The Cancelled Strážnice Folklore Festival May Take Place in Your Garden This Year

26 May 2020, 8:00
The Cancelled Strážnice Folklore Festival May Take Place in Your Garden This Year

After Easter, an official statement that ruined every folklore lover's day appeared on social networks and in the media. The folklore festival in Strážnice will not take place this year. The reasons are well known to everyone. Yesterday, another wave of coronavirus lockdown easement began, and this was not the only reason why we talked to Martin Šimša, director of the National Institute of Folk Culture (NÚLK) in Strážnice. Well, is there really a reason for mourning? What can we look forward to in the immediate future? And when is the best time to visit the castle park and the open-air museum in Strážnice? These questions, and not only these, will be answered in the following interview.

This year, together with the organisers, you were forced to cancel the largest domestic folklore festival in Strážnice. What were the most important circumstances that eventually led you to this unfortunate decision?

The last straw was that we had to settle with the foreign ensembles. Although the ministry's instructions were not unequivocal, it was obvious from the circumstances of the development of the pandemic around the world that we would not be able to carry out the festival in its full extent. Foreign ensembles really needed to know already in February whether the festival would take place. Hence, if we guarantee that if they buy tickets and the festival eventually does not take place, we will refund their tickets. Which was, of course, with the distances that they fly and with so many people involved, is completely out of our financial options. So we were forced to tell people abroad not to buy the tickets, as the festival simply would not take place. Then it was basically just about waiting for the right time to come to make this statement. It was high time after Easter, especially for the partners. Lots of craftsmen go to the festival, a lot of vendors. They all needed to set a schedule for this year. After Easter, it seemed obvious to us that even if the lockdown easement came, it would not apply to a congregation of thirty thousand people from all over the country.

Which foreign ensembles were affected this year?

We had arranged for an ensemble from Chile, which was very interested in participating. Another formation was supposed to arrive from Indonesia. These are really long distances. Ensembles from Europe, Serbia and Ukraine were also scheduled. It's always a mixture. We hope that everyone will stay loyal to us and come next year.

festival_straznice_foto_marie_hvozdecka_02

The 75th season of the festival was supposed to take place this year. Has it ever happened in the past that the festival did not take place?

This has never happened in the past. The festival is usually staged before the main school holidays, and that is why not even the year 1968 and the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops affected it in any way. Also the year after, 1969, the festival took place as usual – simply speaking, it had never been cancelled. But everything once happens for the first time.

How will it be with the programme for the next season? Will it be new, or you will try to stick to the programme of this year?

Yes, we would certainly like this year's programme to take place as much as possible next year. This is because programmes are not planned from year to year. They are always being prepared several years in advance, ensembles are arranged, the authors prepare everything, new choreographies are made. That is why we don't want this big effort, which is related to everything, to go to waste. There's actually no reason for the shows not to be staged.

For example, don't you have older performers in some shows, for whom this could be a problem?

They certainly are there, but no programme is built specifically on them, so this is not a problem.

festival_straznice_foto_marie_hvozdecka_01

Are you planning on any special sanitation measures for the coming years?

This will become apparent depending on the sanitation measures put in place in general. Of course, you can set limits, but everyone behaves according to his or her own manners. It's hard to command a mass of people to behave in a certain way, to wear face masks or not to drink alcohol.

Are you planning on any other novelties or changes? I know, for example, that the sale of tickets has been discussed...

Last year we already managed to introduce a system of advanced sales, but eventually it turned out that there was not so much interest in using it. Maybe it was because it started about three weeks prior to the festival, which is quite a short time. If everything had been launched right after the New Year, it would probably be more interesting for people. We have a bit of a problem with the fact that we are VAT payers, and that is why we have to sell every ticket in the month in which it is accounted for. Hence, selling something in January that will be fulfilled in July is a problem. That is why I don't know yet how everything will work in the future. Of course, there is the option to sell tickets for example through the Ticketportal, but there we would have to share our profit, which is rather small every year, with the service provider.

There might be a problem with returned tickets this year...

Yes, in a way there might be. Due to the fact that the festival is and has always been basically loss-making, our financial loss deriving from its cancellation is not nearly as great as is the case with other commercial festivals.

festival_straznice_foto_marie_hvozdecka_03

An integral part of the Strážnice festival is also Skanzen, an open air folklore museum. I suppose it is also closed to the public? When will it be open?

