Even in musical life things happen that cannot be heard even though it may seem like nonsense. But before the music resounds, something must be done for it, and in the case of an organ concert, it is mainly necessary to build the organ. In October, we published an interview with Jan Martin Bejček about the fact that there will be a new, high-quality instrument in Brno and now we return to the topic. The reason is simple – the organ is already here.
Leoš Janáček (3. June 185–12.August 1928 Ostrava) awaits his round number anniversary – he will have it in the next Year of Czech Music. The Brno opera deals with it as if unable to sell it to the audience, maybe with disdain, it is hard tell from the outside. The only result is that outside the Janáček Brno festival his work is played seldomly and in poor quality. The warning case was the abhorrently done Cunning Little Vixen as part of the Theatre World festival.
The members of the Brno Philharmonic started to appear among the customers of Vaňkovka (Wannieck shopping gallery) yesterday afternoon. They appeared with their instruments dressed casually, in the uniforms of the gallery personnel or as janitors. The unusual performance of Vltava symphonic poem was led by the chief conductor Aleksandar Marković , while Pavel Šporcl accompanied on violin.
On Saturday, 18 May, the Philharmonic will for the first time add its Besední dům to the Brno Museum Night. Visitors, for whom the viewing of the foyer with its installed exhibition and information material is not enough, will have the opportunity to take an hour-long guided tour of the palace (from 7:00 p.m. every hour): it will lead across the ceremonial staircase into the large hall (talk about the history of the Besední dům and its current function with a mini concert), then through the office of the chief conductor to the directors' lounge (talk about the Philharmonic and another mini concert) and then to the sound room (an ensemble rehearsal room where visitors will hear a third mini concert and can have their questions answered); when leaving they will once again see the hall from the gallery and pass through the small hall (with a bust of Břetislav Bakala) back into the foyer. A musical performance will be performed in the first half of the evening/night - students and choirs of the Smetanova Art School, and then in the second half by the members of the Philharmonic.
If an unknowing foreigner had walked through the centre of Brno at night on Monday, he would have been amazed how lively the city was. A large group of dancing people, who were not led by anyone, radiated the joy of movement and rhythm. Everyone in it was in it for themselves, yet part of a community that came to celebrate the International Day of Dance. It has been celebrated in the world for thirty-one years and it reached us in 2010. This year's part in Brno was initiated and convened by Kateřina Honzírek Hanzlíková, Dash Jiříčková, Jan Ondruška and Michaela Ondrašinová. This included dance improvisation in front of JAMU and in Denisovy sady, dance lessons for children with Kateřina H. Hanzlíková and contemporary dance lessons with Dash Jiříčková in the S lehkou hlavou studio. Probably the most visible part of the celebrations was a dance parade through the city which started at Josefská, circled around the city past the cafés Tungsram and Trojka and through Rašínova they danced all the way to Náměstí Svobody.
The construction of the year 2012 was the Theatre at Orlí. Besides the actual award I was pleased that it was included in Stavby občanské vybavenosti (Community Facilities Buildings). Someone would often say that theatres are slowly transferred into the category “repository of inadaptable minorities”.
To reflect on the oldest history of music in Brno it is perhaps best to go to Moravské náměstí and look at the well-designed relief of the city, capturing its appearance at the time of the Thirty Years War, or imagine Brno in a bird's eye view. Only a few references and names of Brno artists, which remain necessarily discontinuous, have survived from the Middle Ages; therefore it is better to focus on the then key city institutions and their monuments.
When in 1978 the sixty- five years old František Jílek suddenly became the head of the Brno State Philharmonic after the departure of ill Jiří Waldhans, no-one could imagine that under this conductor, non-pompous and rather pragmatic and notoriously famous from opera (a symphonic player is also sensitive to this) – and furthermore at retirement age – the philharmonic would experience the best stage of its existing history. And so it happened – and on one hand it was due to Jílek himself, on the other it was due to the orchestra as well as the chain of historical circumstances; at the moment when František Jílek became the chief conductor of the State Philharmonic, he was the right man, whom the orchestra needed, and on the other hand the philharmonic was the right orchestra for an artist of his calibre and experience.
A blueberry pie smelled wonderfully on the table. The first piece would have nearly vanished into my gut if it had not been for the heart-breaking exclamation from the kitchen: "We are out of maple syrup!" I did not quite understand why the pie is inedible without this sweet sticky fluid; however, I would have hated to talk back to my host. Therefore, we had no choice but to get in the car and go shopping.
