, thanks to the posters, gave it its face. If the piece had been included in the Prague Spring, then the choice would undoubtedly have deserved praise from the critics. In the framework of the Marathon it seems more like "old music", but nonetheless music that has had an important influence on the contemporary form of music. Nor is it irrelevant that Arvo Part was a name that attracted a large audience.

In the field of sound installations and experiments, Paul Panhuysen is also a long-established veteran. His The Long String Installation brought nothing more than what the title promised: four strings strung across the podium and sounded by the author by hand, walking from side to side. This kind of music has been heard from many composers since the sixties (and of course Panhuysen has a major place among them). The view of a man in braces and trousers walking between the strings as if in a blind alley may have provoked sympathy, led to thoughts on the situation of experimental music, or just bored members of the audience, but it didn't lack a certain magic quality.

Following its premiere last year, there was a repeat of a block by Cesti mladosi (Czech Young Guys), i.e. a presentation of the promising among the new faces. Of the four composers presented, the one who clearly stood out was Michal Nejtek, who has already quite successfully established his reputation in this country and abroad and for whom the title "young guy" no longer seems quite appropriate. His piece Different Colours (Made of Tears) had a rock undertow (how otherwise given the inspiration chosen? …

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