He likes solitude in the middle of nature as well as a city atmosphere; he went on the path from a rock band to a symphonic orchestra. The guest of this year’s Moravian Autumn festival is the Estonian composer Erkki-Sven Tüür. When we were arranging the schedule of the telephone interview, we both forgot to take into consideration the different time zones and nearly missed each other. But in the end we found one other - after all everything is connected nowadays, as he too mentioned.
The Janáček Theatre will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary on Friday by performing the premiere of Leoš Janáček’s opera Jenufa. The director of the performance is the current director of the National Theatre Brno – Martin Glaser. We spoke together about his production as well as the changes the theatre has gone through under his management and where the festivals Theatre World and Janáček Brno were heading.
The need for a new symphonic and cantate concert hall in Brno is first mentioned in a dictionary of music by Pazdírek in 1929. Since that time this issue has come to the surface in more frequent intervals, fuelled by the existence and needs of the philharmonic orchestra, by the growth and requirements of the symphonic audience and also by the expectations of foreign visitors of Janáček’s city. There were different stages of realization of projects at Žerotínovo square (currently Bílý dům), Joliot Curie square (what is now the last section of Šumavská street with the commercial high rises), Obránců míru street (currently the ombudsman’s palace on Údolní street) and – at the turn of the 1980s and 1990s – the undeveloped area between Besední and Veselá street. The quiet struggle, which has taken place for this especially lucrative and exceptionally advantageous place for a philharmonic orchestra, has recently come to a promising outcome.
Looking at the daily schedule of Zdeněk Pololáník, one cannot tell that he will be eighty in October. Just last Sunday, he performed at a mass in the morning, inspected the performance of his opera Noc plná světla: transparent none repeat scroll in Olomouc in the afternoon and played at a concert in Besední dům in Brno in the evening. His music is well known to concert visitors and movie fans; some of his songs are sung at churches. This year’s Brno Organ Festival is devoted to his jubilee. We met in the village of Ostrovačice where he works and plays the organ at the local church.
Talking to music veterans about music is entertaining and painful at the same time. You learn things you had no idea about but, at the same time, you don’t know where to start and how to wrap up. The topics covered are growing and you feel like it would be a shame to shape the interview. An interview with the legend of Czech jazz Jan Dalecký confirmed this one hundred percent. If the name confuses you, he was formerly known as Jan Beránek. I did ask about the change, by the way.
This week Janáček Theatre in Brno will see the farewell performance by the prima ballerina of the Brno National Theatre Jana Přibylová. It is going to be her night, with the support of her fans and colleagues. However, she says she should bow for them. We discussed the end of her career, new beginnings and a dancer’s free time. We talked about how unfair it is that dancers’ careers are so short or the fact that she has never really left Brno. As we were leaving the café in the theatre building, there was a big photo of her teacher and mentor Kateřina Gratzerová.
At the end of this week a new organ will be consecrated in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (the so-called Jesuit church). It is an organ dedicated to Brno. The audience will be able to listen to it for the first time on 29 June. A few days later, it will be incorporated into another important event – a concert by Alena Veselá on the occasion of her 91st birthday. We met in Slavia café, on neutral ground between the Faculty of Music of the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing arts and the Besední dům concert hall. We discussed the organ, the concert hall in Brno and cultural grants.
The biggest problems are those we find closest to us. This applies to cities just as it does to people. The area between the streets Cejl and Francouzská is widely considered to be the most dangerous and the most problematic part of Brno. It is, in fact, a small area which one can cover on foot within just twenty minutes. Or thirty, if one walks really slowly. In our eyes, it has gradually become a major problem we refer to as the Brno Bronx. Many Roma live there and if you go there at night you may never walk again. Why do people think so? What are the local people like and why does this part of Brno host the Ghettofest festival? I sought answers from the co-organiser of the festival Alica Heráková.
Ten years ago a Pan-European project entitled České sny (Czech Dreams) was born. It was based on the ideas of the International Music Festival of thirteen cities, bringing superb musical performances outside established cultural centres. The creators’ idea was to introduce concerts with unified dramaturgy in selected Czech towns and villages and their respective European twin towns. This year’s domestic part of Czech Dreams will be launched on 22 May, moving abroad on 4 July, when the symbolic flag of the festival will be handed over from Břeclav to Trnava. The manager of the festival Zdenka Kachlová discusses the development of Czech Dreams and its future.
The first impulse for the interview with the basso Richard Novák was this year’s Easter Festival of Sacred Music. We started and finished the interview with it. Try talking about this year with a man who has been a singer for sixty years. Richard Novák will be 83 this year but he still has it. And if based on the following words he may sound a bit conceited, be aware he is telling it like it is.
We met in an apartment where Jaromír Nečas has lived since 1946. The music writer and director, folklorist and teacher who discovered world music by accident recently celebrated his 92nd birthday. At the age of six, he was hospitalised in Uherské Hradiště with bone marrow irritation and the prognosis was so bleak he even received his last rites. His fellow patients, a poacher from Znorovy and a winemaker from Petrov would pass glasses of wine back and forth across the bed with the sick boy. Occasionally they would offer him some wine. He claims that was what eventually saved him. By the way, a bottle of traminer was present at our interview. Actually, it was not really an interview but rather story telling or a series of associations which I bumped forward every now and then. We were surrounded by a piano, a few folk instruments and mountains of sheet music and books.
Guitarist Peter Bernstein will arrive at this year's JazzFestBrno Festival in a trio with Larry Goldings and Bill Stewart. The New York Times referred to them in the 1990s as the best organ trio, and the player level as well as the inventiveness of the ensemble is still as high. Together, they released eight albums and one DVD. Peter Bernstein is among the musicians who were in the "front line" of contemporary jazz in the 1990s. Joshua Redman, Diana Krall, Jimmy Cobb, Joe Lovano and, of course, members of the trio that we will hear in Brno in April were among his colleagues. Our conversation also mainly focused on his "home" band, even though I did not forget to ask about Brad Mehldau, with whom Peter Bernstein often played.
Barbara Maria Willi is an excellent cembalist, organist and educator. She is one of the dramaturges of the Concentus Moraviae festival and she is also working on her own series of old music. There are many things we could talk about, which is why we agreed at the beginning that we shall talk about two of them. First, the 11th Barbara Maria Willi uvádí (Barbara Maria Willi Presents…) scheduled for next week. And second, the expansion of the Department of Organ and Historic Interpretation at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU).
A very interesting building is growing before our eyes on Veveří (street). Once completed, it will be known as Sono Center, a club with superb acoustic properties. The concert hall will be located in a sphere placed between two semicircular concrete blocks. The two blocks will house facilities for musicians, as well as a hotel and a restaurant. We sat down with the dramaturge of Sono Centre Dan Giač and the investor of this project Jiří Štopl to discuss the upcoming programme, the ideal line-up or the very reason why Štopl decided to build the center, as he is also the co-owner of the Sono Records studio. The two gentlemen did not have time to do this interview together but they were okay with my postproduction mixing.
Singer Vojtěch Dyk and the Brno B-Side Band, led by Josef Buchta, have had just completed a short dream tour. Last week, they had five joint concerts with American Kurt Elling, Grammy winner, rightly regarded as one of the best jazz singers of today. The following interviews took place in the Janáček Theatre on Wednesday, 4th of December. The orchestra had played a sold-out concert at the Mahen Theatre on Tuesday and it had just finished an afternoon rehearsal in the Janáček Theatre. About two hours were left until the next sold-out concert…
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.