2021 Highsmith Competition Winner Lukáš Janata ‘19 will have his work debut with the SFCM Orchestra on October 22. Isabel Tannenbaum will serve as concertmaster.
By Mark Taylor
The connection between composer, performer, and listener is one at the heart of Lukáš Janata’s music. “I like to imagine a magical triangle, the ultimate connection,” Janata said. “When this connection happens, the room creates a unique atmosphere that is irreproducible, irreplaceable and the only one in the eternity of time.”
Janata hopes this connection comes to fruition October 22 when the SFCM Orchestra plays the world premiere of the 2021 Highsmith Competition winner’s new work, Catch. Janata calls the piece “a contemplative, urgent, and lamenting work, that delivers a reflection, reconciliation, and imploration for humane values.”
Every year, SFCM hosts the Highsmith Competition, an internal composition contest that grants the winner a performance with the SFCM Orchestra, with Janata winning earlier this year. “My heartfelt thanks go to the SFCM community, without which neither the Highsmith nor any of the excellent musicians who would play composers’ music would exist. Education is not to be taken for granted, and I am happy I received my holistic one through academic and community engagement,” Janata said.
Born in the Czech Republic, Janata studied at the Prague Conservatory before coming to SFCM and working with professor David Conte. “Lukáš had already at a young age a very distinctive and personal compositional voice," Conte said of his student. "His Highsmith-winning composition Catch is a very compelling and imaginative piece, and shows his continuing deep and flexible assimilation of a wide range of music, especially his Eastern European musical ancestors."
After graduating from SFCM in 2019, Janata has since returned to teach composition, and this premiere will also be a big first for him. “After five years of being here, it is my symphonic debut in the Bay Area, a place that has grown on me immensely, and I am delighted that I can share my music through what is to me my most personal medium."
This concert also serves as another first for violinist Isabel Tannenbaum, who will be concertmaster for the first time. “We set the bar high for ourselves coming right out of the gate with Mahler 3, and everyone is eager to keep that momentum going,” Tannenbaum said. The violin player believes audiences can expect a committed performance: “This orchestra really knows how to put heart into it, and I think that will really shine through in a piece like Brahms 4.”
“What makes this particular concert special, at least for me, is that Brahms 4 is written in a way that's like playing massive chamber music. Both the level of talent and sense of community are extremely strong at SFCM, but it's not often that you get to collaborate in such a tight manner with colleagues from every department all at once. I think that element of this piece will bring out the best of everyone's playing,” she added.
The concert will also feature Gabriel Fauré’s Pelléas et Mélisande with student conductor David Baker and Daniel Tan as assistant concertmaster.
Learn more about studying composition at SFCM.