(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Iva Bittová, the Moravian violinist, vocalist, singer, actor and dancer, returns to Hudson Opera House on Saturday, February 13, at 7pm, with violinist Helena Baillie, in “Folktales and Myths: Travels through Hungary and Beyond,” a program featuring the music of Béla Bartók and Leoš Janácek in special arrangements for voice and string quartet, performed with students from the Bard Conservatory of Music. The program is presented as part of the Classics on Hudson series, of which Baillie is co-artistic director.
Highlighting Bartók and Janácek’s love of folk music, the program includes songs from Bartók’s celebrated set of 44 Duets for Two Violins and the Moravian folk poetry found in Janácek’s songs. Based on folk songs from Hungary and Eastern Europe, Bartók’s duets for violin cover every aspect of a peasant’s life, from haymaking and harvests to weddings and war. Janácek’s music embraces elements of Moravian and Slovak folk music, infused with the rhythm, pitch, and inflections of ordinary Czech speech to create distinctive vocal melodies.
Both Bartók and Janácek can largely be credited with having saved a disappearing cultural heritage, and Bittová keeps the folk tradition alive with her nimble and original performances. Combining singing and playing with dancing and talking, Bittová enchants audiences with her improvisational style and is not afraid to bend the rules to capture the essence of her native music.
Bartók (1881-1945), one of Hungary’s greatest composers, studiously researched and notated the indigenous music of Slovakian, Rumanian and Turkish language groups, which greatly influenced his own compositions. Janá?ek (1854-1928) was a Czech composer, musical theorist, folklorist, and teacher of Moravian and other Slavic folk music, which he used to create an original, modern musical style.
Iva Bittová was born in 1958 to musical parents in the Moravian Province of what is now the Czech Republic. Her father was strongly influenced by the land of his birth – southern Slovakia – and he in turn was a major influence on his three daughters – Iva, Ida and Regina – all professional performers. While attending the Brno Music Conservatory, Iva took part-time engagements as an actress and musician in Brno’s Divadlo Husa na provázku (Goose On a String Theater) and was soon a featured actress in radio, TV and movie productions. While working full time in theater, she re-kindled her interest in playing violin. After her father’s early death, she decided to follow in his professional footsteps as an instrumentalist and by composing her own music. The violin become Iva’s life’s passion and she developed a singular approach, in which violin and voice are two aspects of a single human instrument. She soon became a fixture in the Czech musical landscape, a national treasure, winning awards from the Czech Musical Academy, including Record of the Year in 1988, being named 2006 Brno-Top 100 Chart Personality of the Year, and performing live State Ceremonies for Václav Havel, George W. Bush, Mikhail Gorbachev, Helmut Kohl and Margaret Thatcher. She developed an international reputation, which led her to working with artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Fred Frith, David Krakauer, Nederlands Blazers Ensemble, the Calder String Quartet, and many others. In 2007, after 17 years in the countryside near Brno, she relocated to the US, amid the splendors of nature in the Hudson Valley of upstate New York.
London-born Helena Baillie was hailed by The Strad magazine for her ”brilliance and poignance,” and stands apart for a rare ease on both violin and viola. She enjoys a multifaceted career as a performer, and violin faculty member at the Bard College Conservatory of Music Preparatory Division. Spearheading an exciting new venture, Helena recently assumed the Artistic Directorship of a newly-named, revived concert series, Classics on Hudson, bringing internationally celebrated artists and creative programming to new and diverse audiences, and establishing a new community outreach program committed to education and opportunity for students.
A prizewinner in international competitions including Munich ARD, Banff and Tertis, Baillie has performed throughout Europe and the United States, with broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and Performance Today for American Public Radio. In her continued commitment to outreach and education, Helena has traveled across the globe to engage new audiences under the auspices of Midori’s Music Sharing Foundation. Helena graduated from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied violin with Arnold Steinhardt and viola with Roberto Diaz. Helena plays a 2012 violin made by Collin Gallahue in association with the studio of Brooklyn-based luthier Sam Zygmuntowicz. Her viola is a 2009 Sam Zygmuntowicz.
Tickets are $35 ($30 members) and include a post-performance champagne reception with the artists. To purchase tickets, please call (518) 822-1438 or visit Hudson Opera House.
Classics on Hudson seeks to enrich the cultural life of the greater Hudson community by presenting concerts that span the classics to the contemporary, performed by internationally celebrated artists. We serve to promote understanding and enjoyment of music through educational and concert experiences for audiences of all ages.
The Hudson Opera House offers a year-round schedule of arts and cultural programming in the former Hudson City Hall, which houses New York State’s oldest surviving theater. Ongoing programs include concerts, readings, lectures, exhibitions, theater and dance presentations, after-school programs, workshops, classes, and community arts events like the annual Winter Walk on Warren Street.