I arrived in the Scottish capital smartly equipped with several sweaters. Residents of Edinburgh, who finally got to take out their sleeveless shirts from the dressers after the whole year thanks to the 15°C weather, however, unlike me, believed that the hot summer was just peaking. They collectively gave in to various, incomprehensibly festive moods. Instead of comfortably sitting down for Sunday lunch, numerous families camping out on the lawns of city parks were joyfully spreading orange marmalade on toast, all sorts of street clowns and jokers were competing for the audience's favour against the ever-present pipers. In short, the Scots started to go wild outside and I was warming myself up in my hotel room by reading the fire regulations wrapped in blankets. "Do not run and do not yell if flames burst out," it said wisely. I decided to oust the blasphemous idea that a fire would be warm at least by the nostalgic memory of hot Spanish nights. Smiling at the idea of how I am forbidding a temperamental southerner from being loud, while her pillow is smouldering with her morning coffee instead of a cigarette, I fell asleep happily, unfortunately, not for long.
Last year before Christmas (19 November) it was a hundred and forty years since the birth of Gracian Černušák, today easily forgotten, but in his time he was the most important musical historian, critic, teacher in Brno – as well as an internationally renowned lexicologist, whose legacy quietly and at the same time fully lives as the source of Czech musical historical information. Born in Ptení in Haná, he went through the dramatic first half of the twentieth century as a secondary school teacher, and was exposed to oppression and wrong from the Nazi and Communist authorities; the constant gravitation towards music made him one of the most important musical figures of that time in our country – and especially in Brno.
I share a certain desire of adventure with the French. For example, I am burning with curiosity when I order a local delicacy with my "cute" accent, like marinated legs of the queen of murky waters soaked in the tears of a sad fairy (in a low price level Czech restaurant, this dish would probably be called frogs legs with brown sauce), and they, in the presence of a girl born in one of the countries located to the right of Paris, allegedly inhaling a certain whiff of the exciting eastern atmosphere. I will lose some of my reputation of a woman of steel by claiming that in my country I do not fall asleep to the sound of machine guns and do not drink a litre of vodka a day, however, as soon as my friends find out that the bottle of Bordeaux is empty due to me, I will fix my reputation a little bit. Conversation intertwined with various cheerful board games, such as secret removal of chips from the plate continues in French until I mix up a preposition or gender. Afterwards the native speakers indulgently switch to English, the mutilation of which certainly does not bother them.
Even seemingly stoic Swedes like to have fun. My arrival in Stockholm was reminiscent of a field game that children at scout camps cannot wait for every year. Since I have never experienced a stay in this holiday facility, please, consider the similarity between carrying a 30 kg suitcase and completing the following instructions written by the host on a piece of graph paper, only as my illustrations. "Enter the building through one of the glass doors." (God knows which one, they were all locked.) "Unlock the gatehouse with the fifth key from the right. It is hanging on the hook at the height of your eyes. The keys to the apartment are in the envelope which is in one of the drawers. You will get the code to the front door easily, deduct three from F and multiply the result by the total number of windows." Eventually, I completed the test of independence and overall ability to solve the most common life situations to the level of tasks worthy of the Fort Boyard competition and I found myself in an apartment full of that strange milky light of a Northern night. However, I gushed over this natural phenomenon only until I realised that if I do not manage to fall asleep between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., when the milk turned into something resembling coffee milk in the school cafeteria, sleep will definitely never come because the use of curtains is the same sin for residents of these regions as painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa.
The Brno group Hrozně slowly approach forty years of age – they started to give concerts in 1982. After several cassettes and unofficial recordings, they released a CD with their debut album Už není čas [There Is No Time Left] in 2013. Their new album named Ticho [Silence], which the band was working on over the last two years in the Indies studio, brings a surprise with its cleaner sound and clearly audible tension in the structure of the songs.
Over the four years that divide the release of the first album Záhir, and the second one entitled O Písni [About the Song], Lee Band virtually moved on (previously they stated Adamov as their domicile, now it is Jedovnice), they got on a "wild card" to the Porta festival semifinals in Řevnice, and above all, they advanced slightly in their musical style. While the debut album was more about a folk-rock mainstream, benefiting from the sound of an electric guitar, the new album is dominated by acoustic guitars, often in combination with mandolin and other acoustic instruments.
This year’s eighteenth JazzFest Brno will exceptionally not close with a concert, but rather a unique (though not unusual for world festivals) series of musical and dance workshops, centred on children. On Saturday 4 May, in the pleasant environment of Café Práh, near Vaňkovka, the children students will be taken on board by the significant young personalities of the jazz scene: Beata Hlavenková (pianist and composition lecturer), Dano Šoltis (leader of the drum class) and the multi-instrumentalists Jiří Slavík and Marian Friedl (conductors of Wandering on Jazz Paths), who will be accompanied by Kateřina Hanzlíková with the Tancohraní lectures. With the exception of composition, where it is necessary for the participants to be older than twelve, all the other “classes” are open to everyone, including the youngest. We asked the co-author of the idea of the children’s workshop and director of JazzFest Brno, Vilém Spilka, for further information.
