— Early Music Concert Series —
Songs for Advent and Christmas from the collection Česká Mariánská Muzika by Adam Václav Michny z Otradovic (1647).
Monday 21 December 2020 19:00 — On-line concert, Prague, Czech Republic.
Part of the series Dialogues with the lute.
|I.||℣ 1,2,4,12||Vánoční rosička — Již jest spadla rosička|
|II.||℣ 1,5,6||Vánoční noc — Chtíc, aby spal, tak zpívala|
|III.||℣ 1,2,5,6||Vánoční magnét a střelec — Vitej, Pane Jezu Kriste, narozený z Panny čisté|
|IV.||℣ 1,3,13,14||Vánoční roztomilost — Toto malé děťátko, to milé nemluvňátko|
|XI.||Ježíš outočiště pokušeného srdce|
|XII.||℣ 1,2,10||Svaté lásky labyrinth — Ach, ach, nevím kudy kam|
|X.||Rána života od ruky Spasitele|
|XXXIV.||℣ 1,2,12,13||O Očišťování blahoslavené Panny Marie — Opět veselost, Panenko, veselme se|
|L.||℣ 1,2,3,7||Mariánský milovník — Maria, Boží Matičko, poslyš|
|XXXVI.||℣ 1,2,6,8||Archanjelské Ave — Poslyšte a podivte se, jaké jest to veselí|
|LI.||℣ 1,2,4,9||Mariánský rytíř — Z celého srdce miluji, tebe, Maria, miluji|
|XL.||Panenské Alžběty navštívení|
|LIII.||℣ 1,2,10||Mariánské Ave — Stotisíckrát pozdravuji, k tobě lásku obnovuji|
|V.||℣ 1,2,3,4||Vánoční kolíbka a kolibání — Čas jest, děťátko, poď, pacholátko|
|VI.||℣ 1,3,6||Vánoční vinšovaná pošta — Bůh se nám dnes narodil|
|VIII.||Slova lásky ku Kristu Pánu — Kdykoli mysl s pilnosti zpytuje|
The œuvre of the composer, organist and poet Adam Václav Michna z Otradovic (ca. 1600–1676) is — not only due to its sheer volume — quite exceptional within the music production in the Lands of the Bohemian Crown of the 17th century. Its author combines musical talent and poetry in an original manner. An addition to his Latin sacred works, the songs that Michna set to his own Czech words are very rich and valuable. This makes him appreciated not only as a skilled composer, but also as an important representative of early Baroque Czech poetry. Michna was also a deeply faithful Catholic and his creative poetry was strongly influenced by his frequent contacts with the Jesuit order.
A typical example of Michna’s compositional style is his first printed collection, Česká Mariánská Muzika (Czech Marian Music) from 1647. It comprises 64 songs, divided into three sections: Songs about the feast of God the Son of God, about the feast of the Mother of God, and about the dying and deceased. Each part is further subdivided. The divisions are based on the themes of the songs, the parts themselves being organised chronologically according to the order of the liturgical year. Although Michna was a composer capable of writing extensive and interpretatively demanding compositions, he chose more modest manners in this song collection, based on his longstanding experience as an organist in the Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary in Jindřichův Hradec. With the lower interpretational difficulty and smaller cast, he met the specific needs of church choirs of his time. By the same token, the humility with which he approached working with the musical material bestows Michna’s work an extraordinary charm and is probably the reason for the continued great popularity of these songs.
The vocal octet OctOpus Vocalis was founded in 2013, but most of its members have been singing together since their childhood when they met in the Brno children’s choir Kantiléna. Since then, they have collaborated on many projects, either within larger music groups, in chamber ensembles or as solo performances.
Apart from the desire to share with the audience the joy of vocal music, the decision to sing together in a solo-oriented vocal ensemble originates primarily from the possibility to expand the repertoire with compositions for chamber ensemble, possibly experimenting with compositions that originally were intended for a larger cast, yet in solo performances acquire some new dimensions and contexts.
Stylistically, the ensemble focuses primarily on the music of the pre-classical era and the classical repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries, searching for interesting thematic and musical connections between these historically distant poles. Its programme includes also compositions from other periods, occasionally abandoning the art music in favour of folk music, swing or jazz.
