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Strings Suit Songs
TROUPOVÁ & HROCHOVÁ & GRAFFE QUARTET
The combination of the human voice and string instruments has been attractive to many composers, especially in the 20th century, but remains so today. This concert is made up of works in which the accompaniment of the songs is not provided by the usual piano, but by a string quartet or just a selection of some strings.
The concert will include the world premiere of a composition by Miloš Štědroň composed for soprano Irena Troupová and mezzo-soprano Jana Hrochová.
For the concert we have also commissioned a piece by the Czech female composer Terezie Švarcová, which we will also perform in its world premiere.
There will also be wonderful works by Ottorino Respighi, Viktor Ullmann and Paul Hindemith, which were also composed for this setting.
The compositions will be presented in the original languages and accompanied by Czech subtitles.
22 / 10 at 19:30
Salsita Club, Prague – Smíchov
Irena Troupová – soprano
The eminent Czech soprano Irena Troupová gained international renown through the historically-based interpretation of early music, which she devoted herself to already during her musicology studies at Charles University in Prague. She studied singing under Terezie Blumová in Prague, later under M. Corelli in Berlin. She collaborated with the ensemble Musica Antiqua Praha led by Pavel Klikar, creating a string of recordings and exceptionally successful concerts both at home and abroad. At that time she also found an interest in contemporary music and has worked with the likes of Petr Eben, Svatopluk Havelka and others. After her studies she performed mainly in Germany, but the demand for her talent also grew rapidly in other countries (England, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, France, Switzerland, Poland). She worked with many different ensembles (e.g. Orpheon Consort, Johann-Rosenmüller-Ensemble, Schütz-Akademie, Capella Sagittariana, Dresdener Barockorchester, Lautten-Compagney, Kievskaya Kamerata) and conductors (Howard Arman, Joshua Rifkin, Frieder Bernius, Thomas Hengelbrock, Florian Heyerick, Vojtěch Spurný and others). This cooperation brought about a number of recordings. Irena Troupová was a regular participant in the concert programmes of the State Opera in Berlin and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. Among the most interesting opera productions that she took part in during her German period, a mention should be made of Monteverdi’s Orfeo headed by Joshua Rifkin in Basel, Freiburg and Mulhouse (the roles of Musica and Proserpine), of the modern premiere of H.I.F. Biber’s opera Arminius in Salzburg (later released on CD), but also of Le malade imaginaire of M.-A. Charpentier and J.-B. Lully in Berlin.
Irena Troupová is a frequent guest singer at international music festivals, including Tage der alten Musik Herne, Pražské jaro (Prague Spring), Festival de musique baroque Caen, Holland-festival oudemuziek Utrecht, Bach-Festival Sumy and Concenturs Moraviae, to name a few.
Irena’s early music projects over recent years include programmes in cooperation with the Comic Opera (Berlin), German radio NDR (Norddeutscher Rundfunk) and Belgian conductor Florian Heyerik (Salto vocale – fragments from the operas of G. Ph. Telemann), with Musica Florea (operatic projects – Ch. W. Gluck: La Danza, G. F. Händel: Terpsicore), Ensemble Tourbillon, Barbara M. Willi, Jaroslav Tůma, Monika Knoblochová, Petra Matějová and others. More recently, she has been working closely with the international ensemble Orpheon; they have toured Spain, Austria and France together and have also recorded an album, Marin Marais and his friends. She has collaborated with members of the Staatskapelle Berlin, joining in a fascinating project connecting the musicality of the Baroque with that of the Modern: Musik im Dialog – Claudio Monteverdi und Luciano Berio, a concert cycle in the State Opera in Berlin which was followed by a programme from the works of J. S. Bach, Bach – reloaded.
Irena Troupová has gradually extended her scope to include Romantic and Modern lyrical and operatic works. She has performed songs from German and French Romanticism a number of times at the concerts of the Prague Symphony Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic (the early songs of Gustav Mahler). She has also given voice to Jan Dušek’s orchestral songs Chalomot yehudi’im together with Orchestra BERG for the EBU and the songs of Miloš Štědroň for Czech Radio.
Lately, she has focused her attention on the music of the 20th and 21st century; she recorded Bohuslav Martinů’s opera Le jour de bonté (The Day of Charity) for Arco Diva. She has performed the works of Marek Kopelent (the Singspiel Musica, the cantata Agnus Dei at Prague Spring 2012) – she joined the Prague Philharmonia conducted by Jakub Hrůša to render the premiere of Kopelent’s Pozdní sběr (Late Harvest). She is also actively interested in the music of interwar authors – Viktor Ullmann, Erwin Schulhoff, Norbert von Hannenheim, Philip Herschkowitz – performing their works to international audiences and recording a number of their compositions for Czech Radio and Deutschlandfunk. Irena Troupová is also greatly valued as a tutor of early music, teaching at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts and Masaryk University in Brno, and in courses both in the Czech Republic and abroad.
Irena Troupová is a co-founder of the Lieder Company Prague.