The Skanzen will open on Tuesday 26 May. So far, we have had to cancel the Easter events, which fell right into the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown. We also cancelled the erection of the maypole. It was during this period that a number of programmes for schools were supposed to take place. Quite logically, we had to cancel them as well. For the school holidays, if it really happens that it will be allowed for one thousand people to congregate, three programmes could be taken into consideration. However, we will see at the end of June how everything will develop. We would like to organise the harvest festival, the pilgrimage in the Skanzen open-air museum and the Firefighters' Sunday. So we will work on these, but their actual holding will depend on the overall situation. We assume that this week everything will be very slow, because school trips are not coming, nor are senior citizens' package tours. It will be more focused on weekend operation. The core of the weekend operations are guided tours, during which visitors will move around the area individually. Guides who will give explanations and demonstrate handicraft activities will be placed in selected buildings. In addition, there will be guided tours, but smaller than they used to be. They will not be for forty people, but only twenty. We will require that all visitors have a face mask with them when entering the complex. Of course, they don't have to keep it on their mouth all the time, but when entering buildings that aren't really big and where it's not possible to keep the two-metre social distancing in them, they'll have to put the masks on.

And what are you planning for the period in which the festival was supposed to be held? Can visitors look forward to some replacement programme, such as streaming or perhaps something similarly popular these days?

Thanks to cooperation with a group of enthusiasts who now have the ifolklor brand, we put together a virtual version for the festival, which will be called "ifolklorní Strážnice". It will have several levels. One of them is the mentioned level of streaming. We addressed a number of ensembles, choirs, bands and individuals. We challenged them to record a short half-hour stream in which they would present what they would normally like to show at Strážnice and how they would enjoy it. They make the recordings at their homes so that they don't have to come to Strážnice, because we are afraid that a lot of people will want to see what it looks like here, what's going on here. What are we going to do here with such a small Woodstock that we can't manage, either organisationally or hygienically? Because people will want to go to the toilet, drink water, buy food. But now the park is running only in the normal visitor mode, which is meant for about a hundred people, not thousands. So our keywords are "stay at home!" Stage Strážnice in your favourite home nest and we will provide you with streams on our Facebook page. There will be performances by ensembles and dulcimer bands interspersed with historical records from the archives, both photographs and videos of older programmes. That will be one level. The other level is in cooperation with TV Noe from Ostrava; at prime times on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon, shows that have been acclaimed by spectators in the past will be available for viewing. Cooperation with Czech Radio and Radio Proglas is also anticipated.

Who can folklore enthusiasts look forward to?

It is agreed with a number of ensembles from Moravian Slovakia, the Brno district, Bohemia or northern Moravia. There will be plenty of it. The programme is expected to run on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Finally, do you have a message that you would like to convey to the readers of our portal Brno – City of Music?

Well, I would like to invite all our visitors to approach Strážnice this year in the same way as they are used to watching big sport shows, such as a hockey match or the Olympics together, whether in their favourite garden, at home or in a pub. To find their favorite place, invited friends there, get good wine and food. And to watch this year's festival in Strážnice on Facebook or the TV with similar excitement. And next year we will hopefully welcome them all right here again.

Martin Šimša / Photo from NÚLK archive

Comments

Reply

No comment added yet..

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.  more

For the end of this summer, the National Theatre Brno prepared a children's opera, written by the composer Evžen Zámečník under the title Ferdy the Ant  (original Czech title: Ferda Mravenec), based on the story by Ondřej Sekora. The stories of an optimistic ant who "can do anything and knows everything" and doesn’t turn his nose up at “work of all kinds", however, are actually not appearing at the Janáček Theatre for first time. Zámečník's work in eight scenes won the hearts of the Brno audiences between the years 1977 and 1986 with astounding success; it helped bring a number of children to opera – the most refined form of musical theatre. Today, these already adult musicians, actors, directors, lighting technicians and many others have decided to pay tribute to the composer, who also carried out a lot of "work of all kinds" for Brno's musical life.  more

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.  more

The Brno-based rock band Kulturní úderka (which translates loosely as "Culture Brigade"), led by singer and guitarist Štěpán Dokoupil, did not keep its fans waiting for too long this time. While there was a fifteen-year break between their first and second albums, the new album Black Metall was released less than two years after the previous album Sarajevská Katarzija (Sarajevo Catharsis). The name of the new album must be handled with care. Úderka has never had anything to do with black metal as a music genre. And once again, we are treated not to metal, but to relatively raw rock, which in some moments is pleasantly softened by the keyboard of Omer Blentič, or the trumpet of their guest artist Jan Kozelek.  more

Cultural life has endeavoured to move into a sterile and "life-safe" social networking environment in an unequal struggle against the viral phantasm and government lockdown regulations. In the darkest months, music institutions competed with one another in staging recordings of memorable concerts, and major opera houses broadcast to the world those of their performances that gained the most success from spectators.  more

