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Andrés Amado and Linda O’Brien

Among the Maya of Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico, the word may denote instrument ensembles, musical genres of probable Spanish origin, or particular music events. As a string ensemble it may include one or more three- or four-string rabels or violins, some rudely constructed of half a calabash, or of wood with deerskin sides, and played with loose horsehair bows; one or more six-string guitars or five-string ...

Article

Claire Levy

(b Plovdiv, 19 Dec 1937). Bulgarian composer, pianist, conductor, arranger, and bandleader. He was internationally acknowledged for his innovative ideas, cross-cultural experiments, and contribution to the concept of fusion and free improvisation. Classically trained at the Bulgarian State Conservatory (1955–60) under Pancho Vladigerov (composition) and Andrey Stoyanov (piano), he is the author of numerous compositions in styles and genres including jazz, pop, symphony, chamber, film, and theatrical music. He conducted the Radio and Television Big Band in Sofia (1962–6) and led his own avant-garde quartet, Jazz Focus’65 (1965–8), which won the Critic’s Prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967. In 1970 he left Bulgaria for political reasons and moved to the USA where he joined the Don Ellis Orchestra (1971–8), and later collaborated with the classical/jazz quartet Free Flight. He also played with outstanding jazz musicians including Art Pepper, Billy Cobham, and Dave Holland, among many others....

Article

Ian Mikyska

Czech string quartet, founded 1999. Its line-up has remained constant since its foundation: David Pokorný and Vladimír Klánský on violins, Vladimír Kroupa on viola, and Vít Petrášek on cello. Although classical repertoire remains central to their professional lives, the Epoque Quartet is remarkable for the breadth and professionalism of its ‘crossover’ work. The quartet has performed with the leading artists of Czech popular music, arranged world music from various traditions (most recently with the clarinettist Irvin Venyš for their CD Irvin_Epoque), and given the premières of over 80 pieces, the style of which ranges from rock- and jazz-influenced music to contemporary art music, mostly by Czech composers including Jan Kučera, Petr Wajsar, Jan Dušek, Gabriela Vermelho, and others.

Their open-mindedness and long-standing interest in various musical fields allows them to perform stylistically in a way classically-trained ensembles often find problematic, particularly in terms of rhythm, feeling, and energy when performing jazz- and rock-influenced repertoire....

Article

Ian Mikyska

Czech chamber orchestra, founded in 1995 by Peter Vrábel. A leading large ensemble for contemporary music in the Czech Republic, the Berg Orchestra has commissioned over 100 new pieces, as well as finding a wide and diverse audience through innovative programming and inter-arts crossover projects.

The orchestra has been crucial in supporting younger generations of Czech composers, both through regular commissions and the NUBERG composition competition. Concerts often take place in unusual venues, such as a cave on the Slovak-Hungarian border, a vacant water cleaning plant, and the interior of the Vítkov National Monument. The list of collaborations the orchestra has undertaken over the years is remarkable, and includes directors such as Heiner Goebbels, Ondřej Havelka, and Jiří Adámek, the set designers Dragan Stojčevski and Antonín Šilar, the dance companies 420PEOPLE, Spitfire Company, and DekkaDancers, institutions like the National Gallery, National Theater, Czech Radio and Television, and a number of festivals both at home and abroad....

Article

Ian Mikyska

Czech ensemble for contemporary music. It was founded in 2008 by the French conductor Michel Swierczewski, under the Prague Philharmonic. Since 2009, Prague Modern has operated independently as a civic association with Michel Swierczewski as chief conductor from 2009 to 2011. Marián Lejava became chief conductor in 2013, with Pascal Gallois taking the role of Principal Guest Conductor in 2015.

They have performed at numerous festivals including Prague Spring, Ostrava Days of New Music, Contempuls, and MusicOlomouc in the Czech Republic, and Musica Strasbourg, Dartington Summer Festival, Festival de musique de Besancon Franché Comte, Poznań Music Spring, and Cafe Budapest Fest abroad. They are the resident ensemble for the concert series Krása dneška (‘Beauty of Today’) and have produced numerous recordings; their disc of Dai Fujikura’s works conducted by Pascal Gallois received the Coup de couer of the Academié Charles Cros.

They have premiered pieces by composers such as Miroslav Srnka, František Chaloupka, Marián Lejava, Francois Sarhan, Peter Koeszeghy, Mika Pelo, and Elia Koussa, and have also collaborated across genres, notably with the filmmaker Jan Švankmajer, the visual artist Kateřina Vincourová, the photographer Markéta Othová, and the actresses Fanny Ardant and Anne Bennent....

