Ensemble Profiles

Ars Nova at 40

It is remarkable to see how much stamina and strength an ensemble can still have after 40 years of uninterrupted activity that is part of an upward curve.

In this respect, the last concert of Ars Nova held at the festival “Cluj Musical Autumn”, on October 7th, 2008, shows an ensemble full of freshness and strength.

The emblematic character, composer, teacher and conductor Cornel Ţăranu, “responsible” for setting up this longlasting ensemble, was able to attract around him the most prodigious interpreters from Cluj and other parts of the world, who today are recognized globally.

From an excellent article entitled “40 Years With The Ars Nova”, authored by Stephan Angi, prominent personality of contemporary aesthetics I would like to quote the paragraph containing the names of the founding members: “By then, the generous founding members – Agneta Kriza (soprano), Ion Budoiu (baritone) Alexandru Poduţiu (flute), Szövérdi Marton (oboe), Ioan Goilă (clarinet), Gabriel Simon (bassoon), Ion Olteanu (horn), Gheorghe Musat (trumpet), Gheorge Lungu (trombone), Grigore Pop, Adriana Chisu (percussion ), Gregory Botár (violin I), Reinfeld Peter, Vasile Curta (violin II), Ioan Santa, Olimpiu Moldovan (viola), Török Béla (cello), Oana Caius (bass), Harald Enghiurliu (piano) – were, together with their conductor, the basis for a selfless activity, constant and systematic, guided by Ţăranu’s rigorous selection of the most representative, and valuable creations of avant-garde music, both local and universal that have passed the test of 40 years with remarkable firmness style of interpretation and competence. ”

The anniversary concert was a “big day”concert, with a superb performance that can be likened to a window of the past open to the future. It is worth mentioning Ţăranu’s sentence at the end of the concert, paraphrasing Schiller in his usual playful spirit when addressing his public: “The Moor did his duty, the Moor can go.” This replica reflects – we think – a feeling of fulfillment after a duty well done but also of a false ending. In fact one cycle has ended and another one has begun. This feeling of fullfilment is the result of a prodigious activity dedicated to spreading and supporting contemporary music and its composers, especially young ones, who are in the process of self realization.

I was privileged to be among the favored composers, whose works were played by Ars Nova. I think especially about the score “Rime of Michelangelo” for baritone and ensemble, performed in public in the autumn of 1996. It was a great experience for a composer who was at the start of his career – as I was then – and a unique opportunity. I also would like to mention the excellent interpretation of my piece “Insomnia” for clarinet and percussion by Ioan Goilă and Grigore Pop. With the charming and mysterious atmosphere that these two talented musicians were able to create, this work got the first prize in the composition contest “Gh. Dima” in 1989 and and a prize awarded by the Composers’ Union. This success was largely due to them. I wish to express here my gratitude to the instrumentalists of Ars Nova and their conductor.

For Clujians, the Ars Nova concerts have become with time a moment of celebration. Participation in these events was considered a must by the intellectuals of Cluj in a time when modern music was not well regarded by the authorities.This ensemble was created based on the model of Ars Nova from Paris, where Cornel Ţăranu had a chance to complete his studies between 1966 and 1967 with Olivier Messiaen and Nadia Boulanger. It can be considered for Cluj as a pioneer and an impulse for other interpreters to establish contemporary music groups, such as „The Percussion Ensemble”, founded and led successfully to date by Grigore Pop.

We cannot talk about Ars Nova and Cornel Ţăranu without mentioning a spirit of rebelliousness – especially if we refer to the composition “Nomadic Songs,” presented partially during the anniversary concert. A spirit of rebelliousness, not only addressed to the obtuse authorities ruling the country before 1989 but to any type of containment of inner freedom. For what else are the “Nomadic Songs” if not the praise of one’s choice to build oneself in line with one’s inner freedom.

In addition to “converting” the best interpreters of Cluj to the new music we should remember also Ars Nova’s collaboration with foreign instrumentalists such as the French saxophonist Daniel Kientzy, the English Alan Tomlinson and Barry Webb on trombone, the Hungarian singer Katalin Karolyi, the French flautist Pierre YV Artaud and the list could continue.

A constant feature of the ensemble and its leader is also a blending of generations. Not long after the anniversary concert I remember seeing  on stage some of the founding members with younger interpreters such as Ortenszky Gyula (cello), Adrian Filipescu (bass), Codruţa Ghenceanu (piano) Lavinia Cherecheş (soprano), Iulia Merca (mezzo-soprano ), Marius Budoiu (tenor), Vasile Toda (bassoon), Alexandru Marc (horn), Mircea Neamt (trombone). I also noticed the soloists Gheorge Rosu (bass), Anton Tauf (reciter), Aurel Marc (oboe), and the unmistakable presence of flautist Gavril Costea.

For those interested in more details it was reported that last year a student of musicology, Corina Lucaciu wrote a thesis : “Ensemble „Ars Nova:”: On the Monography” that captured important moments of the ensemble’s life and that of its leader, interviews, reviews, posters etc. Such an initiative should be greeted with delight. We look forward to the completion and publication of such a research.

 We wish for more frequent concerts by Ars Nova in Cluj and would welcome the performance of old and new pieces alike.

From a play yet unwritten, to descend from the high skies on our world stage following the line “The Moor cannot go, The Moor still has a lot to do…”.  

 Ionică Pop


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