Hrubá Hudba I. – On the Way to "Horňácko Oratorio"

22 April 2020, 1:00

Hrubá Hudba I. – On the Way to

The double album Hrubá Hudba, which was jointly created by producer Jiří Hradil (Lesní zvěř, Tata Bojs, Kafka Band and others) and the Horňácká muzika band of Petr Mička, is an extraordinary musical achievement that puts together genuine Horňácko singing (the CD Hlasy starého světa [Voices of the Old World]) and folklore shifted to modern musical expression (the CD Hrubá hudba [Rough Music]). In an extensive two-part interview, we talked to the two fathers of the project, Jiří Hradil and Petr Mička, about their long-term cooperation, their path to Hrubá Hudba and finally about the double album itself and the possible continuation of the project.

Do you still remember when and where the two of you met for the first time?

JH: It was at a club at the Mahen Theatre. We were preparing the first record of the Lesní zvěř group at that time and I wanted to invite some people from the Horňácko district to join in as guests. My fellow player Miloš Rejsek knew Petr Mička because they had both studied ethnology at the Faculty of Arts. So he arranged a meeting at the Mahen Theatre, where Petr and his band played Gazdina roba live, directed by Břetislav Rychlík.

Why did you want "some people from Horňácko" in particular to appear on the album?

JH: I studied musicology, and specifically ethnomusicology was taught to us by Professor Dušan Holý, coincidentally a great Horňácko singer and populariser of Horňácko. He made us listen to some recordings and advised us to come to the Horňácké slavnosti festival if we wanted to form our own opinion. So I went to the Horňácké slavnosti for the first time in 1997 and was completely overwhelmed by something that I hadn't known until then. It was not about the fact that it was folklore, but rather about what was behind the tones and somewhere inside. So I secretly dreamed of working with this music sometime in the future, but I didn't dare say it out loud for years. I still have a lot of respect for the Horňácko people, so at the time I guessed that they wouldn't want to just mess around with someone. It wasn't until 2008 that time came and I thought I'd give it a try. So we contacted Petr and he said that they did not deal with such fusions, that they did not want to do a "Čechomor" (a renowned Czech fusion band – translator’s note) and that they did not need it for anything. I objected that Lesní zvěř [Forest Game] was something else, that it was something like alternative jazz. And I sent him the songs Hostýn, Frank Frank and Turzovka. Petr listened to them and surprisingly said that it could work…

Petr, you grew up with folklore. Do you remember the moment when you began to realise that you actually came from an exceptional environment?

PM: Hard to say. When a person grows up in it, it does seem something special to him. I've always been surrounded by folklore. We used to sing at weddings, celebrations, pig-slaughterings… When the family got together, it always ended up with singing and drinking. As children, my brother and I also sang and played in school music ensembles. The key moment was probably at high school or maybe even later, when I started studying ethnology. When I already had an insight into history, facts and contexts, I realised what kind of folk musicians had performed before us, the continuity in all that, the enormous wealth of songs we have here. Horňácko offers something extraordinary in terms of musical folklore. Today therefore I have great respect for it.

hruba_hudba_booklet_Marek EhrenbergerBy Marek Ehrenberger

In your case what made you decide to say yes to collaboration with Jura?

PM: As a band, we only once "submerged" in an inter-genre connection with the metal band Sad Harmony, which invited us to appear in a ballad. Until then, nothing. When I listened to the samples Jura had sent me, I thought it wasn't bad and that we could give it a try. We approached the offer very carefully, but we tried not to fall for it. On the other hand, we were curious as to what it would turn out like. So we were careful, but in the end I'm glad Jura came up with that offer.

What was actually the goal of that first collaboration? To play together, side by side, face to face…?