In addition to the a capella pieces that form the basis of the repertoire, OctOpus Vocalis regularly collaborates with instrumentalists of various styles (Jan Čižmář, Plaisirs de Musique, Brno Contemporary Orchestra, František Nečas). The ensemble performed the Czech premiere of the Polish composer Pawł Łukaszewski’s cycle Responsoria Tenebrae (Brno Easter Festival, 2014) and participated in the world premiere of Missa Brunensis by the Brno-based composer Mario Buzzi (Brno Contemporary Orchestra, conducted by Pavel Šnajdr, 2016). The ensemble shares its interpretative experience at international choral gatherings and attends courses and workshops (e. g. with members of The King’s Singers in 2015, 2019).
Early music and also lute music have experienced an unprecedented renaissance in recent decades. During the last 20 years the lute community around the world has grown by unprecedented amounts. Lute playing is taught at leading music academies, the research into the musical interpretation and the making of lutes are progressing in huge steps, hitherto unknown music sources have been discovered, — in short, the lute is experiencing a great comeback.
The Lands of the Bohemian Crown experienced an outbreak of lute playing in the 17th century and took the baton of creative processing of the French lute impulse. Lute music was popular at the courts of Rudolf II in Prague and Vienna, as well as among the townspeople and at the university. Especially the High Baroque period, however, witnessed a radical flourishing of lute playing in the Bohemian Lands.
Since 2018, this precious cultural heritage is being actively nourished by the Czech Lute Society, which aims to promote the lute music and the Czech lute heritage through concerts, lectures, research, publication of editions and articles in specialist journals, and through lending music instruments and providing versatile help for prospective lutenists. The members of the society form a lute orchestra, performing under the name Bohemian Lute Orchestra. It is directed by Jan Čižmář, our leading player and lecturer at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno.
Jan Čižmář Jan Čižmář is a versatile artist focusing on playing historical music instruments. After graduating in guitar and musicology in his native city Brno he studied classical guitar at the Royal College of Music in London, where he began playing the lute intensively in the class of Jakob Lindberg. He studied historical lutes at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague (Nigel North, Joachim Held, Mike Fentross, Christina Pluhar) and attended master classes (Hopkinson Smith, Yasonuri Immamura, Evangelina Mascardi). He was awarded the M.A. with honours for original and distinctive research and its practical application. After his return to the Czech Republic, he was a PhD student in the subject of Early Music at the Institute of Musicology of Masaryk University, Brno, and at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno.
In addition to the solo baroque and renaissance repertoire, Jan Čižmář also collaborates with various chamber groups. Under his artistic direction he formed the ensemble Plaisirs de Musique, which specializes in authentic interpretation on period instruments of music from older stylistic eras. Its members are leading European professional musicians, as well as singers, actors and dancers. Jan Čižmář performs regularly in concerts and opera productions in Europe, Asia and the USA with ensembles such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Orchestra of the Eighteenth Century, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, Collegium 1704 and Capella Cracoviensis, under conductors such as Frans Brϋggen, Christopher Hogwood, Giovanni Antonini, Yannick Nézet-Séguin or Christina Pluhar. He has participated in a number of studio and live recordings (CD, DVD, radio, TV).
Apart from the interpretation of early music, Jan Čižmář has extensive experience with other genres including jazz and popular music. For example, he took part in a European concert tour with the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, and has recently performed with the singer Iva Bittová and with the band Spirituál Kvintet. His experience with theatre stages includes a tour of Spain with Elisabeth I: El ultimo baile with the legendary Lindsay Kemp Company. He has worked with Brno City Theatre, the National Theatre Brno (Dafne, 2011) and the National Theatre in Prague (Gloriana, 2012). He is also intensively involved in editorial, scientific, organizational and popularization activities, especially in the field of early music. He was the founder and chief editor of the Czech guitar magazine Kytara and contributes regularly to other periodicals. As a music editor he collaborates with publishers such as Bärenreiter. Since 2010 he has been the artistic leader of an early music concert series and summer festival, organised by Hudební lahůdky (Musical Delicacies civic association). Jan Čižmář taught lute and related instruments at the Karol Szymanowski Music Academy in Katowice (Poland) and at the Academy of Ancient Music of the Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University in Brno. Currently he teaches at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno and at the Conservatory in České Budějovice. He is regularly a visiting teacher at other music academies and at courses and masterclasses in Europe and overseas.
The concert takes place with financial support from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic and the Capital City of Prague.