Zenový čaj is not a band in the traditional sense of the word, but is a changing project in which anyone can participate at any appropriate moment. Half of the permanent members consist of the multi-instrumentalist and didgeridoo player Dalibor Neuwirt and the first album First Flush was made along with several famous musicians on the Czech scene.
The debut of tenor Pavel Černoch in Brno was rather inconspicuous. A part of the children Kantilena is hardly remembered by the audience and the side roles in the Magic Flute are also not world shattering. But that was several years back, Pavel Černoch is a regular part of the world opera scene and he would like to conquer the Metropolitan Opera in major roles. This December he will return to Brno with his first great gala concert of his career.
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).
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.