Articles

After a covid break, the streets of Brno were once again filled with costumes from various parts of Moravia as well as other European countries. On the first day of September, the International Folklore Festival Brno began. Like the vast majority of festivals and regular events that could not take place in the last two years, the IFF also had a break due to government measures. And that is why this year’s festival chose the telling subtitle “We Live”. This time BROLN provided the opening concert in the courtyard of the New Town Hall, and there were two special reasons for this.  more

For the seventh time, the multi-genre music festival Brno Music Marathon proved that with precise organization and a little luck, an astonishing amount of music can be packed into one long weekend. From Thursday to Sunday (11-14 August), selected music halls, squares, courtyards, and city streets were filled with the artistic creations of countless bands, ensembles, and specific musical groups of all genres and styles. Lovers of rock, world music, jazz, artistic music, folklore, and improvised music were in for a treat. However, this year’s edition differed from the previous one in one crucial respect: 2022 introduced the first ever artist in residence of the festival, the violinist, flautist, and pianist Anna Fusekmore

The abbey in old Brno where Gregor Johann Mendel worked until his death hides several beautiful areas behind its walls. One of them is the Paradise Court, which is entered through an inconspicuous entrance next to the Basilica of the Assumption. On Thursday 16 June, the stone walls of this ancient space hosted the opening concert of the Brno and its churches project.  more

On Friday 17 June, Catalan singer-songwriter Magalí Sare will perform in Brno as part of the Ibérica festival. Her current album Eponja reached number six on the prestigious World Music Charts Europe in June 2022, compiled by 45 European radio publicists from albums around the world. As an invitation to the concert, we bring you a review of this album.  more

Another in a series of themed “anniversary” orchestral concepts by Jiří Kotača for his big band, this one commemorates the centenary of the birth of Canadian-American jazz pianist, composer, bandleader, and above all, genius arranger Gil Evans and his successful collaboration with legendary trumpeter Miles Davis in the late 1950s.  more

Brno musicians are talented in various genres, and they’re generally long-lived and vital individuals. This was resoundingly clear during the jubilee celebration of Mojmír Bártek, a teacher, composer, arranger, and above all a virtuoso trombone player. The jubilee concert, dubbed Mojda Bártek 80, was prepared by his friends under the direction of B-Side Band trumpeter and bandleader Josef Buchta. Despite the birthday boy’s open and (sometimes emotional) enjoyment of the two and a half hour program, he still remained an active participant of the entire musical production except for brief moments of rest. He performed as the author of many compositions, but above all as a player, trombone in hand and fully committed.  more

On Thursday 24 March, a Brno audience experienced a truly special evening. Director Břetislav Rychlík and his wife prepared a concert on the music stage of the Brno Municipal Theatre in support of Ukrainian artists who fled their country to escape the war. The evening was entitled “Common Roots” and sought to closer acquaint the audience with the similarities between the folk cultures of Ukraine and Moravia. During the evening's program, I could feel the general musical parallels in particular. Exceptional artists are able to pass such beauty onwards anywhere in the world.  more

Under the “cipher” 29/2 (reads as “Twenty-ninth February”) there is a band that was created for a bit of fun. They used compositional techniques that should not work in songwriting at all. It has united musicians who, by definition, perhaps can never understand each other. And yet the result is an album of very strong songs that, despite all the experimentalism, makes sense and works as a whole.  more

Ód ... The artistic name evokes singing, narration, poetry, odes… It is also a guide to pronounce the first name in Czech of the protagonist, a French singer settled in Brno, Aude Stulírová Martin. She has been living in Moravia for ten years and is an excellent Czech speaker. In that time she has co-founded a band called Šarivary as well as the theatre company of Le Cabaret Nomade. She was also active as an artistic director of the Bonjour Brno festival. Bébé Lune is her current, second album – a collection of lullabies from around the world, it was created by Ód as a result of her winning Expats for Brno, a competition seeking innovative projects. So, while the project is international in its content, it is very closely related to Brno.  more

