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.)
Does it also regularly happen to you that you forget to pack an umbrella in your suitcase? And if you somehow accidentally take it, it hangs in the hotel on a hanger the whole time or you are sure to forget it in the very first restaurant? I am really not jealous of your stay in Amsterdam under these conditions. You will get wet, several times a day. And your "guaranteed waterproof" jacket fails you again, your hair gets flat and when you pull out important documents from the bag, you can just turn them into paper planes. Do not attempt to defy today's unfavourable horoscope, make astrologers happy, cross the white line into the bike lane (don’t worry, you can do it easily, because it takes up about three quarters of all pavements), and let yourself be voluntarily knocked down by a young self-assertive man in a nice suit. (From the basket attached to the front of the bike, at best a dog, at worst the latest fashion craze – a pet rat – will be probably surprised at your awkwardness.)
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 Slunce [Sun] Festival in Strážnice will be held for the twentieth time this year. Especially lovers of folk music and classical big beat have marked the dates of 12th and 13th July in their calendars. We talked to the director of the Slunce Festival Pavel Kopřiva about the history of the festival, its top moments and hardships, as well as what this year's festival season will be like.
The end of the first school-holiday week was carried in the spirit of celebrations. The 7th of July in fact falls on the birthday of Alena Veselá, a prominent Brno organist and a professor at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU), who celebrated an impressive age of 96 years on that day. The concert, organised particularly for this jubilee, was also the final event of the 39th Brno Organ Festival and as a celebration of the birthday of its founder (and now patron of the whole show), it already has a strong position in the festival programme.
Last weekend, the 74th Strážnice International Folklore Festival 2019 as well as the 37th Strážnice Children's Folklore Festival were held in the South Moravian Mecca of folklore. The biggest folklore festival in the Czech Republic enjoys great interest and it wasn't any different this year either, despite tropical temperatures, with tens of thousands of people coming back to Strážnice again.
On the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet Jiří Orten, the company ProArt prepared a multi-genre project called Ohnice – Where the Wind Is Dancing in the former Brno penitentiary on Cejl Street. The poetic production with verses of the young poet, which reflected his hard and short life, was premiered on 25 June.
The twenty-fourth season of the Concentus Moraviae international music festival came to an end after almost a month of rich musical experiences. Musical works, thematically labelled as the Concert of Nations, guided the festival visitors around thirteen picturesque Moravian towns and gave them a taste of key musical works of (not only) European nations. All this was moreover served in the interpretation of more than twenty world-famous ensembles. With the conscious transnational, cross-border concept overreaching the Czech border, the festival organizers chose the Golden Hall of the renowned Musikverein Concert House as a suitable venue for the closing evening. The extraordinary finals of the 24th season opened thus a series of Concerts of Czech-Austrian Partnership and at the same time announced the celebration of the festival's quarter of a century to be celebrated next year. In accordance with this symbolic overture of the concert, the main star of the festival was the patron of the festival and famous singer Magdalena Kožená, accompanied by the no less famous Collegium 1704 orchestra led by Václav Luks.
One of the biggest promises of the 24th Concentus Moraviae international festival was yesterday’s concert of the legendary Borodin Quartet, whose unique sound is the result not only of hard work but also collaboration with the composer Dmitri Shostakovich. This personal and interpretive trail still influences the group and is passed on to each new member. The programme took place in the library of the castle in Náměšť nad Oslavou , where in the 18th and 19th centuries it was the residence music-loving Haugwitz family. The music of Sergei Prokofiev, Joseph Haydn and Dmitri Shostakovich could be heard by the audience in a venue that was more than merely dignified.
In the summer months Špilberk Castle’s courtyard often resounds to the sound of music. Until September it is possible to combine a tour of the castle with a cultural experience. The organizers have tried to prepare a programme across genres that has something for everyone. Yesterday it was the turn of folk music. Despite the adverse weather the stage was dominated by the Military Art Ensemble Ondráš.
The last premiere of the Brno opera season for the first time ever and rather unusually combined two works. The Janáček Theatre presented the surrealist opera Three Fragments of Juliette by Bohuslav Martinů along with the small opera work The Human Voice by Francis Poulenc. The composed evening, with direction and stage design by David Radok, brought together two almost absurd worlds. And this connection was indeed remarkable dramaturgically, visually but also interpretatively.
The Polish ensemble Szymanowski Quartet at the Concentus Moraviae Festival presented works by their compatriots Karol Szymanowski, Stanisław Moniuszko and Gražyna Bacewicz in the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Řeznovice yesterday. The concert was part of worldwide celebrations of the two-hundredth anniversary of birth of Stanisław Moniuszko, which is considered by many to be the founder of Polish national music. The evening was held under the auspices of the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the Czech Republic, HE Barbara Ćwioro.
Visitors to concerts meet quite often with quartet compositions written by masters of European music. Haydn's string quartets are perennial stars in the repertoire of a number of ensembles and attention is also paid to works of contemporary European composers. Only exceptionally, however, can listeners take a peek into the musical cuisine of Asian or South American nations. Cuarteto Q-Arte decided to fill this blank space and dedicated itself to the works of Latin American authors. The programme, which they presented yesterday at the chateau in Slavkov u Brna (Austerlitz), consisted of works by Silvestre Revueltas, Alberto Ginastera and Astor Piazzolla. All these three composers combine elements of domestic culture with European training and influences or impulses of different genres.