JH: I was thinking of how to make a record with a Horňácko band for the first time. It occurred to me that it would be comfortable for them not to have to travel anywhere, but I would come to them and adapt to their time availability. They didn't have to learn anything in advance and get stressed in any way. We recorded on a Sunday morning at the municipal office in Kozojídky. We only had two pairs of headphones available, I took one myself and gave the other to Petr. The principle was that "ethnic musicians" would play their own way into something completely different, something that has no rich harmony, in order not to confuse them and not to make it gibberish, but something that has a certain hymnic nature inside. I wanted them to play as they normally play together. At the time I invented this model and later on developed it in Hrubá Hudba. That's when I made them listen to the song Hostýn. Petr, who heard it on headphones, started playing and his fellow players gradually joined in. I thus obtained about seven minutes of music. Then we gave it a second and a third try and followed up with the songs Frank Frank, Dusty Roads and Turzovka. I brought the resulting material home. I listened to the recording of Hostýn and thought that it was so good that I would leave as it was from beginning to end. I didn't have the necessary distance from it. Fortunately, there was Miloš Rejsek, who told me that if I did that, he would quit the band. Then I worked on it all night and in the end I used only about a third of the recording of the Horňácko band. But I'm very happy that the boys put it down so well in their home environment at the time.

PM: It was improvisation. We only had some fixed points, their rhythmic and harmonic features, but nothing was said, no harmony was written down. I started modulating what I picked up through headphones, and the guys joined in as is usual for our band. They played following in my footsteps, and something came out of it that Jura then used. By the way, he had sent us the songs before the recording, but I must admit that we didn't get to listen to them, let alone studying the songs before the recording session. (laughter)

JH: I think in this way we created the right concept to keep the authenticity of folk musicians as pure as possible. They play into something else, but they still play as themselves. They don't play Horňácko music directly, but the skids and tones, and the harmonies, are still there. They are strongly connected to each other, so it all fits together. Similarly, on Hrubá Hudba, they improvise into the final part of the song Hora, miłá hora [Mountain, Lovely Mountain]. It is the most beautiful film music I know. It's a sound I wouldn't have come up with as a composer. Today we already know the principle and we also use it at concerts.

hruba_hudba_foto_roman_franc_01

Ten years have passed between the first record of Lesní zvěř we talked about and the double album Hrubá Hudba. What was happening in the meantime?

JH: After that first album, we played several joint concerts, including at the Colours of Ostrava festival. Then we were approached by director Jiří Šindar, who shot the documentary Slovácká suita based on the eponymous composition by Vítězslav Novák. He assigned each movement of the suite to a different artist for elaboration and also asked me if I would prepare something, together with the Horňácko people and with Lesní zvěř, for the fifth movement entitled V noci [In the Night]. So we did just that and it gave me the courage to create something I called Horňácké oratorium for myself. I didn't have a specific idea, I just knew that I would somehow work with the Horňácko music, that I would add some interludes and codas to it and rearrange it… It started to ripen in my head until I told the boys that I would like to have some of my hypotheses confirmed with their help. I wanted to find out if I could infiltrate something into Horňácko music, if I could fuse it with electronica and the like. I knew the line was thin and it could slip into kitsch or pompousness. But I had never heard anything like it in this country before. I'd originally had an extreme project in my head - hallucinogenic things. But the more I immersed myself in it, the clearer it became to me that it was necessary to grasp it differently, simply because similar fusions do not exist in this country at all. Horňácko is perhaps the last place in this country where such authentic folk music lives and that is why it deserves giving a try to something similar. So I gave it a try.

What did the Horňácko people say about that?

PM: When Jirka came up with the idea that we would make a record that would be directly based on Horňácko folklore, but would be shifted elsewhere by its arrangements, we actually agreed on it in the end. It only took a while before we got up the courage to do it and stepped into it.

I can imagine that it could be a problem for you to work in such a way with Horňácko folklore...

PM: Yes, I have a lot of respect for tradition and I couldn't imagine at all how far we could get with such joint creation. We were perhaps embarrassed internally, as we weren't entirely convinced, but then we said to ourselves that we liked what we had done with Lesní zvěř, and therefore, after previous experiences, we would go with it, even without actually knowing precisely what.