Jana Hrochová – mezzo-soprano
The mezzo-soprano Jana Hrochová (Wallingerová), née Štefáčková, gained her first singing experience in a children’s choir in the Moravian town of Šumperk. She studied at the Prague Conservatory with Jarmila Krásová from 1993 to 1999. In 2001, she began studying privately with the soprano Natalia Romanová. In 1998, she came in second at the Czech Conservatories Singing Contest. Her first engagements took place at the Opera Mozart in Prague between 1997 and 2000, extending her activities to ancient music (with Ars Cameralis) and folk music (with the Muzika Jara ensemble). In 2000, Mrs Hrochová was invited to join the opera company of the National Theatre in Brno, Czech Republic. The repertoire she sang in Brno includes Carmen (Carmen), Laura (La Gioconda), Kate (The Devil and Kate), Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Suzuki (Madame Butterfly), The Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen), Varvara (Katja Kabanova), Fenena (Nabucco), Hänsel (Hänsel and Gretel), Nicklausse (The Tales of Hoffmann) and others. Guest performances have taken the young mezzo to a number of opera houses, such as the Prague National Theatre, Prague State Opera, Plzeň, Ústí nad Labem, Liberec, Ostrava, Olomouc (Czech Republic), State Theatre Košice (Slovakia) and Theatre Freiburg (Germany). Mrs Hrochová’s concert activities are an essential part of her repertoire and have brought her together with some leading Czech and foreign orchestras, such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK, Prague Radio Symphonic Orchestra, Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Prague Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Orchestra and others. She works with conductors such as Jiří Bělohlávek, Serge Baudo, Gerd Albrecht, Manfred Honeck, Ondrej Lenárd, Petr Altrichter, Jakub Hrůša, Leoš Svárovský, Tomáš Hanus, Andrej Borejko, Dennis Russell Davies and others. Mrs Hrochová often makes guest appearances at opera houses and concert stages outside the Czech Republic (Great Britain, Japan, China, Spain, Mexico, Greece, Netherlands, Austria, Germany and Italy). In 2011, she sang the alto solo in Dvorak’s Requiem mass at a state funeral of Vaclav Havel. The Brno National Theatre awarded her with the DIVA 2005, 2008 and 2010 Award. In 2012, she was nominated for the Thalia award for her role as Dulcinée in Massenet’s Don Quichotte in a production of the F. X. Šalda Theatre in Liberec. In 2013, she was nominated for the Thalia award for her role as Hermia in Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream in a production of The Brno National Theatre. In 2011 and 2018 she recorded songs by Bohuslav Martinů for Naxos Records. In 2014, she was invited to perform the role of Carmen in the Theatre Freiburg, Germany. In 2016, she made her BBC Proms debut at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
The Graffe Quartet is one of the leading Czech ensembles of the middle generation and continues the rich performance tradition of the Czech quartet school. Founded in 1997, the ensemble has been awarded numerous prizes at international competitions (International Beethoven’s Hradec Performance Competition 1999; ACT International Chamber Ensemble Competition 2003 – London, Great Britain; International Competition “Verfemte Musik” 2005 – Schwerin, Germany), and has twice received the Leoš Janáček Foundation Prize (2001, 2003) for its interpretation of Leoš Janáček’s quartets. In 2005, the quartet won the special prize of the French association “Forum Voix Etouffés” and in 2008 the prestigious Czech Chamber Music Association Prize at the Czech Philharmonic, placing it alongside the winners of this prize, the most important Czech chamber ensembles.
During their studies, members of the Janáček Quartet (especially Prof. Adolf Sýkora) contributed to the artistic growth of the Graffe Quartet, and Prof. Jerry Horner (a member of the famous American Fine Arts Quartet), with whom the quartet collaborated from 2006 to 2017, was a major artistic influence. The quartet has also repeatedly participated in a number of international chamber music courses, where it has had the opportunity to study under the guidance of leading artists. This included Günter Pichler (Alban Berg Quartet, Vienna), Norbert Brainin and Siegmund Nissel (Amadeus Quartet, London), László Mezö (Bartók Quartet, Budapest), Milan Škampa (Smetana Quartet, Prague) and others.
The Graffe Quartet has performed on hundreds of concert stages on three continents as part of major concert series (Dvořák Hall, Prague Rudolfinum, Czech Chamber Music Society; Besední dům in Brno, Society of Friends of Music; Chicago Chamber Music Society, USA; Spivay Hall, Atlanta, USA; Leamington Music, UK, etc. Recently, the ensemble has also performed at many important music festivals, such as Prague Spring, Varna Summer International Music Festival, Bratislava Music Festival, Moravian Autumn, Janáček Brno, Concentus Moravia, Leoš Janáček International Music Festival in Ostrava, etc. Recordings of the ensemble have been made by radio and television stations not only in Europe, but also overseas (Czech, Slovak, Croatian Radio, BBC, American Public Media, Czech Television, Tv NOE, etc.). The Graff Quartet has also made recordings on CD, which have repeatedly won the title “Recording of the Month” on the prestigious British music portal MusicWeb International.
The Graffe Quartet’s repertoire has included around 150 works of chamber literature over 25 years of activity, and the ensemble has collaborated in larger chamber ensembles with a number of important artists. These have included: Michio Otaki-piano (USA), Grigorios Zamparas-piano (USA), Jitka Čechová-piano, Igor Ardašev-piano, Jan Jiraský-piano, Bohuslav Matoušek-viola, Josef Špaček-violin, viola, Kristina Fialová-viola, Jiří Bárta-violoncello, Petr Nouzovský-violoncello, James Campbell-clarinet (Kandada), Irvin Venyš-clarinet, Vlastimil Mareš-clarinet, Pražák Quartet, etc. The quartet is also the ensemble in residence of the VOX IMAGINIS art cycle, which takes place in cooperation with the Moravian Gallery in Brno. Within the framework of these music-drama programmes, the quartet has collaborated with a number of leading Czech actors. Among them we can mention: Jitka Molavcová, Maria Durnova, Lubomíra Sonková, Alfred Strejček, Jan Kačer, Josef Somr, Vladimír Krátký, František Derfler, Sasha Rašilov, Michal Bumbálek, Otakar Brousek Jr.
The Graffe Quartet has given many world premieres of works by major composers and many compositions have been dedicated to the ensemble. The premieres have included works by Bohuslav Martinů, André Previn, Werner Schulz, Jiří Pavlica, Milan Slimáček, Miloš Štědron, etc.