The music of Europe

THE FOUNDER of the Solistes Européens Luxembourg (SEL) orchestra and the artistic director for the Schengen Chamber Orchestra, Bratislava native Jack Martin Händler will hold two concerts celebrating Slovakia's May 1 entry to the European Union.
The first concert will be in Bratislava, two days before the entry takes place, and the other in New York, four days later.


JACK Martin Händler.
photo: Courtesy of SEL

THE FOUNDER of the Solistes Européens Luxembourg (SEL) orchestra and the artistic director for the Schengen Chamber Orchestra, Bratislava native Jack Martin Händler will hold two concerts celebrating Slovakia's May 1 entry to the European Union.

The first concert will be in Bratislava, two days before the entry takes place, and the other in New York, four days later. Both events highlight Händler's long-term endeavour to join the tradition of his parents and grandparents - the tradition of "the last romantics in music" - and to enhance artistic cooperation over the old continent.

"On May 1, Europe will be geographically and politically what it was before 1933, the year when the burning of books began, which ushered in the horror that continued until 1945. Two years later I was born, and a year later came another 'ism' [communism, ed. note], which ruled part of Europe until 1989. That year, we finally received the opportunity to be responsible for ourselves. Suddenly, we began to realise how difficult it was to form a society, to connect to the culture of the past. We also recognised what we had been missing," Händler said.

Because the totalitarian regimes destroyed much but not everything in culture, particularly in classical music, he says that it is up to people like him - those who were in contact with "the last witnesses of the time" - to build on the traditions of this region and ensure that the coming generations keep them alive.

Händler fulfils this mission with his two projects - Solistes Européens Luxembourg, which unites some of the best musicians from all over Europe, and the Schengen Chamber Orchestra at the European Music Academy, which consists of young musicians from countries all throughout Europe. Participation in the orchestra provides these budding talents with opportunities to enter the international music scene.

The Bratislava concert on April 29 at the Mirror Hall of the Primate's Palace is one such opportunity. Organised in cooperation with the Pressburger Philharmoniker civic association within the Rencontres Européennes concert series, which takes places in Bratislava and Luxembourg, it is held under the auspices of Slovakia's designated member of the European Commission, Ján Figeľ.

Starting at 20:00, the concert will feature talented violinist Ondrej Jánoška, who currently studies in Vienna under the guidance of one of the most respected violin teachers, professor Boris Kušnier. The programme will include works by Georg Philipp Telemann, Felix Mendelssohn, and Benjamin Britten.

A few days later Händler will fly to New York to celebrate the historic EU enlargement with his Solistes Européens Luxembourg orchestra. This non-commercial cultural event will take place on May 3 at the United Nations headquarters. Apart from Telemann and Britten, the programme will include Russian composer Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky.

"This [concert] is for us, and especially for me, a great reward for all the effort I have put into this matter," Händler said.

According to Ambassador Richard Ryan from the Permanent Mission of Ireland to the UN, the concert is "an excellent opportunity to discover and enjoy the variety, beauty, and splendour of European music".

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