Brno International Music Festival
Easter Festival of Sacred Music
9 to 23 April 2017
The Easter Festival of Sacred Music draws its most substantial inspiration from its being held between Holy Week, with its commemoration of the Last Supper and the Passion of Christ, and the Sunday celebrating His resurrection and the Easter week that follows. This year we are marking the quincentennial of the Reformation and have made testimonies the theme of the festival.
The two weeks of the festival are connected by performances of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy’s oratorio Saint Paul, both at the Church of Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist. Perhaps an even closer link between church architecture and sacred music is provided by Lithuanian composer Bronius Kutavičius’s work The Gates of Jerusalem. The spatially diverse Church of John Amos Comenius is perfectly suited to showcase this composition’s individual sections with their varied cast. Contrasting with these performances will be an Easter programme of monophonic Latin chants by Hildegard von Bingen and other choral repertoire as performed by the female vocal ensemble Tiburtina. The Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady in Staré Brno is perfect for this repertoire, and has traditionally been used by the festival. It was originally part of a Cistercian monastery founded by Elisabeth Richeza, the Dowager Queen.
The traditional Tenebrae, the “dark hours” of the festival, this year form an integral part of the festival’s main programme, with a performance by celebrated Belgian ensemble Graindelavoix as the focal point. On the Wednesday of Holy Week, they will perform remarkable lamentations by two late renaissance composers who were in the service of the Hapsburgs: the Spanish composer Pedro Ruimonte who was active in Brussels in the early seventeenth century, and his contemporary, the Flemish organist Charles Luython, who was engaged by Rudolf II in his imperial court in Prague. Later in the week these renaissance lamentations will be followed, on Thursday, by a baroque Passion oratorio by František Antonín Míča performed by the Baroque Orchestra of the Prague Conservatory on Thursday, and, on Good Friday, by Johann Baptist Vanhal’s classicist setting of the medieval sequence Stabat Mater performed by the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts Chamber Opera.
Vladimír Maňas, programmer of the festival