The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay will serve as host for the preliminary and semifinal rounds of the 12th Czech and Slovak Voice International Music Competition of Montréal Saturday, Sept. 28 and Sunday, Sept. 29.
This prestigious event seeks to promote the Czech and Slovak vocal repertoire for young singers while fostering exchanges of young musicians and specialists between North America and the Czech Republic, as well as Slovakia. This year will mark the sixth time UW-Green Bay has hosted early rounds of the biennially held competition, after first doing so in 2003. The final round of the competition will be held in Montréal, Québec (Canada) Wednesday, Oct. 2 through Friday, Oct. 4.
UW-Green Bay maintains an integral role in the competition as the only U.S. site for the preliminary and semifinal rounds. This relationship is due to a close collaboration between Prof. Sarah Meredith Livingston, Art and Design (Music), community patron Sharon Resch, and Alain Nonat, general and artistic director of the Théâtre Lyrichorégra 20 in Montréal. Nonat created Les Rencontres Musicales Tchèques et Slovaques and the Czech/Slovak International Voice Competition in 1991 during the 150th celebration of Antonin Dvorak’s birth. The honorary chairman was Czech Republic President Vaclav Havel, with Karel Velan, chairman of Velan, Inc., serving as event chairman and honorary co-chairman with Josef Suk of the Montréal Antonin Dvorak Fund.
“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.”
The UW-Green Bay rounds of the Czech and Slovak competition will take place from 10 a.m.-noon and 2:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 and Sunday, Sept. 29 in Fort Howard Hall of the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts on campus, 2420 Nicolet Drive. The competition is free and open to the public.
With the competition normally held in November, this year’s earlier dates will be beneficial for community members who often travel during winter months, Resch said.
“I think there’s a lot of excitement right now,” she said. “The Czech-Slovak repertoire is so diversified, and I think it brings a little bit of the entire world to Green Bay. A lot of people are yearning for opera music and this kind of repertoire.”
The UW-Green Bay rounds of the Czech and Slovak competition will be preceded by a special 360° Thursdays event held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26 in Fort Howard Hall. 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.
The Czech and Slovak competition includes interpretation of Czech and Slovak vocal repertoire, art songs and operatic arias. The winner of the competition receives $5,000 Canadian and has the opportunity to travel to the Czech Republic and Slovakia for master classes with renowned teachers and coaches, as well to present recitals.
In addition to talented singers, the competition welcomes renowned guest adjudicators including distinguished singers, teachers, opera directors and conductors from the Slovak Republic, Czech Republic and the United States. Maestro Gildo Dinunzio, Metropolitan Opera, New York City; Dudley Birder, Green Bay; Stan Cornett, Peabody Institute of Music, Baltimore, Maryland; Eva Blahova, mezzo-soprano, Bratislava, Slovakia; and Julius Klein, conductor of the Kosice Symphony, Kosice, Slovakia, are only a few of the many individuals who have served as distinguished jury members.
For more information on the competition, visit www.uwgb.edu/international/music/.