I was truly privileged to have witnessed this presentation by Dr. Laurie Lashbrook from the School of Music Voice Area, University of Akron, Akron – and Dr. Timothy Cheek from the School of Music, University of Michigan USA – entitled “Voices of a Nation: Song, Dance and Art of the Czech Republic.”
I was attracted by their overview as found in the conference booklet:
“An interactive presentation of song, art and dance telling the story of the Czech and Slavic peoples as expressed through their composers, painters and dance.”
While we are technically unable to understand what Dr Laurie Lashbrook, Soprano, is singing, allow me to provide a general overview of their presentation. Thankfully, they have lots of handouts that provide very clear translations of the songs they sung (I wasn’t able to keep track though of which is which) and they also gave copious notes from which I am drawing from in this feature.
They began by discussing the role of the “Folk Song: Roots of a Country” beginning with the 1850s til the 1920s. This eventually led to a period of “Nationalism: Honoring the Musician and the Past who gave Life to a Country” from the 1820s to 1880s. The third phase in their musical history was from 1906-1940s where the music focused on “A Country at Last: The First Czechoslovak Republic – 1918.” It ended with “The Velvet Revolution: What’s Next and Where do we go from here?”
Some of the artists they featured in the presentation included Bedrich Smetana, Jaroslav Jezek, Vitezslava Kapralova, Pavel Haas, Petr Eben, and Sylvie Bodorova. It’s a wonderful introduction to their song, dance, art and music indeed.
I was truly amazed by the beauty of the music. I am also intrigued by the fact that Dr Timothy Cheek who was the pianist, also worked with his wife Bohuslava Jelinkova the Dancer, and the little boy Timothy Joseph Cheek who also happens to be a dancer (see video below). Dr Laurie Lashbrook the soprano also brought (I am assuming to be) her daughter Kirsten Lashbrook who took charge of the powerpoint.
It was just so bad that there were only a few people in attendance. It must have been because it was scheduled at an early time, I’m not sure. But it was truly a gift and a pleasure to have witnessed the performances. Truly amazing.