The Easter Festival of Sacred Music enters its 27th year with the topic Garden and Vineyard. As part of the festival, we will get to see the German groups Singer Pur and the Ensemble Musikfabrik, followed by Motus Harmonicus, Cappella Mariana, Vox Iuvenalis, the Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno and the Brno Philharmonic under new upcoming principal conductor Dennis Russell Davies.
This year’s 27th Easter Festival of Liturgical Music was inspired by the emblems of the garden and its treasures. “The symbols of flowers and their practical uses are deeply connected to the Christian tradition. Our knowledge of these meanings and the connections between different flowers and the liturgical year is however slowly being lost. The Easter Festival aims to remind people of these meanings,” says the festival’s programme director Vladimír Maňas.
The festival starts at the Mount of Olives with Beethoven’s oratorio, followed by the vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane (Wolfgang Rihm’s Vigil) and returns to folk tradition in walking beyond the city walls to the art nouveau Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary) on Křenová street, where we will be able to listen to the Passio secundum Joannem (Passion of St. John) to the tunes of Moravian folk songs. “This concert includes two unprecedented things. It is the first time the festival has joined with folk music and the first time it has been held in the art nouveau church on Křenová street, which is stunning, and its floral paintings are brilliant for this year’s topic,” says the director of the Brno Philharmonic, which is organising the festival, Marie Kučerová.
The festival’s programme director also mentions the ensembles that will be performing. “For example, Wolfgang Rihm’s Vigil promises an intensive hour-long experienced culminating in a strong catharsis, even more so when presented by two of the best German ensembles, Singer Pur and Ensemble Musikfabrik. Another concert, entitled Resurrexit Sicut Dixit, will offer the festival premiere of the reconstructed organ in St. Thomas Church. The audience will get to see the top Austrian organist Konstantin Revemaier, who will present the Brno premiere of the extensive sonata by Edward Elgar,” adds Maňas.
As part of the final concert of the festival, the incoming principal conductor Dennis Russel Davies will perform for the first time in Brno. “The first piece of the evening will be Te Deum by Arvo Pärt, which is one of the best, by coincidence premiered by Davies in 1985. It will be followed by David Matthews’ The New Fire, created specifically for the festival and symbolising the bringing of light to the church. The evening will be completed by Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass,” says Kučerová. It is by no means a coincidence that the concert takes place at the Basilica in Brno’s Old Town. “Caring for the Old Town Church’s garden gave Johann Mendel the key to understanding the laws of heredity. And as for the musical connection: Leoš Janáček conducted the requiem for abbot Mendel here in 1884,” says Maňas.
The festival will take place from 25 March to 8 April 2018.