Why be one of the many average bands when we can be a unique band? The ten-year history of the Brno group Kupodivu could be squeezed into this motto. In 2009, saxophonist Jaroslav Pilný and keyboard player Petr Šašinka first talked about forming a band. In 2019, the band Kupodivu [Surprisingly Enough] is releasing its first full-length album. Exactly in the middle of this ten-year period, in 2014, an important change took place when the original folk band was transformed into an interesting shape with keyboards, saxophone and bass, but without a guitar. The line-up, which resembles rather jazz bands in recent years, has scored at a lot of folk festivals in recent years. Kupodivu won the Porta award for authors, the Rada Notování [Council of Notation] award, won the Moravský vrabec [Moravian Sparrow], and won second place at the Mohelnický dostavník [Mohelnice Stagecoach]. At all these venues they performed music that rather than campfires fits into city clubs, and by far not only folk ones. The album Živočišné pudy [Animal Instincts] summarizes the band's work so far in a dignified way, underlined by the quality sound from the Zlín Studio V.
The Jerusalem Quartet is one of the world's leading quartet performers for many years and is currently one of the most cited chamber music ensembles. At the Concentus Moraviae festival, violinists Alexander Pavlovsky, Sergei Bresler, violist Ori Kam and cellist Kyril Zlotnikov performed in the Great Chateau of Mikulov Castle with a programme stretching in time from Joseph Haydn up to Béla Bartók. The concert was held under the auspices of the Israeli Ambassador to the Czech Republic, HE Daniel Meron.
Man does not live by classical music alone, as the Epoque Quartet, consisting of violinists David Pokorný, Vladimír Klánský, violist Vladimír Kroupa and cellist Vít Petrášek has been convincing us for twenty years already. For their Saturday concert, staged as part of the Concentus Moraviae festival, which took place in the foyer of the Pasáž theatre in Třebíč, the musicians also invited bass clarinettist Petr Valášek, pianist Karel Košárek and percussionist Oleg Sokolov. The programme of the evening consisted entirely of works by contemporary authors flirting in their compositions not only with musical minimalism, but also with jazz and other popular genres.
Znojmo Music Festival enters its 15th season this year. The programme includes concerts, opera performances, gastronomy and a programme for children. The opening concert, performed by the patron of the festival Pavel Šporcl and the PKF - Prague Philharmonia under the baton of Derek Gleeson, is dedicated to the reminder of the fall of the Iron Curtain. The culmination of the festival is the premiere of the scenic oratorio Saul by G. F. Handel. The title roles will be performed by Andreas Scholl and Adam Plachetka. The show will be directed by Tomáš Pilař.
The 165th anniversary of the birth of Leoš Janáček falls on today, Wednesday 3 July 2019. Janáček is one of our opera composers most frequently played abroad. TIC Brno dedicated a tram to him for his birthday this year, with the main characters from his operas graphically rendered by Brno artist Vendulka Chalánková. Janáček also has his own website, an educational trail, a memorial and an opera festival.
The autumn program of the Fléda music club in Brno contains big names of the music world. The August visit of Jon Hopkins', who will appear at the Brno Marathon of Music festival is already at its imaginary beginning. The autumn season officially opens with a September dance party featuring GusGus from Iceland. This will be followed by concerts of Hooverphonic with a new singer, Jan Blomqvist & Band with their complete Disconnected project or the Berlin legend DJ Hell with his Zukunftmusic composition. Rockers De Staat will bring their novelty titled The Bubble Gum, Movits! their most hip-hop record so far – the double album V, Kadebostany in turn will bring their album Monumental. Last but not least, Vitalic with Rebeka Warrior will also be featured presenting their KCompromat project.
The album collects folklore tunes and songs from the Moravian meadows. After several years of work on the Anthology of Moravian Folk Music, the Indies Scope label decided to continue with a new series of folklore recordings called Malovaná truhla [Painted Chest]. One of them is the album Kosecké písně [Mowers' Songs]. The album features Kubíci dulcimer music band from Horňácko, Women's Choir of Hrubá Vrbka, Chotár male choir from Horňácko and others.
Traditionally, the beginning of the summer holidays is accompanied by the festival Boskovice – for the Jewish Quarter. This year's 27th edition will be launched by the Les Bubbey Mayse quartet from France, inspired by Klezmer and traditional Yiddish songs. The musical program also features concerts of bands such as Neurobeat, Khoiba, Kittchen & Aid Kid with Tomáš Neuwerth or Panenské plameny.
The Kamenka Open multi-genre festival will revive the meadow in the Kamenná kolonie neighbourhood in Brno for the tenth time already. This year's guests include Funky Pappa, Jamiroquai Tribute Band and Pleasure Portable. Theatres will be represented by the Hysterie Theatre, Koráb Theatre or the Bez Pravidel Theatre.