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.
We landed in Milan. Gentlemen in grey suits (when looking at passengers in the business class, I cannot help but suspect that human cloning has been going on for a long time), nervously putting in the secret codes of leather suitcases and searching for their indispensable boast number two (unlike in the boast number one, the following rule applies: the smaller, the prouder the owner – editor's note: this is no longer true today).
Men say about women that they have a bad sense of direction. I dare to disagree this time. Where there is nothing, it can't be bad. Women generally have no sense of direction. I am a shining example of this. I arrived in Leipzig with a slight delay because the fact that the large blue sign Teplice, advertised at several Prague intersections, does not lead drivers to the highways but it only timidly suggests the approximate direction of a nature trail across the Czech lands, ending probably in one of the cosy pubs of the Teplice area, is beyond my comprehension. (That misty morning, perhaps even the questionable businesses on the border stretch of the E55, where the audience can enjoy an impressionist scene straight out of a Monet painting, looked cosy. To reach perfection, the freezing girls in creative clothes were missing an umbrella of the colour of old rose.)
In the premises of the neo-Gothic Czech Brethren Evangelical Church of J. A. Comenius, on the fifth evening of the Moravian Autumn festival, a performance of sacred music for choir and organ took place. In addition to the choir of the same name, Martinů Voices was also dominated by the organist Linda Sítková and a four-member ensemble of French horns. All this under the direction of choirmaster Lukáš Vasilek.
The third event of this year's Moravian Autumn festival was transferred to a theatre stage. The event was made happen by Terén, which is a platform acting as a third stage of the Centre of Experimental Theatre, right after the Goose on a String and HaDivadlo theatres. And it was on this particular stage of the Goose on a String where the world premiere of a stage production of Oedipus by André Gide took place yesterday. Composer Bohuslav Martinů stands behind its equally important incidental music.
The jubilee 50th Moravian Autumn music festival started yesterday at Bobycentrum in Brno with a concert performance of the minimalist opera Einstein on the Beach by composer Philip Glass and director Robert Wilson. The concert version was created by collaboration of visual artist Germaine Kruip, Suzanne Vega and Ictus Ensemble and Collegium Vocale Gent. Although only the music remained from the previously stage show, the length of the concert itself was comparable with the opera work. Hence, the evening lasted almost four hours.
The National Theatre Brno started its new season yesterday by staging The Tales of Hoffmann, an opéra fantastique by French composer Jacques Offenbach with French libretto written by poet Jules Barbier. Directing was undertaken by the recognized artistic tandem SKUTR, consisting of Martin Kukučka and Lukáš Trpišovský. The title role was presented by Luciano Mastro, his faithful companion Nicklausse (and also the figure of the Muse at the end of the show) was performed by Markéta Cukrová. The roles of Hoffmann's sweethearts Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta and Stella have were performed by Martina Masaryková, Pavla Vykopalová, Daniela Straková-Šedrlová and Andrea Široká. The character of Hoffmann's eternal rival (Lindorf/Coppélius/Miracle/ Dappertutto) was interpreted by Ondrej Mráz. The orchestra was led by Ondrej Olos, the choir by Klára Složilová Roztočilová.
The Brno Philharmonic launched its 64th season yesterday, which is also the second season of its current Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Dennis Russell Davies. Beside him, the leading Russian pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja also stood on the stage of the Brno Stadium. Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 3 in E major and the Czech premiere of the composition DA.MA.SHI.E by the Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi's, connected with animated films of director Hayao Miyazaki, were chosen for the ceremonial start.
The fourteenth season of the Subscription Concert Cycle was launched yesterday evening by the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno with captivating music. A jubilant, almost festive programme was played in the Besední dům, following a performance at the St. Wenceslas Music Festival in Ostrava the previous evening. However, there were faithful and long-time spectators in Brno without whom the entire cycle would lose its meaning.
Yesterday evening at the piazzetta of the Janáček Theatre was marked by a concert to commence the 2019/2020 season of the National Theatre Brno (NdB). Promotion of the event ensured the most important thing for this music evening – hundreds of spectators who filled up the whole place. We should not forget the really wide age range, which is so much needed for future culture, especially at its lower limit (still in strollers).
Only rarely one single song is the main topic for an interview. In the case of the cellist Josef Klíč, the concert master of the National Theatre in Brno, this was offered. It does not happen every day that a Czech composer and his song reach the finals of a worldwide competition. However, there were more reasons for our talk – memories of the late Jaroslav Erik Frič, Josef's contract at the Janáček Theatre and the upcoming new album.
For the opening concert of the 20th anniversary season of the Špilberk Festival yesterday, the Brno Philharmonic chose a dramaturgy consisting of proven as well as lesser-known pieces. The subtitle Romantic Carnival immersed all evening in the carnival spirit associated with celebrations before the carnival opening. The aim of the programme was to characterize the period of merriment, celebrations and masks by compositions that tell with their mood about this period of the year. The almost full-up castle courtyard had the opportunity to enjoy an unpretentious and appealing programme, which also with its lower temperature more easily approached that cold carnival period.
