Thanks partly to the ambitious new generation of composers, Slovenian music is increasingly making its way into concert halls worldwide. For instance, Vito Žuraj boasts numerous performances in the most esteemed concert venues and festivals worldwide, including the Salzburg Festival and the Elbphilharmonie. His work has been performed by eminent orchestras and conductors, such as Vienna's Klangforum, the New York Philharmonic, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Simon Rattle. The latter two will join the list on October 13th, when Žuraj's composition, "Automatones", will be premiered in Münich. But it is our tonight’s/Sunday guest, the renowned Ensemble Modern, who premiered or performed the most extended list of Žuraj's music so far.
Founded in Frankfurt on the Main in 1980, Ensemble Modern is unquestionably the foremost name in contemporary music on the global stage today. This reputation isn't solely due to their outstanding performances but also their excellent creative collaborations with nearly all leading contemporary composers, who often compose works specifically for them. Among these composers are John Adams, Peter Eötvös, Hans Werner Henze, Heinz Holliger, György Kurtág, György Ligeti, Olga Neuwirth, Enno Poppe, Steve Reich, Wolfgang Rihm, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and, as mentioned earlier, Vito Žuraj. These collaborations and the extensive library of new music are the most precious assets of this exceptional ensemble – an invaluable legacy for future generations. Now, the compositions from sunday's programme will become part of it.
Alongside Žuraj's Book of Bodies, based on the eponymous poetry collection by Aleš Šteger, who will be performing his poetry live during the concert, the programme also features Q. M. by Petra Strahovnik, Stump the Guesser by Nina Šenk, Substitution anonyme by Vinko Globokar, and Techno by Matej Bonin. The latter was composed specifically for this occasion on the words of Ana Pepelnik, who will also accompany the performance with her reading. Ensemble Modern will be conducted by Lucie Leguay, with soprano Nika Gorič appearing as a soloist.
The concert, the conclusion and highlight of this year's Festival Maribor, also marks the beginning of the 2023/2024 Orchestral Series of Narodni dom Maribor. Offering a unique and intriguing cross-section of contemporary Slovenian musical creation, the evening can also be described as a great tribute to Slovenian music.
Text by: Maja Pirš