Article

Ian Mikyska

Czech string quartet. Founded in 2005 by the violinist David Danel, with the violinist Aki Kuroshima, the violist Daniel Trgina, and the cellist Balázs Adorján. In 2009 Ondřej Martinovský took over the viola seat, and in 2012, Roman Hranička joined the quartet as the second violinist. The quartet’s members are also colleagues in the Prague Philharmonic.

Fama regularly performs at all the major festivals for contemporary music in the Czech Republic, including Contempuls, Prague Spring, Ostrava Days, Exposition of New Music Brno, and MusicOlomouc. The quartet is also a regular fixture of several concert series, such as the Prague Philharmonic’s series Krása dneška (‘The Beauty of Today’) – with which they have been closely involved since the series began in 2004 – and, since 2011, at concerts hosted by the Umělecká beseda.

Fama has also toured internationally in Western and Eastern Europe, the US, Turkey, Israel, and elsewhere, and their artistic activities are closely linked to educational work, which includes workshops (at conservatories in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Turkey, Romania, etc.) and performances of pieces by students and composers of younger generations (at the Ostrava Days Festival and ISCM World New Music Days Košice, and in Bratislava and Vienna)....

Article

Ian Mikyska

Composers’ collective and ensemble founded in Prague in 2002. Over the years, the organizing team has included a number of composers and instrumentalists, with the remaining core today being Tomáš Pálka[1], Michaela Plachká, and Ondřej Štochl[2].

Their programming includes canonical composers of the 20th century as well as younger artists. They hold a call for scores each year, and have presented a number of works by Czech composers of older generations (kopelent, slavický, smolka). Despite a general tendency towards quiet and contemplative aesthetics, they have also performed music by composers of the so-called New Complexity and from more standard post-avant-garde traditions, always with a view to creating a dynamic and compact programme.

Konvergence often collaborates with other ensembles on combined programmes with an unusually well thought out dramaturgy. Over the years, they have worked with ensembles such as Platypus, Adapter, the Fama Quartet, le concert impromptu, the Isang Yun Trio, and the Quasars Ensemble....

Article

Ian Mikyska

(b Olomouc, 3 May 1967). Czech violinist. Raised in a musical family, she studied at the People’s School of Art in Opava with Marcela Kuvíková, then at the Ostrava Conservatory with Vítězslav Kuzník and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (AMU) with the professors Jiří Vlach, Jiří Novák, and Ivan Štraus. She also took part in master classes with Josef Gingold in Greensboro, NC and with Wolfgang Marschner in Weimar. In 1990 she received a scholarship to the International Menuhin Music Academy in Gstaad, Switzerland, where she studied with Alberto Lysy.

In 1997, she became a laureate of the Prague Spring International Violin Competition. She has also received the Gideon Klein Prize, the Bärenreiter Prize, the Supraphon Prize, the Prize of the City of Prague, and the Prague Spring Foundation Prize. In 2005 she represented the Czech Republic at the World Exhibition in Aichi, Japan, together with the Prague Philharmonic....

Article

Laura Maes and Troy Rogers

[M&M Robot Orchestra]

Name of an ensemble of acoustic automatons invented and constructed since 1990 by Godfried-Willem Raes (b Ghent, 3 Jan 1952). The Logos Foundation, a contemporary music centre located in Ghent that was founded by Raes in 1968, is home to the more than 45 automatons that comprise the ensemble. It includes organ-like instruments, monophonic wind instruments, string instruments, percussion instruments, and noise generators. Most are automations of existing instruments, and many offer wider possibilities than their manual equivalents. Raes’s intention was not to replace performers, but to expand musical possibilities with machines that can outperform humans in speed, dynamic control, and a number of simultaneously sounding notes. Most of the instruments are tuned to 12-tone equal temperament, although some are tuned to equal tempered quartertones. The sirens robot and all the monophonic wind instruments can be tuned with 0.78125-cent precision and can thus be used with nearly any tuning system....

Article

Stephen Zdzinski

An American fellowship-based professional training orchestra founded in 1987 in Miami Beach, Florida. Under the artistic direction of Michael Tilson Thomas in the 2010s, the program has prepared recent graduates from top music schools for leadership roles in orchestras worldwide. Students have been exposed to traditional and modern repertoire, leading guest conductors, soloists, and coaches....