As a UNESCO-listed city of music, Brno has had four festival days full of music and dance. Tens of concerts and performances with hundreds of performers took place at twenty-two music venues. Music in the streets sounded on every corner, but most attention this year was attracted by four rooms by the artist Kateřina Šedá, in which artists of different genres and nationalities took turns. Another attraction was the performances of the British Motionhouse and No Fit State Circus, who repeatedly enchanted the Náměstí Svobody Square with their acrobatic pieces and breathtaking performances. Two large stages were also set up – Dominik Stage on Dominikánské Square and Django Stage on Malinovského Square, on which appeared artists such as Jana Kirschner, Monika Bagárová, minus123minutes or Jan P. Muchow & The Antagonists. Traditionally, the festival was accompanied by the sound of barrel organs whose players met in Brno as part of their 10th international meeting. This year, singer and multi-instrumentalist Tinatin Tsereteli (Hannover) and violinist Nicola Manzan (Bologna) as artists from UNESCO partner cities of music also premiered at the Brno Music Marathon. The atmosphere of the festival is captured in the video below.
Folkové prázdniny [Folk Holidays] in Náměšť nad Oslavou is a festival standing out with its dramaturgy, structure and atmosphere. Every season has its own theme, every evening has its own theme, and even some individual performances have their own themes. The long-time programme director Michal Schmidt managed this year to excellently balance Czech premiéres and truly extraordinary projects with reappearances and sure bets. This year's theme of Folkové prázdniny was About the Soul; however, this week-long event has its soul every year.
The group Nebeztebe (a pun containing both "Not without You" and "Heaven from You) literally shone in the Brno scene a few years ago. The five-member line-up, with its marked rhythms, seemingly above styles, celebrated victory at Porta and headed for the giant multi-genre festivals. Under bandleader Štěpán Hulc seemingly the band went to sleep and only returned this year with a brand new, three-member line-up. The new Nebeztebe is made up of guitar, violin and mandolin and has not given up on taking a multi-genre approach. Once more they are giving concerts and are coming out with the concept album Zásobování duše (which might be translated as Supplying the Soul).
One of the musicians who will appear at Folkové prázdniny [Folk Holidays] in Náměšť nad Oslavou as part of a special programme called Harfy nad Oslavou [Harps upon Oslava], is the Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda. In Náměšť, he will also give a solo recital as part of an evening called O duši s lehkostí i naléhavostí [About Soul with Lightness and Urgency]. In our telephone conversation – we called him to New York where he lives – we talked to Edmar Castañeda, for example, about a harp specially constructed according to his requirements, or about his cooperation with the Czech singer Marta Töpferová.
The Olomouc Baroque Festival has begun. In the local Jesuit Convent the seventh year of the festival opened with the modern premiere of the serenata Il tribunale di Giove by the Austrian composer Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf. The work was first performed at the birthday celebrations for the Prussian King Frederick the Great on 27 January 1775 and after a repeat in Wroclaw in 1777 it fell into oblivion. The Ensemble Damian decided to reverse this unfortunate fate, and led by the ensemble’s artistic director and director Tomáš Hanzlík they attempted to revive the work. Appearing in the solo roles were Leandro Lafont (Fate and Apollo), Kristýna Vylíčilová (the Genius of Europe and Minerva), Lucie Kaňková (Time and Fortune), Monika Jägerová (Jupiter) and Jakub Rousek (Mars). The costumes and backdrops were designed by the director Hanzlík.
The musical Mamma Mia!, which has achieved great success on world stages including Broadway, is heading to Brno. MdB will introduce it under the direction of Petr Gazdík. Donna will be performed by Alena Antalová, Markéta Sedláčková or Ivana Vaňková. Furthermore, Dagmar Křížová, Barbora Remišová or Petra Šimberová. Men's roles will be represented by Martin Havelka, Igor Ondříček or Viktor Skála and many others.
The 23rd Plus 2019 New Music Meeting international music festival is dedicated to contemporary acoustic and electronic music and multimedia projects. This season will be opened by an expert in the interpretation of contemporary music – the Belgian pianist Daan Vandewalle. The festival programme also features a gala concert to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gideon Klein or the Czech premiere of the Force Field multimedia project. The festival is organized by the Music Faculty of JAMU.
Ensemble Opera Diversa is preparing a joint concert with flute player Michaela Koudelková. Works by the authors of the 20th century will be played and the premiere will take place of the composition Quasi lontano, which the ensemble commissioned from Petra Čtveráčková. The concert will take place at the Convent of Merciful Brothers in Brno under the baton of Gabriela Tardonová.
Concerts in the new season 2019/2020 are promising a varied range of genres. For example, Vlasta Redl, who will start the season, will perform as part of the musical evenings at the Brno National Theater. He will be followed by Vladimír Mišík & ETC, Věra Martinová, Anna K., Petr Bende, Bára Zmeková and many others.
Fifteen years ago, the second theater building of the Brno City Theater was opened with ceremonial premieres of the musical Hair. The ensemble had been involved in musical production already since the nineteen-nineties, but at times it bounced the walls of the technical shortcomings of the building. The foundation stones arrived to Brno from Dolní Věstonice and from Broadway, NYC, and were laid on 17 November 2001. The theater is preparing to celebrate the anniversary with two major concerts that will commemorate all the productions presented so far. The celebratory programme is being created under the direction of Igor Ondříček. The progamme will feature stars such as Dušan Vitázek, Markéta Sedláčková, Jana Musilová, Petr Štěpán, Viktória Matušovová, Petr Gazdík and others. The Brno City Theater Orchestra will be conducted by Dan Kalousek.
The premiere of a new programme called Step by Step is dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the military artistic ensemble VUS Ondráš. The programme is inspired by folklore material of Czech, Moravian and Slovak regions. The plot is the story of man from his first precarious steps, through the peak period of vitality, to the stage where his steps lose confidence. Year after year, all of his life. Alžběta Burianová took on the direction. The musical accompaniment was created by Jiří Slavík.