There are a number of possibilities of how to work on such a project. Jura, did you imagine in the first place rather a fusion of folklore with other genres, or its deconstruction?

JH: I actually used both of these methods and a lot more in addition. At first I only had a certain feeling. I didn't know exactly how I wanted to handle it, it was just clear to me that the time had come for me to start. To start with we recorded the songs Uderiła skała and Kebys była katolíčka. I then worked on the first of them for about a month, picking samples, looking for the right sounds. I put a certain beat onto the recorded song and started improvising freely into it. That improvisation then gave rise to an outro, in which I convinced myself that it really made sense. The song gave me the courage to let the boys listen to the outcome and tell them that we could follow that path. Immediately after that, I recorded Katolíčka, where the introductory choir came into my mind. I sent it to Pete and it convinced him again. After his heartfelt reaction, I already knew that we were on the right track. At the time, I had no idea what we were going to do with the other songs, but my intention was to work with each of them differently. I wanted the album to have some authorial reshaping, as well as the recording of folk music with a modern producer's approach and also a complete rearrangement of the song, recording it track by track with a metronome. By the way, when the boys first recorded with a metronome, they wanted to give it all up and quit. In the end we used it in two songs, because they got used to it quickly. Another option was an electronic psychedelic matter, which resulted in the song Všickni lidé zemrít musí [All People Must Die] with the Slovak singer Katarzia. Finally, I came up with a "Horňácko drum'n'bass", the song Około mlýna [Around the Mill]. I wanted the album to be variegated, even though Zdeněk Neusar from Frontman magazine told me that in the end it wouldn't all seem as colourful as I thought, because I couldn't rip my handwriting off from it. That's clear, but I tried to do what I could, and maybe more. When people unfamiliar with Horňácko folklore listen to the album, they may think that it is all "normal" Horňácko music, only there is something done a little differently. But when people from Horňácko listen to it, they will know immediately that everything is "different" in there.

(to be continued)

Photo by Roman Franc

Comments

Reply

No comment added yet..

Brno musicians are talented in various genres, and they’re generally long-lived and vital individuals. This was resoundingly clear during the jubilee celebration of Mojmír Bártek, a teacher, composer, arranger, and above all a virtuoso trombone player. The jubilee concert, dubbed Mojda Bártek 80, was prepared by his friends under the direction of B-Side Band trumpeter and bandleader Josef Buchta. Despite the birthday boy’s open and (sometimes emotional) enjoyment of the two and a half hour program, he still remained an active participant of the entire musical production except for brief moments of rest. He performed as the author of many compositions, but above all as a player, trombone in hand and fully committed.  more

On Thursday 24 March, a Brno audience experienced a truly special evening. Director Břetislav Rychlík and his wife prepared a concert on the music stage of the Brno Municipal Theatre in support of Ukrainian artists who fled their country to escape the war. The evening was entitled “Common Roots” and sought to closer acquaint the audience with the similarities between the folk cultures of Ukraine and Moravia. During the evening's program, I could feel the general musical parallels in particular. Exceptional artists are able to pass such beauty onwards anywhere in the world.  more

The original programme of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra’s third subscription concert, as part of the Philharmonic Orchestra series in Theatre II, promised to continue the originally scheduled Dvořák-Brahms dramaturgy line as interpreted by Elisabeth Leonská. However, of the intended programme for the evening of Dvořák & Brahms II, only Dvořák’s Symphony No. 4 remained. Because Elisabeth Leonská fell ill for the concerts on the 25th and 26th of February at The National Theatre Brno - Janáček Theatre, her place was filled by pianist Alexander Ullman with a performance of The Concerto for Piano and Orchestra in A minor by Edvard Hagerup Grieg. The orchestra was led by head conductor of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra Dennis Russell Davies.  more

