The Torso of Horňácké Festivities Was Divided into Two Successful Musical Events

31 July 2020, 1:00
The Torso of Horňácké Festivities Was Divided into Two Successful Musical Events

The municipal council of Velká nad Veličkou decided already in mid-April that this year's Horňácké Festivities (original name: Horňácké slavnosti) would not take place on the traditional dates around the feast of St. Mary Magdalene, and their scope, previously meant to be of three to five days, would also be modified. Obviously, it was impossible to foresee the development of lockdown measures towards the third week of July, but musicians from the Horňácko district tried to come up with at least a partial alternative solution in order to maintain continuity. Eventually, two concerts were officially held on two consecutive Saturdays:  On 18 July,  live broadcast of a public radio recording of Czech Radio Brno under the title Hrajte že ně, hrajte aneb Horňácké trochu jinak (Play for Me, or Horňácké Festivities in a Slightly Different Fashion) took place at the Culture House in Velká nad Veličkou. A week later, at a sports complex in Javorník, a traditional competition for "the biggest expert on Horňácko peasant songs" was held under the auspices of the Horňácko Dulcimer Band of Libor Sup. Needless to say, both events have found their spectators and listeners.

This year's improvisation may have seemed a pleasant change to those who are a bit tired of  the usual multi-thousand crowds of visitors to the traditional Horňácké Festivities on the main and sideline programmes and usually come only for the more modest and "family-friendly" Sunday programme around the windmill (nicknamed "the fan") in Kuželov. The show at the Culture House was limited by the capacity of the venue, Supí škrek ("Vulture Scream") moved outdoors from the Cylinder Mill in Velká to the Javorník football playground. At both venues, there was something to eat and drink available, there were opportunities to hang out with friends and especially the opportunity to look and listen.

Both options – i.e. listening and visual participation – were also provided by Czech Radio during the public recording, which also enabled listeners to watch the in-time stream on its website and on the YouTube channel Koncerty Českého rozhlasu (Concerts of Czech Radio). The transmission was hosted by Jaroslav Kneisl, editor of the music section of Radio Brno (a Wallachian by origin, for which also "signed" with his costume), who did not pretend to have a deep knowledge of the Horňácko context  and as a "prespolan" ("foreigner") commented on the programme modestly and sensibly, in a staged mock dispute with a couple of local residents. The more than two-hour programme alternated between dance, music and singing ensembles of the Lipovjan Folklore Ensemble, Kuželovjan Folklore Ensemble, Velička Folklore Ensemble, and Folklore Ensemble from Suchov. A series of Horňácko music bands was launched by a performance of Horňácko Dulcimer Band of Petr Galečka from Lipov, after which in rapid succession appeared the revived Horňácko Dulcimer Band of Jarek Miškeřík with its bandleader  Jan Kománek and singer Martin Prachař, the youthful Horňácko Dulcimer Band of Marek Potěšil from Lipov, the Kubíci Horňácko Dulcimer Band from Velká nad Veličkou as well as young girls' Horňácko Dulcimer Band Velické Trnečky. A number of local singing choirs of various age categories performed – ranging from experienced singers of both Male and Female Choir from Velká nad Veličkou and Men's Choir from Lipov, the Female Choir from Javorník adhering to the legacy of Anička Kománková,  followed by the Lipov female choir Sboreček žen z Lipova and the Kuželovské zpěvulky Girls' Choir. The limited time was supported by rapid alternation of bands, ensembles and soloists at the microphone and general compactness of the entire programme, which a feature generally unprecedented at the traditional Horňácké Festivities. The programme, directed by Irena Mikesková, was successfully completed by a parade of all the performers and joint singing of the Horňácko peasant song Ej, na tom našem díle štyri koně bílé (Hey, Four White Horses on Our Field) and the final joint recruitment dance. The evening did not end there, however, and bands continued to play in a number of local pubs ; music continued to be played for a long time and until late.              

A week later , the traditional part of the Horňácké slavnosti programme, specifically the "singing competition for the biggest expert on Horňácko peasant songs", organised under the auspices and direction of Horňácko Dulcimer Band of Libor Sup and named Supí škrek (Vulture Scream) after it, moved from the historic but very cramped courtyard of the Cylinder Mill in Velká nad Veličkou to a spacious sports complex in Javorník. The Javornické zpívání singing festival, which traditionally takes place on the local green lawn of the football playground at the beginning of July, was replaced by an almost "sports" competition of singers with the strongest voices and with the best knowledge and memory. The terms of the composition insist on several "permitted" tonalities (which for untrained singers, limited in addition by nervousness, is normally the most common reason for being disqualified) and on originality: the presented melody of a Horňácko peasant song must be featured for the first time on that day (not even a change in lyrics is allowed) and must conform to the prescribed theme. In disputed cases decided, members of the band and the listeners with spectators have to decide, which is cheerfully enjoyed and closely monitored by numerous clans of supporters of individual competitors. Initially, the competitors are divided into two teams, which the captains (this year Karel Fajmon and Jakub Šácha) gradually chose. The topics were eventually chosen and the winners of each round subsequently scored points. After exhausting ten thematic areas (peasant songs starting with the letter A, starting with the word "ked" or "gdyž", containing ponies or horses, songs about a "goralka" and "goralenka" (two possible names for a mountain girl), about fish and small fish, a great topic of crafts and craftsmen, a gloomy one about death and dying, a joyful one about wedding and getting married), when individual teams were sometimes saved by the readiness of singers (funny change of incipit – sound constants "tryndy-ryndy" replaced by "ryby-ryby" by Karel Fajmon in the peasant song Tryndy ryndy na ulici stála (Tryndy Ryndy, She Stood in the Street), the result was a tie, so it had to be decided in the eleventh round with the theme "peasant songs about metals – gold, silver, iron and others". In a tough battle, the team of Kuba Šácha won and five semi-finalists reached the finals after a break ; they represented various age categories, each of them with an original voice and performance expression. In the battle, which was open and entertaining for listeners,  Jakub Šácha (second violist and vocal soloist of the Kubíci Horňácko Dulcimer Band) and Jan Kružica from Velká nad Veličkou (a renowned multi-genre vocal soloist , among others member of the Chotár Horňácko Male Choir and the Horňácko Male Choir from Velká nad Veličkou) fought their way to the finals. The final race for a five-litre carboy of the Hornácko "goralka" spirit had two winners in the end, and it didn't matter if it was Kružica or Šácha. When the twilight came, all the competitors sang together under the afterglow, and together with them about three hundred spectators present. This was followed by a dulcimer show with the Horňácko Dulcimer Band of Libor Sup, which was the organiser of the event and managed it admirably.               

The Horňácko Festivities were transformed into two less spectacular but successful events. Hopefully, next year they will no longer be limited by anything.


Photo by Helena Bretfeldová



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