Anyone who knows the B-Side Band, especially through performing international hit songs with the singer Vojtěch Dyk, or last year’s album Folk Swing, may be surprised by their unique take on a production of Jaromír Hnilička’s Missa Jazz. In fact, the big band’s history is tightly interwoven with the composer’s legendary Jazz Massmore

On the occasion of his 66th birthday last year, documentary film-maker, singer-songwriter, musician, author of theatre plays and writer Jiří Vondrák released a double album, one representative of his musical activities at large rather than a selection of his best-known material. Despite the title this is no “best of” collection, instead it’s a noteworthy mix of hits and rare pieces, old songs and new songs, and modern folk and rock pieces. As such it serves as a great introduction to Vondrák, a Renaissance man of culture in Brno, as well as a collector’s item featuring recordings not released elsewhere or almost impossible to find. The first half of the double CD really packs a punch, too.  more

Hajcman, a tramp-swing group with its roots in Brno, released their expected debut album Jednou to bude (It Will Come to Pass). The band’s name, derived from the Czech word for a supporting steel frame in coal mining, is a reference to cave exploring, the hobby of the group’s leader Martin Škrobák, whose first band was called Stalaktit (Stalactite). While the album largely showcases the talents of the tramping legend, it does feature a sample of the band’s work in the form of two songs by Martin, hinting at the direction of the band’s future album of author's songs. It’s Jaroslav Velinský aka Kapitán Kid who is the author of the most of the debut’s collection of songs, the result of over a decade’s effort. An old friend of Martin’s, as well as a fellow musician and inspiration to him, the tramping music king Kapitán Kid had planned to record some “blasts from the past” in 2005 with his previous outfit the Banjo Gang, as described in the sleeve notes and associated songbook. Joint recording sessions with Martin and his friends took place subsequently, but Velinský’s best-known tramping songs from the CD Tempo di kůň (Tempo de Horse; released in 2007) were eventually preferred. This is how these tracks came to be short-listed, with the blessing of Kapitán Kid himself, and recorded just a few years after the songwriter’s death, making it essentially a tribute to him.  more

While concert halls and opera houses are rather on the empty side, seven hotels in the city have seen a lot more activity thanks to the Brno Contemporary Orchestra – a chamber music group led by Pavel Šnajdr and the arts platform Terén – Pole performativního umění (Terrain – Fields for the Performing Arts). Every night of the week, from 15 to 21 March, fans of modern artificial music had the opportunity to visit one of the hotels via YouTube. Not only was the atmosphere of the empty rooms and corridors absorbing, but also the drama in combination with unusual the visual stimuli. Please, do not disturb, as the series was named by its creators - the Brno Contemporary Orchestra and Terén, featured more than just standard recordings of concerts. Indeed, a narrative thread ran through every evening’s experience, which was directly or subtly connected with the musicians or the space itself.  more

“It’s absolutely perfect, I play it all the time and it plays in my head all the time,” commented Matěj H., a music studies graduate and Brno politician. In another Facebook debate, a musical editor with a pen name of Max B. depicts it to be “totally horrible stuff.” Few domestic albums recorded in 2020 received such varied responses as Folk Swings, a collection of what were initially contemporary folk songs, re-arranged to become big-band pieces and performed by B-Side Band with Josef Buchta as the bandmaster.  more

The coronavirus crisis of 2020 (and 2021) has had such an impact on the form of the musical market that researchers, with hindsight, will probably ask whether there are any recordings released at that time and not affected by it. Robert Křesťan and Druhá tráva (Second Grass) wanted to work on a double album containing cover versions of songs by his favourites and new own works next to each other. The British producer Eddie Stevens became a part of this ambitious project but the interrupted opportunity of travelling between the Czech Republic and London also stopped work on the 2CD. The band decided not to wait for the easing and released the Díl první (Part One) separately. This is not the exact form of the initially intended first disc. “Releasing cover versions only without any apparent relationship between them and the original works seemed inadequate to us and the production style of Eddie Stevens is individual and unifying in a specific way  to such an extent that we decided to release a mix of the two on the first medium and delay the second part,” explains Křesťan. Therefore, we have Díl první in front of us, but this is not any half-hearted recording or unfinished work. In spite of the Act of God, Druhá tráva has succeeded in recording one of the strongest Czech discs of 2020.  more

