The report about Colloquium 2015 for Czech magazine OPUS MUSICUM 4/2015
MgA. Zdenka Vaculovičová /CZ/ Festival FORFEST CZECH REPUBLIC
During the dates of 23 - 25. 6. 2015 was held in the framework of XXVI. Festival Forfest the continuation of a three-day international conference - biennale of art history Colloquium "Spiritual Streams in Contemporary Art" - in this year with a brief subtitle: Vision of the Future. After years of mapping the causes of the current state of art, the organizers decided to move the theme of the biennale to theme where current development is going, what man expects from today's world of art. In the focus of interest remains current overlaps of music and fine arts. Participants from eight European countries / Ireland, Germany, Poland, Slovak Republic, Italy, San Marino, Hungary and the Czech Republic / formed together a varied international community that felt very comfortable in the picturesque venue of the Museum of Kroměříž – also due to the gardens of UNESCO, whose romantic framework added to this event necessary atmosphere of thinking and meditations.
Matthias Drude from German Hochschule für Kirchenmusik in Dresden came with a lecture entitled "The future of contemporary religious music," which was conceived in the context of his own creation. There was also reflection about the future of financing culture in Europe, which was sounding rather skeptical in connection with the private sector and state funds.
“The conditions for the public funding of culture are getting more and more difficult, at least in Germany. A further problem of contemporary and future funding of culture is the Europe-wide low interest rates on the capital market. Because of smaller incomes private foundations are not as able to be a supporter of the arts compared to the public funding, which also is ever decreasing...”
Massimiliano Messieri - Italian composer working at the Conservatory of Bologna and living in San Marino (where - inspired by festival Forfest – he founded the festival of contemporary art called MaskFest), gave a rather pessimistic vision, "I Had a Dream" leading to the idea of the victory of the principles of modern consumer society over the demands of authentic art - leading ad absurdum to its demise. He promptly ranked audio samples of compositions from the classics of world modernism of the 20th century into witty confrontation with contemporary hits of pop scene. Comparison - although overwhelming - was interesting, but also unexpectedly humorous and instructive. We must add that critical insight of other Messieri theoretical works creates together to his musical work extremely inspiring counterpart, fingerprint of time.
"The future is already behind us. (Some reflections on the past, present and future of the music) "- it was the title and subtitle of the lecture by Martin Flašar (Institute of Musicology, Masaryk University Brno). His thoughts would be worth quoting from the annotation: "The history of 20th century music is full of examples of obsessions future at the expense of the present. As if future lent legitimacy to the presence of musical thinking. Those days are thankfully gone. Italian Futurists, Arnold Schoenberg, John Cage and others become exhibits in the drawer of forecasts of music - and today more than ever, we are reminded that the only givenness in music is its past. This may or need not become a source of contemporary creating, while the future is only a projection of our wishes and desires.
"Postmodernism includes the relativity of progress and linearity of time. From the view of our presence, it seems that the future has already passed. Old music became the area of expected discoveries of near future (i.e. the newly discovered musical sources, new interpretations, special revival of techniques of play, etc.). Concept of New became during the second half of the 20th century outdated and shabby. There is hardly anything more annoying than a boring imperative of New. Stravinsky simply replaced dictatorship of New by the freedom of Old. Perhaps it was he who was among the first to recognize the importance of creative freedom that in any case can not be replaced by imperative of New...“
Major contribution to the colloquium was a lecture Lenka Dohnalová (Art Institute in Prague, Czech Music Council), which briefly outlined the history of international competition MUSICA NOVA organized by the Society for Electroacoustic Music. She remembered among others merits of composers of the postwar generation of Kabeláč, who in condition of Pilsner Radio in 1969 initiated the establishment of the company, which has today an impressive international outreach involving dozens of countries around the world. She formulated very precisely a development of company for the past 25 years, when gradual concentration on the content of the artwork crystallized; she mentioned artistic responsibility in the current flood of projects built only on effect. She stressed the importance of long-term orientation supported by experience and she indicated possibilities of further cooperation. Her erudite overview about European initiatives in this area accompanied by audio examples of spiritually oriented compositions became one of the main contributions of the conference.
German composer and leading personality of Festival in Regensburg Prof. Widmar Hader has named his entry "Lebenslauf". He foreshadowed that it will be a retrospective look back at his own work and many years of organizational effort. The text remembered among others this year's 600th anniversary of the burning of Jan Hus, to whose memory he devoted one of its largest vocal-instrumental compositions.
Art historian Vladislav Grešlík from Prešov University emphasized in his lecture "Secrets of nature and spirit (Štefan Filep and his paintings)" the need for return to the original roots of creation. In Grešlik long-years theoretical work appears frequently this appeal and undertone, which sounds in today's emptied art activities with exceptional urgency.