Shortly before the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, the Brno-based group Plum Dumplings released a new album. As opposed to their official debut L'épitaphe des papillons (The Epitome of Butterflies, 2014), sung in French, the band went for Czech lyrics this time. We are talking to the band's vocalist, who presents herself as Adéla Polka.  more

Oldřich Veselý, a Brno-based singer, composer and keyboard player, died in January 2018. In February 2019, the 10th Brno Beatfest, dedicated to his memory, took place in the Semilasso music hall. And a year later, a CD recording of this concert was released under the title Malý princ [The Little Prince], complemented by several bonus items.  more

On the twenty-fourth of May of this year, five days before her ninety-second birthday, Mrs. Anna Kománková passed away – and with her departed her particularly extensive songbook of ballads (not only) from the Javornicko and Horňácko districts, which she had always carried in her head. She was able to perform all the songs conserved in her memory in a distinctive and inimitable style. All her life she safeguarded the rare legacy of her ancestral heritage – all the more interestingly because she did not write down the hundreds of often complicated tunes and many dozens of verses and variants of ballads, but she knew them all by heart. Even after she reached the age of ninety, when she no longer enjoyed good health and did not perform in public, she remained in contact with the Javornický ženský sbor [Javorník Women's Choir], which she had revived and eventually led for many years. She never pushed herself forward anywhere, while at the same time she learned a lot from the skills of her ancestors: apart from singing (dozens of songs from the hymn-book  and hundreds of folklore songs) she was an excellent embroiderer: She sewed and embroidered with her own hands every part of the folk costume she wore.  more

The Brno Contemporary Orchestra, conducted by Pavel Šnajdr, concluded its ninth season with a concert called Con certo: With Certainty or with the Devil?, held in the hall of the Convent of the Merciful Brethren. The programme featured works by authors already established in the world of contemporary classical music: Alexej Fried, Olga Neuwirth and György Ligeti, whose violin concerto was performed by the violin virtuoso Milan Paľa.  more

When pronouncing the name Jiří ‘moravský’ Brabec (1955-2018) (the name is partly a pun referring to a typical Moravian dish called "moravský vrabec", which is pork roast with braised cabbage and  dumplings – translator's note), anyone, who until recently had any business concerning the Czech-Moravian folk and country scene, is reminded of the unmistakeable figure of a mighty man wearing a beard, with a strong voice and an inexhaustible source of information, and an enviable general knowledge of not only the above-mentioned music genre. We are speaking here about a complicated but deservedly respected personality who was able to surprise us with his knowledge in a number of disciplines, but also with his self-deprecating humour and unexpected physical dexterity. Unfortunately, for the last time he surprised people around him with his sudden departure, only a few days before his sixty-third birthday in June 2018, almost unnoticed by the public media, for which he had worked for so many years.  more

Electronic music, big beat and clubbing go together - but that’s only a small part of the truth. In fact electronic music was here long before clubbing, and thanks to enlightened teachers at JAMU it was doing very well indeed in Brno as early as the 1960s. That is, long before synthesizers and sequencers appeared on rock podiums, long before any old band had a computer, long before the first dance parties in glittering halls and dark cellars. Today electronic music is one of music’s most omnipresent genres: neither dance parties nor contemporary operas can do without it. Electronic big beat music has occupied reggae and swing, remixing is a daily affair, Brno artists have learned to sell instruments they built themselves to the whole world and to amplify an old knitting machine. As early as 1907 the composer Ferruccio Busoni dreamt of the future potential of electronic music, but not even his imagination and genius could have anticipated what Thaddeus Cahill’s first weird experiment with an immense electrical organ would lead to one day.  more

After Easter, an official statement that ruined every folklore lover's day appeared on social networks and in the media. The folklore festival in Strážnice will not take place this year. The reasons are well known to everyone. Yesterday, another wave of coronavirus lockdown easement began, and this was not the only reason why we talked to Martin Šimša, director of the National Institute of Folk Culture (NÚLK) in Strážnice. Well, is there really a reason for mourning? What can we look forward to in the immediate future? And when is the best time to visit the castle park and the open-air museum in Strážnice? These questions, and not only these, will be answered in the following interview.  more

Although cultural life has suffered significantly in the last two months, people's desire for an artistic experience has not faded. On the contrary – art and its role in our lives are perhaps needed even more than before. Hence, although concert halls are empty and listeners are forced to visit them only through recordings of their favourite concerts, a number of well-made music media  created (not only) in the beginning of the year helps to bridge over this unfortunate period.  more