The Latvian instrumental band Very Cool People recently released an album with the long title 50 Years of Influence + 30 Years of Cool Equals 13 Years of Music Hooliganism. In a few days they will come to Brno to present it – they’ll play on 17th September in Music Lab club. And besides the songs from the aforementioned album, you’ll also get to hear the complete new songs from the yet-to-be-released projects. The band, led by guitarist Elvijs Grafcovs, who answers our questions, has plenty of them.  more

After a covid break, the streets of Brno were once again filled with costumes from various parts of Moravia as well as other European countries. On the first day of September, the International Folklore Festival Brno began. Like the vast majority of festivals and regular events that could not take place in the last two years, the IFF also had a break due to government measures. And that is why this year’s festival chose the telling subtitle “We Live”. This time BROLN provided the opening concert in the courtyard of the New Town Hall, and there were two special reasons for this.  more

At the penultimate concert of its tenth year jubilee staged in the Fresco Room of the Comenium Elementary School, the Olomouc Baroque Festival presented an evening with the Musica Florea ensemble. The musicians, conducted by cellist Marek Štryncl, performed a selection of compositions by forgotten classical and early romantic composers Karl Kohaut, Jan Ladislav Dusík and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. The choice of composers was not random – this year it is 210 years since Dusík’s death and 185 years since Hummel’s death. Performing with the ensemble’s core members – violinist Magdalena Malá and Simona Tydlitátová, violist Lýdie Cillerová, cellist Marek Štryncl and bass player Ondřej Štajnochra – was Petra Matějová on the fortepiano.  more

The album Zavrzlama by Bosnian band Divanhana is so far in continuous sequence, the second best world recording of 2022 according to the panel of radio publicists of World Music Charts Europe. Divanhana will perform as part of the Lednice-Valtice Music Festival on 26 August in Hlohovec and a day later in Břeclav – Charvátská Nová Ves. The band’s pianist, Neven Tunjíč, is here to answer our questions.  more

On 18 and 19 August, the tenth anniversary edition of the Olomouc Baroque Music Festival included a unique dramaturgical treat in its program – one of the most historically important Czech operas which, however, does not appear much on the stages of opera houses or music halls. This is Dráteník (The Tinker), the first original Czech opera composed by František Škroup to a libretto by Josef Krasoslav Chmelenský. It was directed by Kateřina Křivánková, with costumes and set by Sylva Marková and music by Marek Čermák, and performed by the Volantes Orchestra, the festival’s resident ensemble. Singing roles were taken up by Matúš Šimko (Dráteník/Škroup), Lenka Cafourková Ďuricová (Růžena), Vincenc Ignác Novotný (Vojtěch), Zuzana Badárová (Liduška), Aleš Janiga (Květenský), Jiří Miroslav Procházka (Lána), and Martin Vodrážka (Kůl). The purely dramatic roles of Chmelenský – the aforementioned author of the libretto – and Hranatý the guard were played by Martin Mihál. The reviewer visited the premiere performance.  more

For the seventh time, the multi-genre music festival Brno Music Marathon proved that with precise organization and a little luck, an astonishing amount of music can be packed into one long weekend. From Thursday to Sunday (11-14 August), selected music halls, squares, courtyards, and city streets were filled with the artistic creations of countless bands, ensembles, and specific musical groups of all genres and styles. Lovers of rock, world music, jazz, artistic music, folklore, and improvised music were in for a treat. However, this year’s edition differed from the previous one in one crucial respect: 2022 introduced the first ever artist in residence of the festival, the violinist, flautist, and pianist Anna Fusekmore

For the sixth time, the Music Marathon has stirred up the streets, squares, and many spaces in Brno with all sorts of musical genres. These are not necessarily just concert venues, however. The Hausopera ensemble, for example, took their opera The Eternal Miss Pale to the Zeman Café on Friday 12 August. In three weekend performances there, they will complete their “Trilogy for the City”, a custom-made project for Brno that recalls its pros, cons, and above all some of its functionalist buildings.  more

