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Unique performances top off Bratislava Music Fest

Performers from as far off as China are coming to Bratislava this week for the final days of the annual Bratislava Music Festival, which since September as been filling the capital's music venues with chamber concerts, orchestras, and choirs.
On October 6, the Peking Opera will take the stage with an interpretation of traditional ancient Chinese opera from the 13th and 14th centuries. Though similar to western opera in that it narrates a dramatic story set to music, Chinese opera uses different instruments, tones, and rhythms to capture its audience. This performance uses gesture, mime, dance, acrobatics and stage masks to convey both humour and tragedy, said Bratislava's own mime specialist, Milan Sládek, who invited the company.


Peking Opera actors will show their art at Aréna Theatre October 6.
photo: Courtesy of National Music Centre

Performers from as far off as China are coming to Bratislava this week for the final days of the annual Bratislava Music Festival, which since September as been filling the capital's music venues with chamber concerts, orchestras, and choirs.

On October 6, the Peking Opera will take the stage with an interpretation of traditional ancient Chinese opera from the 13th and 14th centuries. Though similar to western opera in that it narrates a dramatic story set to music, Chinese opera uses different instruments, tones, and rhythms to capture its audience. This performance uses gesture, mime, dance, acrobatics and stage masks to convey both humour and tragedy, said Bratislava's own mime specialist, Milan Sládek, who invited the company.

Asian music is far from the only thing on the festival agenda. Visitors will also have an opportunity to watch as American tap dancer Alexander Lane acts as both a human instrument and a dance artist in a presentation of a "Tap Dance Concerto" performed by the Czech National Symphonic Orchestra at Reduta on October 4. In an unusual combination, music by Pulitzer Prize winner Morton Gould will be performed by the Czechs under the direction of American conductor Paul Freeman, formerly of the Rochester Opera in New York. Lane is an internationally known dancer who helped found the world's largest tap dance festival, The Chicago Human Rhythm Project, as well as the dance company Especially Tap Chicago.

If Arabic influence is what you are looking for, you can catch a variety of beautiful songs from the Spanish Toledo Cathedral at the concert of the French group Ensemble Organum on October 7. The music, which dates from the 15th century, will also be performed by Al Assala, a group which interprets traditional Iberian Island "mozarab" sounds, as well as "samaa" music from Morocco. The concert will be held at the Reform Church at Nám. SNP.

The annual festival finishes on Friday, October 8 with the Slovak premiere of Hector Berlioz's Messe Solennelle, performed by the Slovak Philharmonic at Reduta. In all, musicians from 23 countries will perform at the festival, which is part of a year-long "Europe, Common Heritage" project supported by the European Union. Along with a focus on the music of French composer Francis Polulenc and famous Pole Fryderyck Chopin, this year's festival features liturgy music to commemorate 1999 as "the Year of Christian Culture."

The entire festival is also a prelude to the start of the new Slovak Philarmonic season, which begins October 16.


Alexander Lane brings Blava American-style tap dance.
photo: Courtesy of National Music Centre

Tickets for all performances are available at National Music Centre, Michalská 10, open Mon.-Fri., 13:00-17:00, Tel.: 54 43 45 58, or at the Slovak Philharmonic, Palackého 2, open Mon.-Fri., 13:00-19:00, Wed., 8:00-14:00, Tel.: 54 43 33 51. Peking Opera tickets are available at Komenského nám., Mon.-Fri., 8:00-17:30 or at Gorkého 4, Mon.-Fri., Tel.: 54 43 38 90.

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