The International Janáček Festival and Conference, taking place at the University of North Texas Feb. 6-9, will explore the life and work of eminent Czech composer Leoš Janáček (1854-1928). The event, a collaboration between UNT’s College of Music and the Janáček Academy of Music and the Performing Arts in Brno, Czech Republic, will feature eight concerts, a pre-concert lecture series, classroom seminars, a day-long academic conference and conclude with the U.S. premiere of a semi-staged, one-act opera version of Janáček’s song cycle Zápisník zmizelého (The Diary of One Who Disappeared).
Janáček, regarded as one of the greatest Czech composers along with Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák, took inspiration from Moravian folk songs and modernist techniques. He primarily wrote orchestral, chamber and operatic works, and has become one of the most performed opera composers of the 20th century.
“Although Smetana and Dvořák used musical ideas that referenced their country in a nationalist movement, it was Janáček who collected and preserved Moravian folk songs and incorporated them in his classical compositions through his use of modality, pentatonic scales, and modeling vocal parts on the inflections of the Czech language and, in particular, the Moravian dialect,” said Professor of Music Theory Thomas Sovík, who is the festival organizer and Director of Central European Studies & Exchanges in the College of Music.
Musicians, clinicians and Janáček scholars from around the world will convene on the UNT campus for the festival. Distinguished guests from the Czech Republic will include Prof. Miloš Orson Štědroň, principal orchestrator of Zápisník and faculty member at the Prague Conservatory; Prof. Mikuláš Bek, musicologist and Rector of Masaryk University; Prof. Ivo Medek, composer and Rector of the Janáček Academy, in Brno; Prof. Vít Spilka, clarinetist-conductor and head of the Academy’s Department of Music; Prof. Lenka Křupková, head of Musicological Studies at Palacký University, in Olomouc; and Prof. Vít Zouhar, composer and musicologist at Palacký University. The keynote speaker of the academic conference associated with the festival will be Prof. Michael Beckerman, Janáček scholar and head of the Department of Music at New York University.
“In addition to an active student-exchange program with the Janáček Academy, the College of Music has a substantial endowment from the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas to support Czech music here at home, and that endowment has enabled us to not only bring Czech classical and folk musicians to perform here in Texas, but to stage this festival,” Sovík said.
The festival begins with An Evening of Czech Works by Janáček, Dvořák and Suk, performed by the Symphony Orchestra at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, in Winspear Hall. A pre-concert lecture starts at 7 p.m. The program includes one of Janáček’s most performed works, the Sinfonietta, and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 8, and will be conducted by Anshel Brusilow Professor of Conducting David Itkin.
Faculty and student chamber ensembles will perform in the Chamber Music of Janáček at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, in Voertman Hall. The concert will be preceded by a lecture at 4:15 p.m. in Music Building Room 258. Another highlight of the festival will be the Baroque Orchestra and Collegium Singers’ performance of Musica Bohemia: Music of the Czech Baroque at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, in Winspear Hall. Paul Leenhouts and Richard Sparks will conduct the concert, which will also have a pre-concert lecture by Sovík starting at 7 p.m.
The festival will conclude with a concert featuring the University Singers, the A Cappella Choir, and UNT Opera at 8 p.m. Feb. 9 (Saturday). Guest artist Vít Spilka will conduct the performance of Janáček’s Zápisník zmizelého (The Diary of One Who Disappeared); this will be the U.S. premiere of the new fully orchestrated and semi-staged version of the work, originally written as a song cycle for voice and piano. This performance in Denton follows UNT’s world premiere of the orchestrated version in Brno, which was performed over the Thanksgiving holiday – in Czech – by UNT students. A pre-concert lecture by Prof. Miloš Orson Štědroň, who orchestrated the work with his father, Miloš Štědroň, starts at 7 p.m.
Many of the concerts will be live streamed at www.UNTmusiclive.com, making them viewable to audiences worldwide. Additionally, many of the pre-concert lectures and the academic conference will be live streamed at www.ustream.tv/channel/Janacek. Streaming begins 15 minutes prior to the concert. A full live streaming schedule is available at janacek.unt.edu.
Major funding for this festival and conference is being provided by the Czech Educational Foundation of Texas, which was established to support the teaching of Czech language and culture at high school and college levels; the Frank J. and Hermine Hurta Kostohryz Residency in Czech Music and Culture; the Dr. Jim J. and Rose A. Bezdek Endowment Fund Celebrating Czech Music and Culture; the UNT Fine Arts Series; and the UNT College of Music.
The schedule and ticket information are listed below. Purchase tickets online for performances in Winspear Hall at www.theMPAC.com/tickets or by calling the Murchison Box Office at 940-369-7802. For more details, visit janacek.unt.edu.
Janáček Festival Events – Feb. 6-9
9 a.m. February 6 (Wednesday)
Guest Artist: Sára Žalčíková, piano (Janáček Academy); Janáček - Po zarostlém chodníčku (“On an Overgrown Path”) in Recital Hall, Music Building; Free
8 p.m. Feb. 6 (Wednesday)
Symphony Orchestra; An Evening of Czech Works by Janáček, Dvořák and Suk; David Itkin, conductor; Winspear Hall, Murchison Performing Arts Center; $10/$8. Pre-concert lecture, Instrumental Rehearsal Room, Murchison Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m.
5 p.m. Feb. 7 (Thursday)
Composers’ Workshop Performance; Ivo Medek, Alois Piňos, and Miloš Štědroň - Věc Cage (The Cage Affair); Jessica Morel, conductor; Voertman Hall, Music Building; Free
8 p.m. Feb 7 (Thursday)
ISHA Trio; Lucie Rozsnyó, soprano; Kristýna Vaculová, flute; Sára Žalčíková, piano in Voertman Hall, Music Building; Free
11 a.m. Feb. 8 (Friday)
Music Now; Meet the Composers: Ivo Medek, Miloš Orson Štědroň, and Vít Zouhar in Merrill Ellis Intermedia Theater, Music Building; Free
5 p.m. Feb. 8 (Friday)
Faculty and Student Chamber Ensembles; Chamber Music of Janáček in Voertman Hall, Music Building; Free. Pre-concert lecture, Room 258, Music Building at 4:15 p.m.
8 p.m. Feb. 8 (Friday)
Baroque Orchestra and Collegium Singers; Musica Bohemia; Paul Leenhouts and Richard Sparks, conductors in Winspear Hall, Murchison Performing Arts Center; $10/$8. Pre-concert lecture, Instrumental Rehearsal Room, Murchison Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m.
8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Feb. 9 (Saturday)
Leoš Janáček: Life, Work and Contribution; Academic Conference, Recital Hall Room 301, Music Building; Free
8 p.m. Feb. 9 (Saturday)
University Singers, A Cappella Choir and UNT Opera with chamber orchestra; Janáček - Zápisník zmizelého (The Diary of One Who Disappeared); Otče náš (The Lord’s Prayer); Richard Sparks, Jerry McCoy, and Vít Spilka, conductors in Winspear Hall, Murchison Performing Arts Center; $10/$8. Pre-concert lecture, Instrumental Rehearsal Room, Murchison Performing Arts Center at 7 p.m.