As part of the Ibérica Festival, Catalan singer-songwriter Magalí Sare performed with guitarist Sebastià Gris from Mallorca on 17 June 2022 in Brno. The following interview was conducted immediately after the concert.  more

Just like every year, the Znojmo Music Festival brought its visitors an opera of its own production. For this year's 18th edition, subtitled Returning Home and Our Guardian Angels, the organizers prepared a stage performance of Joseph Haydn's oratorio The Return of Tobias. The Old Testament story about a tested marriage and a blind father was performed by the Czech Ensemble Baroque under the baton of Roman Válek and directed by Tomáš Ondřej Pilař at the premiere on 15 July 2022 (this performance was visited by this author) in the riding hall of the Louka Monastery – the reprise and last performances will take place on the following two days. Shira Patchornik (Sarah), Lucie Kaňková (d'Azaria), Dagmar Šašková (Anna), Theodore Browne (Tobias), and Adam Plachetka (Tobit) performed the solo roles. Costumes were designed by Ivana Ševčíková Miklošková, choreography by Martin Šinták, and lighting design by Tomáš Příkrýmore

Last year they were the stars of Brasil Fest Brno. This year they will be welcomed to Náměšt’ nad Oslavou, where they will perform on 25 July at the Folk Holidays as part of an evening called Poetry in Every Song. In the meantime, they have played at the WOMEX world music fair in Portugal and the sold-out spring festival Budapest Ritmo. Above all, they were awarded the prestigious prize of Songlines magazine, today’s most respected periodical in world music. They call themselves Ayom, and alongside Brazilian singer Jabu Morales, they are made up of musicians from Angola, Greece, and Italy. Our questions were answered by accordionist and composer Alberto Becucci, guitarist Pedro Bastos João, and of course the charismatic singer and drummer.  more

On Friday, 29 July, at the Folk Holidays in Náměšt’ nad Oslavou, the group L’Alba from Corsica will perform, combining traditional Mediterranean polyphony with the music of many nations, not only from southern Europe. Its album A Principiu, released last March, was voted by the World Music Charts Europe jury as the sixth best album from around the world in 2021. guitarist and vocalist Ghjuvanfrancescu Mattei answers our questions on behalf of L’Alba.  more

This year’s 27th edition of the Concentus Moraviae Festival is history after almost a month of music. The gala closing concert at the Zlín Congress Centre presented a program of songs by Ernest Chausson, Igor Stravinsky, Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss, Leoš Janáček and Antonín Dvořák. Magdalena Kožená, mezzo-soprano and patron of the show, performed as a soloist. She was joined by pianist and conductor Sir Simon Rattle, flutist and this year’s Artist in Residence Kaspar Zehnder, violinist Giovanni Guzzo, violinist Rahel Maria Rilling, violist Amihai Grosz, cellist Dávid Adorján, and clarinettist Christopher Richards. Dvořák’s songs were specially arranged for this ensemble by the English composer and conductor Duncan Ward.  more

This year's 27th edition of the Concentus Moraviae Music Festival is slowly coming to a grand finale as a joint concert by flutist and artist in residence Kaspar Zehnder, mezzo-soprano and patron of the festival Magdalena Kožená, and her husband, pianist and conductor Sir Simon Rattle. On Friday 24 June, at one of the last concerts of the culminating festival, artist-in-residence Kaspar Zehnder, together with his friends Giovanni Guzzo (violin), Rahel Maria Rilling (violin), Amihai Grosz (viola), Dávid Adorján (cello), Wolfgang Klinser (clarinet), and Anaïs Gaudemard (harp), prepared the dramaturgy of Friday's chamber concert in the library of the Náměšť Castle.  more