”It’s a long journey to the West, / Pointless, fruitless is the longing,” began the first cowboy song recording issued by R. A. Dvorský’s publishing house in 1939. The theme and tone reflect the “tramping” movement, with its idealized vision of “America” and its unspoiled “nature”, which led Czechs to take to the woods, where they hiked, met round campfires and sang songs modelled on American folk songs and country music. So widespread was the tramping phenomenon that it made its way into popular music, where it long remained. Over time, the romance of the cowboy and the idea of a free life on the Great Plains found their way not only into songs sung by such late twenti- eth-century stars as Karel Gott, Helena Vondráčková and Waldemar Matuška but into social life itself: very few countries in Europe have such liberal laws when it comes to sleeping overnight, or even setting up camp, in the woods. In the past young people in Brno could choose whether to be “city slickers” hooked on discotheques or “wander- ers”, who would head for the main train station every Friday afternoon or Saturday and from there set out on the first train for wherever in the countryside it was heading to.  more

Bands that have been present on the scene for several decades have two options: Either they make a living from their own substance, and therefore from hits of the past. Or they are still trying to come up with something new, sometimes with the wishes of conservative fans in spite of it. The "Brno-based" group Poutníci (meaning Pilgrims in Czech), who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, are somewhere halfway in between. They still play Panenka [The Doll], which the audience demands, but fortunately they didn't get stuck and – maybe after a long time, but still – they come up with a new serial album, which should not pass unbeknown to the fans of Czech country and bluegrass.  more

Editorial

The Brno Philharmonic is preparing one global and one Czech premiere for this week. However, there will be one change to the programme: as opposed to the original one, Mozart's Symphony No. 32 in G major will be played instead of the previously announced composition Angels of Sorrow by Giya Kancheli. Furthermore, works of Josef Haydn and Kurt Schwertsik will be featured; the latter will attend this premiere in person.  more

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the New York Metropolitan Opera will not start the season until January of the following year. Traditional cinematographic broadcasts will now make use of the Met's archive. In the autumn, three classic works of Italian opera and one bonus screening are planned.  more

The musical evenings entitled Zdenek Merta u klavíru v Městském divadle Brno ('Zdenek Merta Playing the Piano at the Brno City Theatre') are continuing. The concert to be held in October promises Ondřej Pivec as a guest – a pianist, composer and winner of a American Grammy Award for 2017.  more

With the upcoming Janáček Brno 2020 festival, dummies of Leoš Janáček with his dog Čipera started to appear in the streets of Brno. A QR code is placed on each of the dummies, which, after scanning, will play a sample of his works.  more

Metronome Blues are sending their album Garden Of Eden out into the world. They will release it in their domestic Kabinet Múz (Cabinet of Muses), where they will also present their new line-up. Garden Of Eden is the fourth serial album of the band Metronome Blues. It was released digitally in the spring of 2020 during "lockdown" in New Zealand. Its vinyl version will be released in October by the Brno label Kabinet Records.  more

Hausopera will present two short operas connected with important functionalist monuments in Brno. The performances will take place in the 'Zemanova kavárna a cukrárna' ('Zeman's Café and Confectionery Shop') and in the 'Knihkupectví Michala Ženíška' ('Michal Ženíšek's Bookshop'). The venues, well-known to everyone, will appear in a new light and context during the opera shows. Jiří Nekvasil undertook the directing of both pieces.  more

The Czech Ensemble Baroque is once again preparing a cycle of baroque and classical music called Bacha na Mozarta! (translator's note: in Czech, this is a pun meaning both "Bach on Mozart!" and "Beware of Mozart!")  The opening concert of the season will offer The Dream, an operatic pantomime by Michael Haydn with Arnošt Goldflam as the narrator.   more

The September concert of Ensemble Versus chamber choir confronts sacred compositions of two Renaissance giants – Thomas Stoltzer and Josquin Desprez.  more

The Concentus Moraviae festival is celebrating its 25th birthday this year. Within the programme, which will take place this year no earlier than during the autumn, twenty-five concerts will be performed by the foremost Czech artists. The concerts will take place in castle halls, basilicas and churches, as well as modern venues. This dramaturge of this season is Barbara Maria Willi, who called it My Home.   more

The Brno Philharmonic will launch its 65th season with Arvo Pärt and Anton Bruckner on Petrov. The chief conductor and artistic director Dennis Russell Davies, who will conduct the concert, is entering his third season in Brno this year. Davies has signed an extension to the cooperation, so his contract will now last until 2024.   more