Valášek Bids Farewell

22 September 2020, 2:00
Valášek Bids Farewell

Let us hope that Sunday's concert to mark the fifteenth anniversary of the great music band of the Brno-based Valášek Children's Ethnographic Ensemble (Dětský národopisný soubor Valášek) will not be the last event that ever-changing government regulations will allow. And even if that, God forbid, was the case, it would be a dignified farewell.

The performance of the so-called 'great music band' took place in the legendary premises of the Kinokavárna ('Cinema Café') in Brno's Černá Pole district. The room was pleasantly filled with spectators; you could sense satisfied smiles under their facemasks. It was no different for me either. The music is well coordinated after all those years together; it is led by the first violinist Michal Mikulka, who was present at its origins fifteen years ago. Some of the musicians, before they started playing, had joined Valášek in Brno as children as dancers. Hence, some of them have been active here for almost twenty years. Their heartfelt relationship with this ensemble was obvious throughout the concert and created a lovely and friendly atmosphere in the room. 

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During the evening original songs and arrangements of folk songs were performed, written by the leader of the band Pavel Trkan, who you may also know as a long-time double-bassist of BROLN. His manuscript was clearly legible and Valášek's musicians are obviously in tune with it. Members of the band chose the playlist for the concert by themselves from more than two hundred shows that they had played with Valášek. The popular Švercovské ('Smugglers' Songs') appeared, the original composition Ovečky ('Little Sheep') which at some points has almost Balkan touches, and the cycle Za vodú, za vodú ('Over the River'),  in which all members of the band presented themselves as vocalists.  Both solo and especially choral singing is a very strong side of this dulcimer band. The gentlemen, despite their youth, have strong and resounding voices.

Several female singers also appeared in turn on the stage. One of them was the flutist of the band, Aneta Imrichová. She sang, for example, in a successful duet with former ensemble member Kateřina Šebelová, whom Valášek invited from VUS Ondráš, where she currently performs. Former bandleader Michaela Fantová sang a slow emotional song V hoře pěkná jedlica ('A Nice Fir in the Wood'). The resident singer of Valášek's great music band is Barbora Nekudová, who with her gentle voice forms a pleasant counterpart to the rest of the line-up. This was clearly audible, for example, in the cycle called Škádlivé ('Teasing').

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For me, it is always slightly disturbing when a dulcimer band plays music from scores. After all, the liveliness of the folk song itself is somewhat lost in this way. On the other hand, I understand and respect that when playing more complex arrangements, it is the better option for similar concerts. Concerning the evening, I would also like to highlight the presenting skills of the ensemble's dancer Vít Pavelka, who not only amused the audience with his dry humour, but also communicated everything that was needed.

During the fifteen years it has been active on the Brno scene, the band has become well-known and popular. Most of its members are already embarking on musical careers also in other bands. This was probably one of the reasons why they announced the end of their activity at this concert. However, this is not a reason for sadness. Part of the band can be heard in LH Za oponou ('Behind the Curtain folklore band'), still under the baton of Michal Mikulka. You have certainly seen the talented double-bassist Michal Uhříček accompanied by other excellent musicians in the ensemble Musica Folklorica.

I certainly was not the only one who realised during Sunday's concert that Brno's Valášek has raised another generation of great musicians who can pass on their art and feeling for a folk song. And this is the best motto that the leaders of a folklore ensemble can wish for.

Photo by Marie Hvozdecká

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