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UW-Green Bay gears up for Czech and Slovak festival, competition Sept. 26-29

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A prestigious biennial music competition has evolved into a full-on festival at UW-Green Bay, where the Czech and Slovak vocal repertoire will be celebrated Thursday, Sept. 26 through Sunday, Sept. 29.

Spearheaded by UW-Green Bay Music Prof. Sarah Meredith Livingston and community patron Sharon Resch, the festival’s centerpiece is the 12th Czech and Slovak Voice International Music Competition of Montréal, for which UW-Green Bay will host early rounds Saturday, Sept. 28 and Sunday, Sept. 29. It will be the sixth time the University — the first and only U.S. site for the competition — has hosted the biennial event.

Courtney Sherman

Courtney Sherman

“This esteemed competition has a rich history of hosting amazing singers from around the world,” Meredith Livingston said. “Not only does it offer the opportunity to showcase the beauty of the Czech-Slovak repertoire, but it also provides a chance for promising young singers to further their careers. We are honored to be a part of this amazing tradition, and we thank all of our community sponsors for their incredible support.”

As a prelude to the competition, UW-Green Bay will kick off the Czech and Slovak festival with a special 360° Thursdays concert event at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26 in Fort Howard Hall at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts. This lecture-concert will feature Laurie Lashbrook, soprano, of the University of Akron (Ohio), performing the song cycle “Apple Train,” by Czech composer Sylvie Borodova. Lashbrook will be accompanied by Associate Prof. Timothy Cheek of the University of Michigan, who will be the pianist for the Czech Slovak competition. Cheek’s wife, acclaimed dancer Bohuslava Jelinkova, also will perform. The 360° Thursdays events are free and open to the public, with donations appreciated.

Mary Arendt

Mary Arendt

Festival celebrations will continue Friday, Sept. 27, with UW-Green Bay’s Slovakia and Czech Cultural Cuisine Luncheon, held from noon-1 p.m. in the Phoenix Room of the University Union. The event will feature a presentation by Meredith Livingston and Lada Gaines, a local musician originally from Humenne, Slovakia. The menu will include a salad, beef goulash, kura na sampinonoch (chicken on mushrooms) and poppy seed cake. Tickets are available at the University Ticketing and Information Center.

The Czech and Slovak competition itself runs from 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 2-4:30 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 28) and Sunday (Sept. 29) in Fort Howard Hall. Guests attending the competition, which is free and open to the public, will hear a variety of performers from all over the U.S. and beyond — as well as some local voices that might be more familiar.

“I am excited to participate in this competition because it is a great opportunity to explore Czech and Slovak music, and to get feedback from other professionals in my field,” said UW-Green Bay Assistant Prof. Courtney Sherman, Music. “It is wonderful to have an opportunity like this right here in Green Bay!”

Emily Brand

Emily Brand

Sherman will compete alongside singers from Texas, Michigan, Kansas and as far away as the Netherlands, in a field of 25 vocalists.

Other participants with local ties include Mary Arendt of Chicago, Ill., a Preble High School graduate and daughter of UW-Green Bay staff member Sherri Arendt; Emily Brand of Columbus, Ohio, a former resident of De Pere; Dana Carlson of Somerset, a Music student at UW-Stevens Point; Gabriella Guilfoil and Ian Koziara, both Voice Performance majors at Lawrence University in Appleton; Kaitlin Tompinka of Milwaukee, a UW-Milwaukee voice major; Tessa Wegenke of Minneapolis, a UW-Green Bay grad in Voice Performance and Arts Management; and UW-Green Bay students Lindsay Cummings (a Freedom High School grad and UW-Green Bay Music/Theatre student) and Kevin St John (Music Education).

More information about the Czech and Slovak competition is available online.

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