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Biblical Psalms Songs Spotlighted at Free Concert
Anna Majernikova and Ashley Mekeel will present a free concert of songs inspired by the Psalms Thursday night.
Tuesday, November 7, 2023


Anna Majernikova and Ashley Mekeel have a unique proposition for Sun Valley-area residents: Attend their free concert Thursday night and compare the beauty and different musical languages of the same Psalms set to music by two Slavic composers more than a century apart.

“We’ll be singing Antonin Dvorak’s famous set of Biblical Songs, and we will present the U.S. debut of Biblical Songs composed by Marian Kittner, a prominent Slovakian composer living today,” said Majernikova, a mezzo-soprano. “They include Psalm 23, which starts, ‘The Lord is my shepherd.’ ”

The free concert featuring Majernikova and Mekeel, a pianist, will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9, at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Ketchum.

Majernikova, who came to Sun Valley from Slovakia 17 years ago, was introduced to Kittner when the two sang at Majernikova’s sister’s wedding. Kittner heard the performance Majernikova and Mekeel did of Dvorak’s Biblical Songs as it was livestreamed on Facebook in August 2022 and asked Majernikova to debut his own newly composed rendition of the Biblical Songs in the United States. 

“We listened to the songs and they were stunning—they had already gained a substantial amount of praise in the musical scene of Slovakia,” said Majernikova. “We fell in love with the music and decided to go for it. We feel honored to present these songs as a U.S. debut, and we will perform the works of Dvorak and Johannes Brahms, as well.”

Dvorak, a prominent Czech composer, composed his Biblical Songs, a song cycle of ten texts from the Book of Psalms in 1894. They were well received, even in London where they were performed in Queen’s Hall.

Kittner composed a song cycle of Biblical Songs using some of the same Psalms in 2020.

Dvorak’s are in the Czech language. Kittner’s are in the Slovakian language.

“They’re some of the very same lyrics put to music by different composers more than a century apart, and it will be interesting to see how the music has changed, how the musical language is different,” said Majernikova. “The new one is very much church music but it has a little Oriental feel. I can hear some Celtic influences, I feel some jazzy notes here and there and it is very peaceful, very soothing.”

“Kittner’s is very fresh, light and extremely gorgeous,” added Mekeel.

Majernikova has been singing her entire life. She studied at the Conservatory of Music in her hometown of Bratislava, Slovakia, before moving to the United States in 2006 where she earned a Masters of Vocal Performance at Boise State University.

She taught voice in Boise for a while, then returned to Sun Valley, where she continues to work as a spiritual coach for performing artists from all over the world while raising two toddlers.

Mekeel, who grew up in Rockford, Ill., studied Piano Performance at the University of Iowa in Iowa City where she earned her Masters of Music degree in Piano Collaboration. She moved to the Wood River Valley four years ago in 2019. Both were looking for the right musical partner and were elated when they found one another.

“We called it divine intervention. We started to rehearse together and did a few recitals and it was amazing. We feel like we’ve become this channel for the divine power of music, for healing music,” said Majernikova.

Majernikova and Mekeel hope Thursday’s concert will touch all who attend with its stunning, emotionally moving music.

“We believe that the divine power of music can heal and uplift our human experience on earth and inspire us to our greatest potential,” said Majernikova. “Our purpose as musicians is to create deeply spiritual experiences for our audience and this is our gift to the community.”

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