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DAYS OF EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL MOVES TO JUNE

Top pick: Lutes, flutes, and clavichords

THE START of the concert season in late September and early October causes headaches among classical-music lovers in Bratislava when they try to decide which festival to attend. But from this year onwards, they will have a much easier time of it.
One of the events, the annual Days of Early Music festival, which for seven years happened in October, has been moved to June. Even though it is the only festival of its kind in the country, the fact that there were many other similar events held in October had affected its attendance levels.
"It used to start a week before the Bratislava Music Festival finished, so people were already tired from the marathon of concerts," says Alžbeta Rajterová, from the Centre of Early Music, the organisation that runs the festival.


SLOVAK ensemble Musica Aeterna will perform on June 20.
photo: Kamil Vyskočil

THE START of the concert season in late September and early October causes headaches among classical-music lovers in Bratislava when they try to decide which festival to attend. But from this year onwards, they will have a much easier time of it.

One of the events, the annual Days of Early Music festival, which for seven years happened in October, has been moved to June. Even though it is the only festival of its kind in the country, the fact that there were many other similar events held in October had affected its attendance levels.

"It used to start a week before the Bratislava Music Festival finished, so people were already tired from the marathon of concerts," says Alžbeta Rajterová, from the Centre of Early Music, the organisation that runs the festival.

"[Another reason we] moved it to June was because some of the concerts take place in churches, and since only a few of them have heaters, the old instruments used to suffer from the cold weather [of October]."

This year's six concerts of original early music performed by leading international musicians will take place between June 19 and 28, mainly at Pálffy Palace. Three of the foreign musicians will also give lectures on the period instruments they play. Even though the seminars are directed mainly at Slovak music students, they are open to the general public as well.

"The highlight of the festival will be Nigel North from England, a lute player who teaches in America," says Rajterová. North will close the festival (June 28) with English lute music composed by 16th and 17th century composers, like John Dowland and William Byrd.

North will be one of three foreigners giving lectures on period instruments. In addition, flautist Benedek Csalog from Hungary - who will open the festival with harpsichordist Riga Papp on June 19 - will talk about baroque flutes.

The third foreigner to hold a seminar will be the director of the Orpheon Consort, José Vázquez. A teacher of viola da gamba at the University of Music in Vienna, Vázquez will bring several original stringed instruments from his collection. His talk will take place on June 25 before his ensemble performs 17th and 18th century French music with Slovak cellist Peter Guľas. Guľas will hold a solo concert on June 23.

In addition to the concerts given by foreigners, the festival will host two concerts by Slovak musicians. Daniela Varínska, playing clavichord and accompanied by piano, viola, and cello, will perform music by Mozart and Beethoven. The renowned 30-year-old Musica Aeterna ensemble, led by Peter Zajíček, will perform in a concert entitled Music from Kežmarok on June 20.

"The Music from Kežmarok concert is basically a performance of music taken directly from the pages of Slovak history, because there has been a highly developed musical scene in this region for a long time," Rajterová says.

The Days of Early Music festival will run from June 19 to June 28. All concerts, apart from the one featuring Musica Aeterna (Klarisky, 19:00), will be held in Pálffy Palace and start at 19:00. For information on the festival's schedule and tickets (Sk80) visit Mestské kultúrne stredisko (The Town's Culture Centre), Uršulínska 11, Bratislava. Tel: 02/5443-2942.

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