Saturday, 10 October 2015

Celebrating Cerha day with a cake at the Austrian Embassy

John Gilhooly, Prof. Friedrich and Mrs Cerha, HE the Austrian Ambassador Mr Martin Eichtinger and Mrs Eichtinger at the Austrian Embassy
John Gilhooly with the cake, Prof. Friedrich and Mrs Cerha,
HE the Austrian Ambassador Mr Martin Eichtinger and Mrs Eichtinger
at the Austrian Embassy. Photo courtesy of the Wigmore Hall
Today is Friedrich Cerha day at the Wigmore Hall with a day of events celebrating the music of the distinguished Austrian composer who is 90 next year. There are concerts throughout the day by Ensemble Modern and the Boulanger Trio, an interview with Friedrich Cerha, culminating in an evening concert from Ensemble Modern and HK Gruber performing Cerha's Konzertante Tafelmusik for oboe, clarinet, bassoon and trumpet, Piccola comedia for bassoon, oboe, trumpet, viola and percussion (world première, Co-commissioned by Ensemble Modern, and by Wigmore Hall) and Keintate for medium voice (chansonnier) and instruments.

Friedrich Cerha
Friedrich Cerha
To celebrate the event there was a reception at the Austrian Embassy last night (9 October) where Prof. and Mrs Cerha, and H.E. the Austrian Ambassador, Martin Eichtinger, joined a group which ranged from journalists and bloggers like myself, through distinguished guests from the music business to young composers like Russell Hepplewhite (who wrote the award winng children's opera Laika the Spacedog for English Touring Opera) and the three winners of the Royal Philharmonic Society's Composition Prize, Desmond Clarke, Hunter Coblentz and Ninfea Cruttwell-Reade.

Martin Eichtinger introduced the evening, commenting that at the 85th birthday tribute to Friedrich Cerha in Vienna in 2011 the President of Austria informed people that Prof. Cerha had taught him music at secondary school. Friedrich Cerha is one of the greatest personalities in classical music in Austria, both as a teacher and as a composer. He is still full of incessant curiosity, still searching and has written in a variety of different styles. As well as music, Prof. Cerha also paints and sculpts. And as a teacher his pupils have included the composer Georg Friedrich Haas.  A great non-conformist, Friedrich Cerha grew up in a time when little value was placed on freedom of the individual and he has developed his own strong moral compass.

Prof. Cerha made a short speech of thanks, looking forward to the concerts today. And then Martin Eichtinger and John Gilhooly, director of the Wigmore Hall, presented him with a cake!

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