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UW-River Falls celebrates Czech anniversaries

Jacob Beranek1 / 2
Dr. Kris Tjornehoj2 / 2

The UW-River Falls Symphony Band is thrilled to announce a special May "Czech Celebration" concert in honor of three momentous Czech anniversaries this year, including: 100 years since Czechoslovakia declared independence, 50 years since Prague Spring and 25 years since the founding of the Czech Republic.

"With a tremendous tradition of creating some of the best wind band music in history, it's an honor to celebrate these Czech anniversaries with a special concert," said band director Kris Tjornehoj. "We are also thrilled to have commissioned an original piece just for this concert by an emerging Wisconsin composer, Jacob Beranek, who has Czech heritage."

The world premiere of Beranek's Památník ("Memorial") will take place at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 3, in the William Abbott Concert Hall at UW-River Falls. The concert will also include other works by Václav Nelhýbel, Nigel Clarke and more.

Beranek, 19, from Oconomowoc, has won many state, regional and national awards for his compositions. Currently, he is studying composition at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. During the summer, he will serve his second term as the composer-in-residence for the Midsummer's Music Festival in Door County.

"I have felt a very strong connection to my Czech heritage, ever since I learned about my great-great-grandfather's emigration from Bohemia in 1891," Beranek said. "I have been significantly influenced by the Czech musical tradition and am excited to premiere this work with Dr. Tjornehoj and the extremely talented UW-River Falls Symphony Band. It is my hope that this piece is a fitting tribute to the history of this beautiful country, one which many from the Midwest can trace their heritage.

"I have also dedicated the piece to one of my musical mentors, Joel Blahnik, on the occasion of his 80th birthday. Joel has been a foremost promoter of Czech music, prolific composer, and legendary band educator in the United States and abroad."

Tickets will be available at the door and are $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and $2 for students.