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EDITA GRUBEROVA HIGHLIGHTS THIS YEAR'S BHS WITH ZANDRA MCMASTER

Festival offers a manifold of concerts

THE INTERNATIONAL Bratislava Music Festival (BHS) caps its fourth decade. Despite a significant reduction in finances, the organizers of the festival's 39th year managed to put up a "wide-spectrum" programme, said the chairman of the festival's committee Miloš Jurkovič.
"Let's hope that the festival will make it into its 40th year," he sighed.
But looking closer at the festival's programme, an outsider may find it hard to believe that it is striving to raise funds. Starting September 26, each evening, during the following two weeks, will deliver concerts performed by music stars from 23 countries.


SLOVAK soprano Guberova will close the BHS on October 10.
photo: Courtesy of BHS

THE INTERNATIONAL Bratislava Music Festival (BHS) caps its fourth decade. Despite a significant reduction in finances, the organizers of the festival's 39th year managed to put up a "wide-spectrum" programme, said the chairman of the festival's committee Miloš Jurkovič.

"Let's hope that the festival will make it into its 40th year," he sighed.

But looking closer at the festival's programme, an outsider may find it hard to believe that it is striving to raise funds. Starting September 26, each evening, during the following two weeks, will deliver concerts performed by music stars from 23 countries. The most prominent of these will be Slovak soprano Edita Gruberova, the honorary president of the festival, who will perform together with Irish mezzo-soprano Zandra McMaster at the event's closing ceremony on October 10.

"There will be mainly chamber and orchestral concerts [at the festival], but also concerts of genres other than 'hard classic'," Jurkovič said. By "other than the hard classic genre" he specified the October 8 jazz evening, with the Jazz Big Band Graz, directed by American trombone soloist Ed Neumeister.


YOAV Talmi.
photo: Courtesy of BHS

The Slovak Philharmonic, led under the baton of its new conductor, Jiří Bělohlávek from the Czech Republic, will open this year's BHS at 19:30, on September 26. Among the three compositions that will sound that evening, the ensemble will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the death of leading Slovak composer Eugen Suchoň, with his overture of Kráľ Svätopluk, and the 50th anniversary of the death of Sergej Prokofiev with his dynamic suite from the ballet Romeo and Juliet. For the third piece by Johannes Brahms, Bělohlávek an expert on Brahms music - German pianist Gerhard Oppitz.

"The highlight of the festival's tribute to Suchoň will be on September 27 with his opera Krútňava, staged in the Slovak National Theatre," Jurkovič said. "The festival will also present Prokofiev's rediscovered work, Trapeza [October 8], which was originally composed as a ballet, and which will uncover a part of Prokofiev that we don't yet know."

"Quite a large part [of the festival's programme] is devoted to Bach, despite the fact that he currently has no anniversary."

Following tradition, the BHS will premiere a work specially ordered by the festival. Last year it was a work by renowned composer Ilja Zeljenka; this time the festival approached one of the few female Slovak composers, Iris Szeghy. The Slovak Philharmonic, led by John Neschling, will perform her Homewards for Orchestra on October 5.

Nine international conductors will lead orchestras from Budapest, France, Russia, Germany, and Slovakia. Apart from Bělohlávek and Neschling, there will be stars such as Alexander Dmitrev, Tamás Vásáry, Yoav Talmi, and Kent Nagano, who will conduct the Berlin Symphonic Orchestra.


KENT Nagano.
photo: Courtesy of BHS

While the featured instrument of previous festival was the saxophone, this year's festival will put an emphasis on the flute. September 30 will feature acclaimed flautist Vladislav Brunner, and on October 3 there will be one of the world's top flautists, András Adorján.

Among other international musicians performing, Jurkovič draws attention to pianist Arcadi Volodos, trumpeter Reinhold Friedrich, and unconventional violinist Pavol Šporc who wears a characteristic scarf on his head.

Young musicians, maybe future stars, will compete for the New Talent of the Year award on the second day of the festival, at 17:00 and 20:00. Slovakia's own violinist Martina Karnoková also made it among the eight semi-finalists from almost 30 participants. Three finalists will then compete for the SPP Prize two days later, on September 29 at 20:00. All of the concerts will be broadcast live by the Slovak Radio.

The Bratislava Music Festival runs daily from September 26 to October 10. Tickets for concerts are on sale at the Music Centre on Michalská 10, and the Slovak Philharmonic on Palackého 2, Bratislava; and for operas and ballets at the SND on Komenského námestie; or via internet at www.ticketportal.sk.

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