Leading Slovak musicologist and pianist Elena Letňanová (STU Bratislava) brought critically robust analysis called "Pythagorean councils in music Juraj Beneš." The author here makes good use of its all-round education (she studied mathematics among others) and combines her rich interpretation experience with innovative views of a theoretician.
Irish artist and painter Tommy Barr ("From the Stone Age to the Troubles") for so many years he engaged in the processing of visual symbols of the ancient pre-historic monuments. Ireland has a rich and strong tradition of artistic heritage. Perhaps more than in other countries, there are symbols and visual metaphors embedded in the structure of society, and are crucial to the sense of human identity and spirituality. In his premiere exhibition for the festival FORFEST in the gallery Arthur Tommy created references to Czech mythology and symbolism called "Eternal Circle".
Very precise and revelatory was input by Ales Havlicek (University of Jan Evangelista Purkyně ) called "Kitsch and Ideology." Unveiling and description of deep-rooted manipulative practices of current ideology of consumerism seems to be today more and more necessary...
Márton Barabás (Budapest Communication High School, Art Faculty) completed his participation in the colloquium by a whole exhibition of book objects in the local Library of Kroměříž (Book-Art-Objects). His book-objects are often inspired by music, using your own fonts or tactile experience gives him a freedom in connection eg. with music of Beethoven or Bartok, as well as with aromas and content of the book. There is only a fragile, almost imperceptible boundary between these worlds. The author creates the interference of both visual metaphor for a deeper understanding of what a work of art and sculpture is.
Hungarian composer Lajos Huszar (Budapest) spoke about his dimensional orchestral work "The Passion" (Passio et Mors Domini nostri Jesu Christi), which was recorded by the Hungarian National Chorus accompanied by organ (Lásló Attila Almasy), percussion (Zeno Lang, Zsolt Nagy, Csilla Győr) with soloists (László Hominger- tenor, Lucka Magyesi Schwarz - soprano, Bence Asztalos and Kristián Cser - bass). The performance was conducted by Matyáš Antal. Additional afternoon authorial program the focus of which was listening to this composition, introduced extraordinarily beautiful music - grounded in the tradition of the usual layout of the Passion events. Innovation was a combination of all four evangelists’ texts with texts of selected Hungarian poets.
Leading Czech specialist in electroacoustic music Michal Rataj (Music Academy in Prague) presented the project "Ars Acustica Palmarum as experience with contemporary music in the liturgy of Palm Sunday in the church of Holy Saviour in Prague". It was clear from audio-visual documentation that during the last three years here arises in Easter Passion time promising artistic community having the highest ambitions. Prominent Czech artists and musicians in cooperation with ThDr. Tomáš Halík and his colleagues are involved in the birth of new ideas, compositions and artistic artifacts.
Jan Buchta (Art Historian, Gallery of Fine Arts in Hodonin) was deeply involved in the theme "Spiritual aspects of artistic expression and their reflection in art education."
His presentation was followed by a lecture by Hana Stehlikova-Babyrádová (Masaryk University in Brno), "Spiritual aspects of graphic and acoustic speech." The lecture included statement about the long-term experience working with students with goal exploring the connections of artistic expression with inner experience. The result of this orientation is a newly released comprehensive publication "Routes". (Research of historical and innovative aspects of the arts and education), "in which wide team of pedagogues at Masaryk University in Brno participated.
About extensive life work of composer František Gregor Emmert (+ 2015), which is still little known to wider domestic public, reported in detailed way musicologist Vojtěch Dlask. He was talking about the characteristics of Emmert 26 symphonies, which ranks this composer among the world's leading authors. It seems to be that the time for more mature appreciation of the essential contribution of composers of the postwar generation is finally here.
Composer Jiří Bezděk (University of West Bohemia in Pilsen) presented several examples of the creation of Eva Hubatová with musical symbolism. This was a further development of computer graphics, as it is known from the 90s of the 20th century, involving music programs that are currently available today.
Priest Jan Balík (director of Department of Youth Czech Bishops 'Conference Czech Republic) - as the only representative of spiritual status at the conference - presented the "Guidelines of the Czech Bishops' Conference for the use of liturgical music in worship service of the Catholic Church (especially in relation to young people)," which had been processed and released recently.
Leading Polish composer Lidia Zielinska (Poznan University, member of the Committee of the Warsaw Autumn festival) in her listening workshop called „PLEONASMUS“ had informally shared her experience of working with young people from the academic world and with Polish ensembles specializing on contemporary music. She touched particularly issue of application of electro-acoustic principles in compositional work.
Practice of organizing the festival of contemporary art necessitated the emergence of additional colloquium in which would be theoretically formulated approaches of individual authors to their own creation, their orientation and inclusion in the context of overall development. The platform of this basic starting point has been expanded over the years by views, reflections and conclusions of professionals in their respective fields and its usefulness to the complex of contemporary music and art scene is already today absolutely evident.