The long-delayed premiere of the composition The Basement Sketches by composer Michal Nejtek, whose performance was planned for June 2020 and which was commissioned by the Brno Philharmonic, was finally performed on Thursday 25 November at the Community Hall (Besední dům) venue. Together with the Cellar Sketches, the Variations on a Theme by Haydn in B flat major, Op. 56a by Johannes Brahms and Cello Concerto Op. 22 by Samuel Barber were played. In addition to Brno Philharmonic players, cellist Matt Haimovitz and pianist Nikol Bóková also performed. The dramaturgically varied evening, consisting of three distinctly different musical pieces of work and period contexts, was led by the ensemble’s chief conductor Dennis Russell Daviesmore

On Monday 22 November, the second concert of the Brno Contemporary Orchestra’s festive tenth season, entitled Kamenné mantry (Stone Mantras), presented compositions by Fausto Romitelli, Michal Rataj, Miloslav Ištvan and the recently deceased (well known to Brno audiences) Lithuanian composer Bronius Kutavičius. In addition to the orchestra itself, there were also soprano singer Irena Troupová, marimba player Martin Opršál and reciter Pavel Zajíc, who replaced Otakar Blaha in the programme. The concert, organised in cooperation with the Moravian Museum, was conducted by the artistic director of the ensemble Pavel Šnajdrmore

The work by the British composer Benjamin Britten forms an essential part of contemporary opera production. Worldwide, he is even the most frequently staged author born in the 20th century.  Peter Grimes, with a libretto by Montagu Slater based on a poem by George Crabbe, became the opera that set the course for Britten's next musical-dramatic works. And it is with the title Peter Grimes that the Brno National Theatre has opened the opera part of the 2021/2022 season. The story of a rough and tumble fisherman, whose two young apprentices die soon after each other and who as a result sails out to sea, where he sinks his boat and himself with it, had its Czechoslovak premiere in Brno in June 1947. Almost 75 years after, the story of a fishing village, resentment, cruelty and gossip is now coming to life again in the Janáček Theatre, directed by David Radok and with a musical score by Marko Ivanović. The title role was played by tenor Joachim Bäckström and the widowed teacher Ellen Orford, who found affection in Grimes, was portrayed by soprano Jana Šrejma Kačírková. This is not the first time that these two have met on stage together – it was with Mark Ivanović and David Radok that they had previously joined forces for the play Juliette / Lidský hlas (Juliette/The Human Voice). Jana Hrochová (Auntie), Andrea Široká (Niece), Tereza Kyzlinková (Niece), Svatopluk Sem (Balstrode), Jitka Sapara-Fischerová (Mrs. Nabob Sedley), Jan Št'áva (Swallow), Vít Nosek (Bob Boles), Petr Levíček (Horace Adams), David Nykl (Hobson), Jiří Hájek (Ned Keene) and Ivo Šiler (Dr. Crabbe) were also featured, along with the others.  more

Under the “cipher” 29/2 (reads as “Twenty-ninth February”) there is a band that was created for a bit of fun. They used compositional techniques that should not work in songwriting at all. It has united musicians who, by definition, perhaps can never understand each other. And yet the result is an album of very strong songs that, despite all the experimentalism, makes sense and works as a whole.  more

Yesterday, Visitors to the Brno City Theatre experienced the Czech premiere of the Broadway musical hit Pretty Woman. Directed by Stanislav Moša, this theatrical adaptation of the famous blockbuster highlighted the strengths of the movie. Until the break, the viewer is mostly laughing royally and having fun in this tale of a modern Cinderella, and then in the second half the impressiveness and lyricism of the whole title is especially pronounced.  more

For two consecutive Saturdays, visitors to the Olomoucké barokní slavnosti (Olomouc Baroque Festival) had the opportunity to listen to works by lesser-known composers whose music not only in many respects far surpassed the standard of the time, but whose fates were also closely linked to Olomouc.  more

