The Lieder Company Prague’s November concert, entitled “Songs for and with Children“, is in many ways atypical. First and foremost, it will not only feature the established soloists – soprano Jana Sibera and tenor Ondřej Holub, but also nine children’s soloists selected by the jury in an audition announced in June. Pianists Jan Dušek and Bohumír Stehlík will alternate at the piano during the concert, and both will meet at the piano in the final piece.
Another extraordinary feature is the start time of the concert, which has been moved to 3 p.m. in view of the child performers and child listeners. The concert will take place on 19 November in Hall B. Martinů Liechtenstein Palace in Prague (HAMU).
The aim of the concert is to present the children’s songs of the Czech composer Viktor Kalabis (1923-2006), whose birth is being commemorated this year. We presented his work for adult performers at a concert in June. So this year we will perform a complete set of songs for voice and piano as part of the season.
Viktor Kalabis’s relationship with children is well-known, he was the initiator of the international competition for young musicians Concertino Prague and the editor of the children’s programme at Czech Radio. It was this awareness that led us to the intention to present his songs for children’s singers and, above all, to draw the attention of singing teachers throughout our country to their existence. In the end, more than thirty singers took part in the June audition, from which the jury consisting of Alena Hellerová, Roman Janál, Petr Louženský and Jan Dušek selected nine to perform at this concert.
These talented singers from different parts of the country will perform in three cycles by Viktor Kalabis: Songs for the Little Ones, Op. 37 is the youngest cycle from 1973 and Kalabis demonstrates his ability to create simple melodies and to provide them with sufficiently interesting accompaniment that does not disturb the child performer. The Children’s Songs, Op.15 were written in 1958 and it is clear from the first notes that they are intended for more mature singers. Not only do the singing parts include more challenging intervals, but the piano accompaniments are more elaborate and demanding. The 1963 Album of folk songs, Op. 23, then presents both better known and lesser known folk songs in very successful yet rarely performed arrangements.
In addition to Kalabis’ works, two song cycles will be performed, which were intended by their authors for adult performers, but for (not only) children’s listeners. The first is the cycle Four Songs for Children by the French master of the song genre, Francis Poulenc. The tenor Ondřej Holub will perform the funny and entertaining songs from 1934.
Immediately after the premiere, Leonard Bernstein’s five songs, which he composed to his own lyrics in 1942 under the title I Hate Music, also received considerable acclaim. The brilliant personification of the soloist into the character of ten-year-old Barbara is supported by elements of jazz and novel harmonies. The cycle will be performed by soprano Jana Sibera.
Last but not least, at the end of the concert, we will hear the world premiere of a new composition by the young composer Darja Kukal Moiseeva, Under Water, which she has composed for us to a text by her sister Olga Moiseeva. This is the premiere performance this year of a work by the fourth composer we have approached. Her one-movement work for girl’s voice, soprano, tenor and four-hand piano juxtaposes different personality types – from a childishly sincere girl, to an impressionistically conceived dreamy mermaid, to a whimsical and jazzy merman. We also filmed a short video-medallion with the artist, in which she talks about the genesis of the piece and her compositional thinking.