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RENOWNED SLOVAK VIOLINIST ENLIVENS HIS 15TH CENTURY HOME WITH MUSIC

Top Pick: Diamond vault breaks miners' curse

VIOLIN virtuoso Peter Michalica was born in one of the most valuable gothic buildings in Slovakia, Dom Komorského Grófa (the House of the Chamber Count). Erected in the 15th century in the central Slovak town of Kremnica, the house was confiscated by the communists but finally reacquired by Michalica at the end of 2000. The violinist opened it to the public last year with a classical music festival - Music Under the Diamond Vault.
"We wanted to make this historical memorial accessible to a wide audience. Connecting it with music seemed the best idea," said Irena Michalicová, the virtuoso's wife.


MICHALICA plays his own house.
photo: Courtesy of Línia

VIOLIN virtuoso Peter Michalica was born in one of the most valuable gothic buildings in Slovakia, Dom Komorského Grófa (the House of the Chamber Count). Erected in the 15th century in the central Slovak town of Kremnica, the house was confiscated by the communists but finally reacquired by Michalica at the end of 2000. The violinist opened it to the public last year with a classical music festival - Music Under the Diamond Vault.

"We wanted to make this historical memorial accessible to a wide audience. Connecting it with music seemed the best idea," said Irena Michalicová, the virtuoso's wife.

The Music Under the Diamond Vault festival is named after a rare example of gothic architecture in the house, a room whose walls and ceiling are 'cut' in geometric shapes resembling the facets of a diamond. For four Fridays in row, musicians will play right under the unique ceiling in the second annual staging of the festival.

"The music performed is mainly classical, as befits the environment, but it's not a rule set in stone. Contemporary composers as well as musicians starting out in their careers will also get space to perform," said Michalicová.

The first festival Friday, June 21, will be devoted to the prolific German baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach. Michalica, the winner of several international competitions, will be on violin with Miloš Jurkovič on flute and Marica Dobiášová on harpsichord to render two of the master's sonatas.

A trio of young musicians - a guitarist and two dulcimer players - will perform classical as well as contemporary music on June 28. The Solamente Naturali ensemble will play renaissance and baroque music on traditional instruments the first Friday in July. The closing concert on July 12 will be a vocal one: Soprano Helga Bachová and mezzo-soprano Mária Repková accompanied by violinist Michalica and harpsichordist Dobiášová will again deliver classical works.

According to legend, one day the wives of miners in the Kremnica area surrounded the 15th century house with their hungry children and begged the Count's wife to give them bread. The haughty rich woman, however, refused to help them and ordered the guards to disperse them. She then succumbed to the curse of the miners, which turned her into a pig and the loaves of bread into stone. The house still bears a pig's head built into the wall near the entrance door, and two stone loaves on the corners of the building.

"We try to break the curse by offering our visitors not only spiritual but also physical nutrition," said Michalicová. After each concert, guests are invited to a cold buffet and drinks.

The Music Under the Diamond Vault festival starts at 18:00 every Friday from June 21 to July 12, at the Dom Komorského Grófa near Kremnica castle (for more information on Kremnica town see page 9). Due to limited seating, concert-goers are advised to book tickets (Sk60-180) in advance at the Information Centre in Kremnica on Štefánikovo nám. 35, Tel: 045/6742-856; or at the Revivals civic association in Bratislava on Štefánikova 7, Tel: 02/5244-4888.

By Zuzana Habšudová

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