Irena Kosíková of Prague is the seventh organist at our spring 2020 season of Wednesday@One. We spoke to her about his upcoming organ recital to find out what we can expect from her programme as well as finding out more about her career.
Could you tell us about your musical background and how you got into playing the organ?
I was born in Prague, my parents were writers (prohibited philosopher Karel Kosík and literary scientist Růžena Grebeníčková, the Herder prize laureate). I always admired the sound of the grand organ, so I began my organ studies Prof. Jan Hora, together with piano lessons given by Prof. Eliška Kleinová (sister of “Terezín Composer” Gideon Klein) and Prof. Arnoštka Grünfeldová (author of famous Böhmová-Grünfeldová-Sarauer Piano School). Later I studied organ performance with Prof. Jaroslava Potměšilová and conducting with Prof. Karel Fiala at Ježek’s Conservatory. For political reasons I was refused to further my studies. I took private composition lessons with Prof. Miroslav Raichl.
Finally after the Velvet Revolution I was accepted at the Janáček Academy of Music (JAMU) in Brno into the organ class of Prof. Alena Veselá and Prof. Kamila Klugarová. I graduated at the Academy of Music (HAMU) in Prague, under the guidance of Prof. Josef Popelka.
Since then I give organ concerts and I compose.
Why did you pick the pieces you are playing at your organ recital?
I’ll be performing Canzona in D minor (BWV 588), followed by Organ Sonata No.3 in D minor (BWV 527), Aus der Tiefe rufe ich (BWV 745) and Toccata and Fugue in D minor – Dorian (BWV 538)
As you already might suspect, I’m a great fun of Bach’s music. So, this recital will be featuring his music. And while on this organ tour in the UK, I was asked by some of the venues to perform my new organ piece Labyrinthe VI. pour orgue (2019).
Not mentioning that this year we are commemorating the 335th anniversary of the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach!
I’m already looking forward to play the Cathedral Organ in Bradford.
You also compose music; how would you describe the pieces you compose?
It was well describe by one of my colleagues: “It’s so compelling, dark and brooding. The solo cello part reminded me somewhat of the role of cantor in synagogue music, with its powerful, declamatory, yet persuasive, language.”
He was referring to cello concerto MAKANNA, that was based on the novel of Czech writer Jiří Weil (1900 – 1959), about the rise and fall of the 7th century false prophet with his face covered with the green veil and his eyes glowing as embers.
It was premiered at the Convent of St Agnes of Bohemia in Prague, under the auspices of Sir Tom Stoppard and Václav Havel. Later the music was featured in music documentary film MAKANNA, recently screened in Beijing (the 9the European Union Film Festival in China), in Lisbon (MUVI – International Music Film Festival in Portugal), Prague (Festival Brikcius – Chamber Music Concert Series & Daniel Pearl World Music Days), in Mexico (FIC AUTOR – Author’s International Film Festival) and in London (Waltham Forest Cello Fest – “London Borough of Culture meets Classical Music”).
The best is to listen to it. For example via Spotify.
You play a lot of work by Johann Sebastian Bach; what is it about him as a composer that you like?
Simply, I’m obsessed with organ work by musical genius Johann Sebastian Bach. You can always find something new in his scores. It’s like a never ending story, that has to be told again and again.
As an organist I specialises in the interpretation of organ works written by Johann Sebastian Bach: including performances of the complete Organ Toccatas, Voluntaries, Leipzig Chorales, The Art of Fugue, Organ Mass.
Finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2020?
There will be few more organ concerts in London in following days. Than I have to go back to France, where I need to work on two new compositions (soon to be premiered in the Czech republic, China, France and the United Kingdom) and to finalise the dramaturgy of the 5th BACH FESTIVAL GERS (June – August 2020).
Then more organ concerts in France (again mainly with music J. S. Bach) and editing my new recording for final release. Plus there are several other organ projects to do.
For more details subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Join us for our weekly Wednesday@One Organ Recitals at 1pm, with a lunch buffet available from 12:30pm. Irena Kosíková will be playing on Wednesday 26th February 2020. More information on this recital, all others and this season’s coffee concerts can be found in the programme available to buy from the recitals and concerts.