One of the biggest attractions of this year's Olomouc Baroque Festival was the performance of the oratorio David by the Austrian composer Karl Ditters. It was the perfect opportunity to do so, after all – this year the work celebrates 250 years since its creation. Ditters composed the oratorio to a text by Ignazio Pinto in 1771 and in the same year it had its premiere at the castle of Bishop Philipp Gotthard Schaffgotsch of Wrocław on the Jánský Vrch (John´s Hill) near Javorník. In the musical production of violinist and artistic director of Volantes Orchestra Veronika Manová and conductor Ema Mikešová the oratorio was first performed in concert in Brno at the Church of St. Johns (4 August), then on 7 August in Podzámecká zahrada – a garden of the Archbishop’s Chateau in Kroměříž, and, finally, on 12–14 August in the Ambit and Basilica of the Visitation of the Virgin Mary on the Svatý Kopeček (Holy Hill) near Olomouc. The event of 12 August was the performance I visited. In addition to Volantes Orchestra, there were members of other ensembles – Arte dei Suonatori (PL), Il Cuore Barocco (SK), Musica Aeterna (HU) and Societas Incognitorum (CZ). In this aspect, this is another event from the series of concerts organised under the auspices of the festival which bring together musical ensembles from the Visegrad Four. However, there are also performers from other countries – Slovenia, Northern Macedonia and Great Britain. The solo roles were performed by: Doubravka Součková (David), Aco Bišćević (Saul, King of Israel), Helena Hozová (Jonathan, son of Saul), Jiří Miroslav Procházka (Abner, warlord) and Aneta Petrasová (Eliab, David’s brother). The concert was directed by Rocc; the choreography was designed by Sanja Nešković Peršin and costumes were rendered by Borjan Litovski.  more

Traditions, costumes, songs and often special food. This is the basis of folk culture, which is strongly rooted in Moravia. Interest in it has been growing recently – the Czech Republic is taking it as one of the bases of its promotion for domestic and foreign tourists. What is folklore actually about? Are young people coming back to it? And what makes it interesting? We interviewed Marie Hvozdecká, a music editor focusing on folklore at Czech Radio and also a long-time programmer of the folklore scene at the Brno Music Marathon Festival. As she says, “having an interest in folk music is a good thing. However, in order to remake it into a new form, one must know its origin and meaning, otherwise it becomes a mockery.”  more

The Brno Music Marathon Festival will include a world music scene for the first time this year. In addition to the award-winning Bosnian singer-songwriter Damir Imamović and the female vocal group Kata from the exotic Faroe Islands, the group Spilar from Belgium will perform in the Biskupský dvůr venue on Saturday 14 August. Its first album Stormweere reached number eight on the World Music Charts Europe, the official partner of the scene and compiled by leading radio music writers from across Europe, last November. We interviewed Maarten Decombel, one of the founders of the group.  more

American singer-songwriter Leyla McCalla is claiming her Haitian roots. She lives in Louisiana and connects the traditional musical genres of the U.S. South with the culture of the island where her ancestors came from. On Tuesday, 27 July, we will be able to hear her voice and songs live at the festival of Folkové prázdniny (Folk Holidays) in Náměšt' nad Oslavou.  more

You will read in the media about the impact of coronavirus on the level of teaching in compulsory schools. There is less talk of art schools. Yet a quarter of a million children attend primary art schools (PAS). What do these bring to us and to children? What makes them special? I put these and not only these questions to Pavel Borský, cellist of Indigo Quartet (a string ensemble), programmer of the musical scene of the Brno Music Marathon Festival, teacher at the Faculty of Theatre of JAMU and at V. Kaprálové PAS Brno as well as regional coordinator of the ZUŠ Open festival. As he himself pointed out, the exact impact of distance learning on art school students is yet to be seen, but the online environment has taught many children how to communicate better using modern technology.  more