The musical Nine, based on the legendary film 8½ by director Frederico Fellini, was prepared under director Stanislav Moša as the penultimate premiere of the season at the Brno City Theatre. They prepared an at places almost erotic show, led by interesting scenography, well-made costumes, brilliant musical preparation and the energy of the female acting. The sensuality of some of the dance parts thankfully did not overshadow the central theme of the hero’s crises: mid-life, art and relationship.
This year's JazzFestBrno festival had several highlights – of course, it depended on each visitor's personal taste, their expectations, and of course on how many shows they managed to visit. For the author of this article, one of the highlights the evening with bassist Stanley Clark on 23 April, varied in genre and arrangement, as well as the last but one concert of the festival, the performance of "the other" Avishai Cohen in the Husa na provázku Theatre on 28 April. It was a musically pure essence of jazz with a message – imperative, heartbreaking and poetic.
One of the musical highlights of last week was the concert of the Malina Brothers with two unique guest musicians, Kateřina García and Charlie McCoy in the Sono Centre in Brno. And because the performance was recorded on a professional video for the band’s first live DVD, the evening itself was extraordinary both in its length and quality.
Letošní ročník festivalu Jazzfest Brno nabízí nepřeberné množství rozmanitých crossoverů , žánrových směsic a fúzí. V duchu tohoto stylového spektra v rekonstruovaném (akusticky významně vylepšeném) sále Janáčkova divadla nabídl svůj vyhlášený osobitý nadžánrový sound klasik jazz fusion a britský kytarista John McLaughlin se svou formací The 4th Dimension. V Brně se představil vůbec poprvé.
On Palm Sunday a concert with the subtitle Nova et Vetera opened the 28th Easter Festival of Sacred Music with the theme Ceremony/It is Good to Celebrate the Lord. Aside from Gregorian Chant for Holy Week performed by the ensemble Schola Gregoriana Pragensis, which opened yesterday’s concert, there was also the world premiere of So Shall He Descend by the Estonian composer Toivo Tulev as performed by the soprano Ivana Rusko, the mezzosoprano Bettina Schneebeli, tenor Jaroslav Březina, baritone Jiří Hájek, choristers Aneta Bendová Podracka, Jana Vondrů and Pavla Radostová, the choir Ars Brunensis under choirmaster Dan Kalousek and the Brno Philharmonic under the baton of its principal conductor Denis Russell Davies. The work was written to a commission from the festival and was intended for the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul.
This year, the JazzFestBrno festival has expanded its offer to include an "electronic" programme line named Tension. Within that series, the bands Zabelov Group and HRTL Spaghetti Ensemble appeared in the Praha space in Brno on 28 March. However, the two-hour concert, which took place on 5 April in the sold-out Sono Centre, was also ideologically close to this new series. The Manchester-based trio GoGo Penguin perhaps uses an instrumental layout of a jazz piano trio vetted by decades, but still oscillates around electronic music as a starting point in its albums and concerts.
Even though the audience's attention is generally focused on music ensembles that have already been vetted by time, yesterday's concert of the newly formed Camerata Brunensis ensemble in the Historical Hall of the Brno Bishop's Court proved that even young blood can offer a remarkable artistic experience. The concert was programmed in cooperation with the Moravian Regional Museum and the Academy of Early Music at Masaryk University, which the Camerata Brunensis‘ artists attend. The ensemble consists of soprano Veronika Vojířová, who performed for example with ensembles like Collegium Marianum, Collegium Floreum, Capella Regia Prague or Cappella Mariana, and the flutist Michaela Durajová, who could be listened to by audiences with the Orchestral Academy of the Brno Philharmonic, the Moravian Philharmonic Olomouc, the Czech Virtuosi orchestra or with the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Also, the double bassist and violonist Matyáš Berdych regularly appears with important music ensembles such as Musica Florea, Collegium Marianum and Czech Ensemble Baroque. The backbone of the ensemble is formed by the harpsichordist Jan Hajič, who works as a répétiteur for the Prague choir Vagantes, accompanies concerts and master classes at the Prague Conservatory, and works as a backup organist at the Prague Academic Parish under the guidance of Robert Hugo.
Filip Míšek and Ema Brabcová have worked together for as many as twenty years already. They met each other back in 1999 in the group Roe-Deer, as part of which they created their own project called Khoiba. Under this name they released their albums Nice Traps (2004) and Mellow Drama (2007), shone on the domestic scene and drew attention to themselves in neighbouring Germany, but then each of the protagonists set out on their own paths – Filip came up with the solo project Dikolson and Ema was active first in the group Luno and later became part of The Antagonists under the leadership of Jan P. Muchow. Only in January 2019 did the resurrected Khoiba draw attention to itself – first with the single Log and two months later with the album Khoiba. As part of an intensive spring concert the duo is also coming to perform in Brno. The concert will take place in Kabinet múz on 24 April and supporting Khoiba will be Jan Boroš with Čáry života [Life Lines], this year’s winner of the Apollo award.
