Monday 3 October 2022, 7:30 p.m.
Nikol Bóková transcends music genres without prejudice in her own creative output, fascinated by the opportunities that this approach offers her. The unique combination of classically trained musical mastery and compositional talent makes her a rising star of Czech piano scene. Fans of the Influencers of Resonance series were introduced to her work in a recording of Fresh Music Talks from April 2021, a unique meeting of Nikol Bóková and Kristina Barta during the pandemic. This time, the audience is offered a glimpse of both her worlds – classical and personal – in a dedicated solo recital.
Nikol Bóková’s education in classical music has equipped her with a repertoire that stretches from the Baroque era to contemporary works, with special focus on music of the nineteenth and twentieth century. She regularly collaborates with leading Czech orchestras – she made her solo debut with the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava at the age of nine. She has performed at numerous festivals, such as JazzFestBrno, Prague’s American Spring, the Janáček May, or Summartónar on the Faroe Islands.
In 2018 she concluded her studies at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno, which had incorporated a year-long scholarship at the Karol Szymanowski Academy in Katowice. Her victorious performance of a composition by Oskar Nedbal at the Vítězslav Novák International Piano Competition in 2015 inspired her to release the historically first complete recording of Nedbal’s as-yet largely neglected piano works together with Czech Radio.
But classical music is just one of the many musical paths she treads with ease and exuberance. In 2019 she released her first fully authorial album titled Inner Place (Animal Music), which draws on jazz, classical music, and minimalism, with a slight hint of pop. A year later she followed it with Unravel, in which superbly performed complex classical works for solo piano are innovatively interwoven with compositions of her own. For her third, award-winning album Prometheus (2021), she brought in leading jazz figures David Růžička and Jaromír Honzák and world-renowned hornist Radek Baborák as guest performers. The titular “Prometheus” was declared Best Jazz Composition of 2020 by the copyright protection collective OSA. Her latest album, Elements, dates from March this year. The recording, in jazz quartet arrangement, is also the first release by her new label Soleil et Pluie, co-founded with the visual artist Jan Vala. Another fruit of their collaboration is Cataplasm, a project which presents Nikol’s music world.
Nikol often uses a personalised system of notation to write her compositions, emphasising harmonic functions, major elements of melody, and intervals, unhampered by the rules and patterns of jazz. “I see my compositions more as ‘songs’ in which I can spontaneously express a story. Compared to classical music, I regard it as a more straightforward – and in a sense simpler – mode of expressing my emotions. And I don’t feel the need to belong to any specific genre,” she says of her work. However, her experience gleaned from the interpretation of classical music cannot be overlooked – neither in her compositions, nor in her performances.