The DVS once again visits new viola frontiers! This time our intrepid reporter Karin Dolman is reporting from the very First Oskar Nedbal International Viola Competition in Prague (Oct 31st – Nov 3rd, 2019).
Arrived in Prague! After having checked in at my hotel, I felt fit enough to explore the city. Same as during the IVC in Poznan last month, I found a hotel just around the corner from the central square in Prague, so I can hear the tolling of the bells in the tower. The weather is fantastic, and there are tourists everywhere. Fortunately I’m above average height (measured against the tourist population), so I can still see the sights :-). I occasionally make a dive into more quiet streets, but in general it is just like in Amsterdam, walking in a throng from one monument to the next. It is truly a magnificent city!
After having walked several kilometers like this, I return to my hotel and start browsing through the competition booklet with all the candidates, which I had picked up just before my walk. The two Dutch candidates are both familiar to me, as former Amsterdam Conservatory students: Lotus de Vries (currently studying in Berlin) and Michiel Wittink (now in London).
To my disappointment, the programme further reveals that nobody has chosen the Feld or Kalabis sonatas (for the 2nd round), so I’ll have to figure out what those sonatas are like on my own. There is a good distribution of nationalities among the participants: The extreme counts include 14 Chinese candidates, but on the other hand only one candidate from the U.S., Venezuela and Canada. But well, those countries are indeed far away!
I show up a bit early at the small, but nicely acoustic concert hall at the New York University, the main venue of the Nedbal competition.
Oskar Nedbal, who is famous in the Czech Republic for his operettas and theatrical music, was himself a violist in the famous Czech Quartet. He is also responsible for the first known sound recording of a solo viola piece. This recording tells us that excessive vibrato was not necessarily so commonplace in his time.
In total 11 (out of the originally accepted 76) candidates have cancelled, so “only” 65 people will play in the 1st round. This is probably normal at big competitions, but it’s a pity that four countries thereby are without representation here. On the upside, it allows everyone the luxury of a good night’s sleep, because the reduced number of participants means there is no need for anyone to play tonight. So we start tomorrow at 0900 am. Well, I was all geared up for tonight, but this allows me to write this report directly and get to bed early.
Tomorrow it all starts!