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Worth Czeching Out

March 10, 2000|JOSEF WOODARD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

One of the most notable musical currents at Cal State Northridge is its classical guitar program, which brings important players from around the world to campus.

This week, the dart on the global guitar map lands on the Czech Republic with the arrival Saturday of noted guitarist Vladislav Blaha.

Classical guitar culture has been Blaha's life, and he gives back. He studied at Brno Conservatoire, founded by composer Leos Janacek, and after winning several European competitions in the late '70s and early '80s, he began his active musical life.

Aside from life as a recitalist, he plays in a duo with violinist Jiri Novotny and performs mostly 20th century music in the Brno Instrumental Trio with Novotny and accordionist Jaramir Zamecnik.

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Away from his instrument, he is president of the Czech Classical Guitar Society, has directed the International Guitar Festival in Brno since 1992 and is a reviewer for the British-based magazine Classical Guitar.

On his third visit to the U.S., he will play 12 concert dates.

Mixing up standard repertoire with new music is important to Blaha's musical mission. Nikita Koshkin, the famed Russian composer and guitarist who appeared in the CSUN series last fall, dedicated his memorable "Usher's Waltz" to Blaha.

His tastes are international, including the music of Astor Piazzolla, but he also has an ear close to home.

"I prefer to play Czech music, especially 20th century music," Blaha said.

"But the concert program needs contrast and different styles. I like contemporary music with reach, music that is modern without empty effects."

BE THERE

Vladislav Blaha performs Saturday at 8 p.m. at Cal State Northridge Recital Hall, Room 158, 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge. $12. (818) 677-2488.

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