How challenging is it to make it as a composer in this day and age? And does it require more than just musical knowledge and talent? We had a conversation with a renowned composer of many genres, a pianist and comedian in his own way. This is what Zdeněk Král is – a native of Nový Bor and the programmer of the Brno Music Marathon Festival, he has already performed at the show three times, and this year he added a whole dramaturgy of one stage called Humour in Music to his performance. As he himself says, “I want to show that even in the field of so-called classical music there can be room for humour and comedy.”  more

Editorial

The management of the Brno Philharmonic announces a vacancy for the position of Secretary of Artistic Operations. The possible start date is mid-August 2022.  more

The Czech Radio Endowment Fund and Czech Radio – Radiožurnál, in cooperation with the Endowment Fund of the Brno-born Magdalena Kožená, are launching a non-financial collection named after the favorite Czech musical “Kdyby tisíc klarinetů”, or “If a Thousand Clarinets”. The collection is intended for all child musicians for whom the purchase of a musical instrument is beyond the means of their family budget. The collection works on the principle of connecting donors and volunteers on the platform www.kdybytisicklarinetu.cz.  more

The next-to-last premiere of the 2021/22 season is Mozart's “The Magic Flute”. It will be directed by Miroslav Krobot. This unconventional presentation of the opera promises the audience a journey into space. The musical staging is led by Pavel Šnajdr. Title roles will be played by Jiří Sulženko, David Szendiuch, Petr Nekoranec, Daniel Matoušek, Martina Masaryková, Doubravka Součková, Jana Šrejma Kačírková, Andrea Široká, and others. Scenography by Andrej Ďurík.  more

Eight years after the release of their album Šero, which received both the Anděl and Apollo music awards, the Orff Brothers will release their new Song for Stefanie Sauer. You can hear it in concert in Brno, where the band will start their spring tour.  more

The Brno Philharmonic is holding a benefit concert for Ukraine this week. Proceeds from the entrance fee will go to the Vesna Women's Educational Association, which is now helping Ukrainian refugees. The evening will include Dvořák's Symphony No. 9 in E minor From the New World, conducted by Leoš Svárovský.  more

The City of Brno has announced that an agreement has been reached with the owner of the International Hotel, HIB DEVELOPMENT, a. s. If the agreement is fulfilled, the construction of the Janáček Cultural Centre (JKC) will not be a compromise, but will fulfil the vision of having a top concert hall in Brno and gaining a new high-quality public space in the historic city centre. The interrelated key documents, i.e. the exchange agreement, the artwork purchase agreement, and the cooperation agreement, were recommended for approval by the Brno City Council today.  more

The international festival Groove Brno is celebrating its 15th birthday at Metro Music Bar and Sono Centrum with musical guests such as the Oakland ensemble Tower of Power, the New York group Spyro Gyra, and the Grammy-nominated band from Boston, Lettuce.  more

The series of musical/discourse events known as HLUK, which is put on by the musical platform AlterEcho, is finishing out its third edition in the club Bajkazyl Brno. For the musical section, the pair of Prague electronic musicians Bariel & TMA will perform a live set, as will the originally Russian experimental producer rlung and the ambient project Vision of 1994.  more

This year marks the 1100th anniversary of the death of St. Ludmila, an important personality of Czech history and patroness of the Czech lands. To mark the occasion, the Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno is preparing a concert at the venue of the Community Hall (Besední dům), featuring an oratorio by composer Petr Fiala, The Baptism of Saint Ludmila, set to a text by poet Zuzana Nováková-Renčová. Together with the Choir and the Czech Virtuosi orchestra, actress Simona Postlerová will perform.  more

Tomorrow there will be the public habilitation lecture of Vladimír Maňas entitled Nicolaus Zangius: musician of the late Renaissance. Maňas’ book on Nicolaus Zangius and a recording of his compositions was published by Munipress and is available online.  more