UNH Media Relations
DURHAM, N.H. -- Along with Antonín Dvořák, Bohuslav Martinů is the most revered composer in his native land, now known as the Czech Republic. Little wonder, therefore, that a competition bearing the composer's name draws the best choirs in the country, as well as from abroad, to the town of Pardubice for the International Bohuslav Martinů Festival and Choir Competition. Last month choirs from Finland, Serbia, Hungary, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Israel, Estonia, Belgium, Slovenia and the U.S. joined with Czech choirs not only to compete against each other, but also to celebrate singing as a transcendent art form bringing people from all cultures together.
On this occasion, the sole representative from the U.S. was the University of New Hampshire, and two groups formed from UNH ensembles competed in four categories overall. The UNH Concert Choir was represented by a group of 24 singers competing in two categories, and the UNH Chamber Singers was represented by a group of 10 singers, also competing in two categories. All 33 15-minute performances given by the individual choirs at the competition were judged by a jury of seven of the most pre-eminent figures in choral music in Europe, and choirs were awarded either a gold, silver or bronze "zone" for each complete performance, based on an overall averaged mark out of 30. Both UNH groups received one gold and one silver in their two respective categories.
In addition, the Concert Choir and director William Kempster were also awarded a Special Jury Prize for the best interpretation of a Czech work by a foreign choir for their performance of Dvořák's Napadly písne v duši mou. The Concert Choir also placed first in Category G, making them eligible to compete for the Grand-Prix prize at the competition. Although there were seven categories at the competition, the cold "zone" was not awarded in all of these, so just four choirs then were asked to "sing-off" for the Grand-Prix prize.
The winning choir was the renowned JITRO girls' choir from Hradec Králové. Their performances at Pardubice were an inspiration to all, and were particularly appreciated by the members of the UNH group.
After the competition the four choirs were invited to perform at a special concert in Polička, where Martinů made his home and where his body is buried. Due to travel complications and the need for two of the choirs to get home, only JITRO and the UNH Concert Choir were able to perform at this prestigious concert, which was attended by a large audience, and presided over by the current mayor of Polička, a direct descendent of Martinů himself.
As well as their performances in the competition itself, the UNH groups also participated in two other concert performances in Pardubice, as well as presenting a full program at the renowned Cathedral of St. Barbara in Kutná Hora, near Prague.
The University of New Hampshire, founded in 1866, is a world-class public research university with the feel of a New England liberal arts college. A land, sea, and space-grant university, UNH is the state's flagship public institution, enrolling 11,800 undergraduate and 2,400 graduate students.
Photos Available to download:
The UNH Chamber Singers competing at the 6th International Bohuslav Martinu Choral Competition in Pardubice, Czech Republic June 27 (photo number 7230084)
This is the UNH Concert Choir after their concert in St. Barbaras� Cathedral in Kutna Hora on June 29. St Barbaras was built over about 150 years from the late 14th century to the early 16th century and is one of the most magnificent surviving Gothic Cathedrals in Europe (photo 7260127)