Each premiere from the Ondráš Military Art Ensemble is an event that sparks great interest from folk fans. It was no different on Thursday in the slightly cramped quarters of the Divadlo Bolka Polívky theatre. The concert carrying the title Through the Landscape of Time had already been sold out a month ahead.
Yesterday’s concert from the Principal Conductor’s series of the Brno Philharmonic presented Yumi Hwang-Williams, concertmaster of the Colorado Symphonic Orchestra, in an intimately conceived programme. Together with the principal conductor of the Brno philharmonic, Dennis Russel Davies, she performed several classical and contemporary works composed for violin and piano. In this, the Brno audience had a chance to see the soloist before she plays tomorrow together with the Brno Philharmonic.
In an almost four-hour long programme, both audience and performers celebrated the 80th birthday of Horňácko folk legend Martin Hrbáč in Veselí nad Moravou. The concert that took place on Sunday 24 March, and was not only historic in its length but more importantly in the range of folk legends appearing on stage.
Greek Saturday at Veveří Castle enters its 9th season. The music scene will be represented by Musica Balkanika, Mydros, Martha and Tena Elefteriadu or Prometheus. In addition, there will be costume dance shows, dance workshops, an exhibition named "The Greeks in the Area of the Danube Monarchy", a theatrical performance and a programme for children. Through this event, the organizers want to convey to the public the cultural traditions and historical ties between Moravia and Greece.
As part of the final concert of the Bach on Mozart! cycle we will hear Baroque music by F. X. Richter in the St. Johns' Church. The Czech Ensemble Baroque will end the 7th season of the cycle with three rediscovered compositions by this distinguished Baroque composer, which have never been played over the last twenty five years. The concert will be conducted by the founder of the ensemble, Roman Válek.
The festival "with no fences and no admission fees" will be held in the Brno Lužánky Park this year as well. Over fifty events will take place on total of five The Stage s over the weekend. The programme includes musical performances, theatrical shows, film screenings, workshops and author readings. The music scene is represented by names such as Arve Henriksen and David Kollar, Dorota Barová and Jiří Šimek, The BladderStones, Brünnwerk or Songs From Utopia.
420 primary artistic schools got involved in this year's ZUŠ Open nationwide happening organized by the Magdalena Kožená Endowment. Children and young artists will spread music, dance, theatre and fine arts in public space. In several places of the Czech Republic, they will also head to retirement homes or nursery and primary schools. The Brno part of this event will be launched by the announcement of the results of the Brno-wide competition This Is a Talent on Dominikánské Square. It will be followed by performances of sixteen primary artistic schools of the city of Brno. The meeting in Brno will be concluded by a performance of the biggest Brno choir, which will be formed for this particular occasion and will sing together Proč bychom se netěšili [Why Should We Not Rejoice], a choral piece from the opera The Bartered Bride by Bedřich Smetana.
For the upcoming summer, the Ondráš Military Art Ensemble is preparing a charity cycle called Evenings with Ondráš. Two evenings at Špilberk Castle will bring a repeated run of their new show, Krajinou času a Ondrášovské putování [Through the Landscape of Time and Wandering with Ondráš] in which the whole ensemble performs. The programme also includes a fairy-tale show for children.
For the first time ever, the artistic ensemble Kafka Band will bring its music and literature performance entitled Amerika to Brno. The project has been inspired by fragments of the unfinished novel of the same name by Franz Kafka. The seven-member line-up of the ensemble, headed by Jaroslav Rudiš and Jaromír Švejdík, will also present twelve brand new compositions in the Fléda music club.
The Schola Artist dance school offers dance classes of various styles under the guidance of professional dancers, champions of the world and of the Czech Republic and certified tutors. Their roster features pole dance, classical ballet, contemporary dance and more. This year, the school will be celebrating its 2nd birthday with a gala evening in the studio on Hybešova Street.
Brno Philharmonic and Free Radicals. The last concert of the Classically and Modernly subscription series
Free Radicals (Böse Zellen) is the title of a piano concerto by Thomas Larcher (1963), which will be played next week in Besední dům in Czech premiere. When composing it, the author was inspired by a film of the same name by the Austrian director Barbara Albert. The concert is conducted by Nicholas Milton. The work of Thomas Larcher will be heard twice, and a meeting with the dramaturge Vítězslav Mikeš will take place before both concerts, introducing the audience to the world of the upcoming compositions.