“When I talked to the marketing team, they asked me to give three words that would be the most descriptive, so I told them, ‘passionate, romantic, and nostalgic,’” Dr. Christina Wright-Ivanova said about her concert “A Romantic Evening in Prague and Ljubljana – Passion, Romance, and Nostalgia,” performed on February 26 at the Alumni Recital Hall in the Redfern Arts Center.
The concert celebrated chamber works of composers from Czechoslovakia and Romania from the 19th century.
“I was really excited to show the combination of Czech language and rhythm and really show the music speaking to you,” said Dr. Wright.
Dr. Wright said, “The Czech and Romanian people are very passionate and romantic people who have a very deep connection to language, which really comes out in the music.”
“The music is very direct, honest and deep. You almost have to ask yourself, ‘How does this happen?’. So there’s an interesting connection to the music,” Dr. Wright said regarding the music selection of the concert.
The concert included chamber works by Romantic 19th century composers of Czech origin including Janacek, Dvorak, Skerjanc, Pavcic and Smetana. The concert also included guests artists such as Erica Brookhyser, a mezzo soprano who sang songs accompanied by Wright, Klaudia Szlachta (violin) and Aron Zelkowicz (cello).
“The composer Smetana had a daughter who the composer Janacek had a crush on. Janacek would go to where they would collect water and would talk to his daughter. We actually now have Janacek’s journals [where he] would write down what she said and reflect the intonation of her voice into his music. This honest and nostalgic intonation of the ebb and flow shows the emotion of the music,” Dr. Wright shared.
Cameron Robinson, a junior music student who attended Dr. Wright’s concert, said, “Dr. Wright is my piano professor and was talking to me a lot about how the first half is like lullabies and some pieces are pretty morbid and the second half is upbeat. It was interesting to see how these contrasted.”
Dr. Wright said, “The first half is very depressing, and honest. The second half is a tour de force of piano playing. I asked myself, ‘How can I show the techniques I show my students each week?’. I wanted to show what it takes to show this by playing the Smetana piece, a very heavy piece.The second half is very extroverted and passionate and a really pedagogical work.”
Senior music student Kirsten Becker said, “I heard them rehearsing the Smetana piece and it made me want to see it because it was such a powerful piece. This program is really cool because it is a bunch of composers from one of my favorite time periods, the Romantic 19th century. It’s a lot of composers I’m not familiar with.”
Dr. Wright said, “[Overall] I’m glad I got to see so many students there. Our job is to bring works that aren’t usually included in the literary and musical canon.”
Tom Benoit can be reached at