The Mandolin: A Modest and Sensitive Instrument

6 June 2018, 2:00

The Mandolin: A Modest and Sensitive Instrument

The mandolin player Martin Krajíček plays in various genres of groups. He has his own acoustic trio, is a member of the Jitka Šuranská Trio, plays in the “Mexican” group Mariachi Espuelas and in Cimbal Classica, plays klezmer and also teaches the mandolin. Since last year he has also been the organiser of the Mandolin Festival in Boskovice. This year it will take place from 8 to 10 June.

The Mandolin Festival is taking place this year for the second time. Why did you decide to organise this event last year?

If you are on your own, you have to (laughs). No, seriously. Already for ten years I have run mandolin workshops in Boskovice and the year before last it was already necessary to provide some kind of musical output for the public. So many varied genres – classical, bluegrass, swing, jazz and klezmer – and with only slight exaggeration a mandolin orchestra could not be kept under wraps. We also held a concert and it was a great success. After the concert the programme director for the Cultural Facilities of Boskovice Ivo Legner raised the idea of a mandolin festival, and so it was born! The town of Boskovice supported this project with a grant, and so a festival was born in which children, semi-professional and professional musicians perform.

How did it go last year? What in your opinion were its high points?

The high point was undoubtedly the Sunday concert of soloists with an orchestra. The festival is not a mass event, but rather a smaller more intimate celebration, the focal point being the mandolin and my current and future musical friends. It will always be for a few true enthusiasts and for listeners who are interested in something unusual.

Although the festival is called “mandolin”, but there are also players of other instruments, and this year even the Megafon vocal quartet. What rules governed the festival programme?

Megafon is a vocal counterpoint to the instrumental cascades. But I also include singing. This year it will be, for example, Jitka Šuranská. I select the programme from available players on stringed instruments, not only from the mandolin family but also guitars and zithers. These instruments have a fragile sound, and therefore I choose rather sensitive sounding more intimate projects, so that the whole sound spectrum is represented. On Sunday a mandolin orchestra and soloists will play in the concert hall of Boskovice Chateau without amplification as is traditional.

In Saturday's programme in the Chateau greenhouse musicians of different generations and even players on different instruments will be playing together. Will the programme have a unifying element?

The mandolin as an instrument has never been in the musical mainstream. That makes it interesting. With a few exceptions, players on the mandolin are very humble and sensitive people. I think that the choice of instruments is not random, and even if that happens I'm sure that the sound and dynamic possibilities of the mandolin affect the musician. Playing the banjo, electric, Spanish or bass guitar give a completely different world view. The concert‘s unifying element is of course the mandolin and the opportunity for direct musical communication between the musicians on stage, who have probably previously never met.

Before your trio the Anděl award winners Jiří Plocek and Jitka Šuranská will perform. Jiří was once your publisher, and now you play in Jitka's trio. What do you think is exceptional about their duo? What do you like most about them?

A certainly humility, knowledge of tradition and the ability to give the song exactly what it needs. No excess. Jiří has been a guest in my workshops a few times, but he is not so keen to be on stage. With Jitka it is probably an exception because he was happy to give concerts. Part of the workshop will be his lecture.

You yourself play in a trio with violinist Juraj Stieranka and the double bass player Juraj Valenčík. How would you describe the music you play?

Our programme is called The Mandolin across Genres and Continents. We play many genres, but for me the most important thing is personality. Musical lightness and playfulness should be the main denominator of the trio. Half of the repertoire consists of my works, and so it is along with the KK Band another group that plays my work. Juraj Valenčík and Juraj Stieranka and are easily able to cross the borders of genres with their distinctive approaches.

At the end of the Saturday programme there is to be a jam session. Was a jam also part of last year’s festival? Did it produce any exceptional moments?

I have also expanded the programme to a Friday concert, which we will begin at 8 p.m. The subsequent jam will then either have amplification, or there will be several separate acoustic jams in the environment of the chateau’s park. Last year the major concert was always followed by joint jam sessions with the participants at various locations. It was a remarkable experience.

