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Petr Kotik’s Master-Pieces (2014)
December 17, 2014 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
The SEM Ensemble presents the American Premiere of Petr Kotik's chamber opera Master-Pieces.
A meditation on the nature of art and the act of creation, Petr Kotik's chamber opera draws from two works by Gertrude SteinY—her 1936 lecture What Are Masterpieces and Why Are So Few of Them and excerpts from The Wars I Have Seen, her diary from the last three years of WWII, published in 1945.
When & where
Wednesday December 17, 2014 @ 7:30pm
Paula Cooper Gallery, 534 West 21st Street
Kamala Sankaram soprano
Marty Coyle tenor
Jeffrey Gavett baritone
Adrian Rosas bass
Pauline Kim Harris violin/viola
S.E.M. Ensemble, Petr Kotik conductor
Michael Rau stage direction
Commissioned by the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in collaboration with New Opera Days Ostrava (NODO), Czech Republic, Master-Pieces received its world premiere at NODO last June 2014. The opera marks Kotik’s return to Stein’s rhythmic, poetic prose, after Many Many Women and There is Singularly Nothing, both composed in the 70’s.
“I wanted to go beyond the spectacle of a musical performance to investigate a meaningful subject matter within a theatrical form,” Kotik notes. “The theatrical energy comes from the very questions raised by Stein, as she continuously veers off her subject to contemplate and think about issues of creative process and the relationship between the self and the world.” The opera is a hybrid between theater and music; and the words—sometimes sung and sometimes spoken—strive to retain the poetry of Stein’s language while opening various layers of meanings.
Composer and conductor Petr Kotik studied flute at the Conservatory and Music Academy in Prague, Czech Republic, and composition at the Music Academy in Vienna, Austria. In 1969, he relocated to the United States, first to Buffalo, New York, then in 1983 to New York City. In 1970, he founded the S.E.M. Ensemble, which expanded into The Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble in 1992 with a debut concert at Carnegie Hall that premiered the complete Atlas Eclipticalis by John Cage.
In 1999, Kotik founded the Ostrava Center for New Music, which, in 2001, began producing the biennial Ostrava Days Institute and Festival. In 2005, he founded the international chamber orchestra Ostravská banda. Among Kotik’s best known compositions are a six-hour setting of Gertrude Stein’s text Many Many Women, Explorations in the Geometry of Thinking, based on texts by R. Buckminster Fuller, and Letters to Olga based on text by Vaclav Havel.