Nikol Bóková, a native of Ostrava, has long been considered a unique talent in the field of classical music. At the age of nine, she played as a solo pianist with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, and studying at the conservatory and then at the JAMU was a matter of course. But already during her studies of classical music, another of her talents, that of composition, took shape and gradually manifested itself. Together with her trio (Nikol Bóková-piano, Martin Kocián-contrabass, Michal Wierzgoń-drums), she recorded her debut album Inner Place in 2019 and immediately established herself among the Czech (and indeed European) jazz elite. Two more projects followed during the cover – Unravel (2020) for the same named line-up and last year’s Prometheus, recorded with extraordinary commitment by a remarkable studio line-up. Out of this and several subsequent concerts (among others during JazzFest Brno last autumn) crystallized also the quite logical expansion of her trio with the versatile and empathetic guitarist David Dorůžka, the Nikol Bóková Quartet. This line-up was also the birthplace of the latest album Elements, with which a new creative phase opens for Nikol and her partner and co-creator Jan Vala.  more

On 22 June, the Ensemble Opera Diversa visited the atrium of the Faculty of Arts at Masaryk University on Arne Novák Street with the program Dances in the Gardens, which continued the series of outdoor projects started last year. Bassoonist Pavel Horák and marimba player Martin Švec performed as soloists. The concert was conducted by conductor Patrik Červák, who stood in front of the Ensemble Opera Diversa string orchestra for the very first time.  more

Editorial

The Concert for Brno aims to support the construction of an organ for the new concert hall. It will be broadcast live on Czech Television and Czech Radio. The evening will feature violinist Josef Špaček, pianist Ivo Kahánek, the B-Side Band, and legendary opera singer Soňa Červená.  more

The musical Nine Crosses was written especially for the Brno Municipal Theatre. The story tells an old Moravian legend about a tragic act that took place in a small village near Velká Bíteš. The music for the musical was composed by Brno composer Robin Schenk while the script was written by Petr Štěpán and Miroslav Ondra. The world premiere of the new musical will be brought to the stage by director Petr Gazdík.  more

This year the Faculty of Music of the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts (JAMU) is again organising the prestigious International Leoš Janáček Competition in Brno. Young musicians will perform on the piano and organ at the 28th edition of this competition. The final rounds of the organ competition will take place in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and in the Besední dům in the piano competition, accompanied by the Czech Virtuosi Orchestra under the direction of conductor Stanislav Vavřínek.  more

The Actors’ Association published the nominations for the Thalia Awards 2022 today. Several of them were awarded to actors and singers from Brno theatres.  more

Singer Hana Zagorová died today. She was 75. Zagorová came from Ostrava, but her education and early artistic career are closely associated with Brno. From 1965 to 1969 she studied acting at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts.  more

The first year of the international Jewish culture festival ŠTETL FEST 2022 begins on Friday. In its content and scope it will be the biggest Jewish culture festival in the Czech Republic. The festival’s programme will offer lectures, theatre performances, guided tours and several concerts. Some of those performing will be the Avishai Cohen Trio, Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi, Graffe String Quartet or Dominika Weiss Hošková. The festival will close with the Brundibár children’s opera performed by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cantilena choir. The motto of the entire event is “Dignity in Diversity”.  more

The Janáček Opera Company of the National Theatre Brno is calling an audition for a dancer for a role in the preparation of Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow. The NTB will be staging the operetta directed by Magdalena Švecová and Martin Pacek, who will also be doing the choreography.  more

In addition to concerts, the international festival also includes events such as Kateřina Šedá’s Streetless Busking and the Marathon Street Food Festival. The festival’s artist in residence is multi-instrumentalist Anna Fusek. The event will also include a meeting of journalists from the prestigious World Music Charts Europe. The Brno Music Marathon is a key music event for the city of Brno as part of its membership of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for Music.  more

A unique opportunity to play on one stage with such piano personalities as Renata Lichnovská Ardaševová or David Mareček is offered to all pianists, regardless of age and musical background, by a special and extremely popular event of the Brno Music Marathon called PIANOSTAFETA.  more

The multi-genre festival On the Boards, Pavement, and Grass will come of age this year, so the organizers from TIC BRNO have extended it for a whole week. More than 25 theatre performances and concerts can be seen and experienced for free in the open air in the center of Brno.  more