How strictly will the Sunday programme be followed at the chateau? Who are the members of the Mandolin Orchestra?

The Mandolin Orchestra already has its repertoire, which is supplemented by works that we will prepare during Saturday and Sunday morning together with Jitka Šuranský and Michael Müller. The orchestra consists of teachers and pupils of my workshops and will be supplemented by local players of the double bass, guitar, clarinet and several soloists such as Martin Vejvoda on the ukulele. The orchestra is not made up of just the mandolin, but also the mandola and mandocello.

Workshops are part of the festival. What exactly can participants expect? And is it necessary to apply in advance?

There will be the already mentioned lecture from Jiří Plocek, and workshops from Peter Luha and Michal Müller. Those interested in workshops or in playing in the orchestra can apply by e-mail to tentyny@gmail.com. The complete programme is available at www.kulturaboskovice.cz.

There will also be children’s ensembles performing at the festival, and you yourself have taught for many years at a music school. Is there interest in the mandolin or acoustic music in general among kids? How can you motivate them to take an interest in these genres?

I would need to write a book about it, there is no way to put it in brief. The interest is there. But to take it somewhere it is necessary to create a team which will be made up of families and teachers, children’s groups, etc. And then to play and play. I am glad that I’m managing.

Every year a well-attended festival of alternative music is held in Boskovice in July, for many years Ibérica was held there, and now you are organising a Mandolin Festival there … How do the locals see these events? Is there interest in this type of culture?

The interest is there. The natives are content and regularly visit all the cultural events. We are a cultured town. But of course the Mandolin Festival does not have the ambition to be a major festival for thousands of people.

The festival is only just getting going, but I assume you have plans and possibly even dreams for the coming years. How would you see further years?

Wow, we are getting ahead of ourselves … There are plenty of ideas. I have the support of the town of Boskovice and local sponsors. But for now let’s keep our feet on the ground. The 2018 festival is still ahead of us. I moved this year’s event to June. It is going to be great in the park around the chateau.

Comments

Reply

No comment added yet..

As part of this year’s European Tour, Bobby McFerrin visited Brno’s Sono Centre, where he managed to perfectly use the brilliant acoustics and the close contact with the audience. The legend is back. Indeed, he comes back regularly, and not just to Brno.  more

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.  more

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.  more

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.  more

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.  more

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.  more

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.  more

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.   more

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.  more

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.  more

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.  more

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.  more

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.  more

The piano recital by the chief conductor of the Brno Philharmonic Denis Russell Davies and his wife the pianist Maki Namekawa yesterday in Besední dům offered three works by three significant figures from American minimalism. The concert included minimalist works by Steve Reich in the shape of Piano Phase, the composition Hallelujah Junction by John Adams and Four Movements for Two Pianos by Philip Glass.  more

The JAZZFESTBRNO Festival is expanding this year with the new Tension programme line, which will feature musicians on the borderline between jazz and electronic music. One of the performers who will appear on 28 March in the Praha space in Brno will be the Czech-Ukrainian duo Zabelov Group, which has recently released a new album called Eg. This interview with Roman Zabelov (accordion, voice, piano, organ, harp…) and Jan Šikl (drums, trumpet, guitar, percussion…) was done in a Prague café just before a rehearsal of the band.

Editorial

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.  more

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.  more

The Ibérica Festival of Ibero-American Culture released its programme today. It is traditionally full of music, dance and gastronomy. Cristina Aguilera and Diego Guerrero will perform during the gala concert.  more

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.  more

Czech Radio Brno will celebrate its 95th anniversary with a great concert at the Brno Water Reservoir. In the concert will appear bands such as Moravia Brass Band, Gustav Brom's Radio Big Band led by Vlado Valovič, Ondřej Gregor Brzobohatý and a number of others.   more

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.  more

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.  more

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.  more

The management of the Brno Philharmonic announces a tender for the position of PR and Marketing Manager. Starting from 1 June 2019.  more

The festival of blind and partially sighted children and youth enters its 30th season. What originally was a musical show of visually handicapped children has eventually become a several-day international festival, which brings the "dark blue" reality to the general public.   more