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..

A fateful comedy, the third part of a musical trilogy or a fantasy musical. These attributes define Paradise, a new authorial piece from the workshop of Zdenek Merta and Stanislav Moša. Their ninth joint work in the field of music theatre was premiered yesterday on the big stage of the Brno City Theatre. The result is embarrassing.  more

Director, librettist and stage designer David Radok and composer, but also chief conductor of the opera ensemble Marko Ivanović created the authorial work for the opera ensemble of the National Theatre Brno. The opera The Monument, which was premiered yesterday, tells the story of sculptor Otakar Švec (1892–1955), whose design in 1955 was a portent of Stalin's monument at Letná. The title roles in the Janáček Theatre were performed by: Stanislav Sem (Sculptor), Markéta Cukrová (Wife), Roman Hoza (Colleague) and Ondřej Koplík (Minister of Culture). The solo parts were complemented by the Opera Choir, the Czech Academic Choir and the Brno Children's Choir. The Janáček Opera Orchestra was directed by the author of the music Marko Ivanović.  more

On the next day after the powerful experience I had gotten from the performance of Requiem by the Armenian composer Tigran Mansurian, I had the opportunity to meet its creator. The fragile, gentle and sincere music thus foreshadowed me of its author, with whom I spent a few precious moments in the director's lounge of the Besední dům in Brno in a very friendly conversation.  more

If a band releases a new album after ten years and calls it Dej si čas [Take Your Time], it sounds like a pleasant self-irony. But what is ten years against delays of other bands, whose fans had to wait for new albums for eighteen (AG Flek) or even thirty years (Progres 2). For Mošny, it was said that the new album started to emerge a few years ago, but the group wanted to include some brand new songs, which they needed to rehearse and finish.  more

That evening was not only festive, with an extraordinary list of performers, but especially from many points of view valuable and significant. The bright and shiny ballet gala show of the ensemble of the National Theatre Brno showed many important things at the Janáček Theatre yesterday. On the one hand, the gala concert celebrated the respectable one hundred years' anniversary of the ballet ensemble in Brno, and on the other hand also presented the city as a respected focal point of dance art, where the greatest stars of these days do not hesitate to arrive. And in this first-league competition, the domestic ensemble was successful in its match with the European best and brightest. If you add to this the truly storming and crowded auditorium of the Janáček Opera, meaning more than a thousand satisfied spectators, the above-mentioned artistic gains are accomplished.  more

Several years ago, a miracle happened to Jura Hradil. This devotee of the electronic nu jazz alternative came to the hilly Carpathian landscape somewhere on the border between Moravia and Slovakia and heard a song, firstly one, then two, then hundreds. It wasn't a blurry echo of old times, but the bright tone of a Horňácko song.  more

Originally, it was supposed to be the third part of the YM project, in which the individual members of the group Květy make records of their solo albums of different genres, and their colleagues from the band accompany them. After Lorenzovi hoši [Lorenzo´s Boys] by Martin Kyšperský in country style and after the electronic Japonec [The Japanese Guy] by Aleš Pilgr, Ondřej Kyas´s Solárium [The Sunbed] was hard to classify concerning its genre category. As a solo record, with only an episode contribution by Aleš Pilgr and without any playing participation of Martin Kyšperský.  more

The small Ponava music club has been renowned in Brno last several years for its very high quality music production. Here and there, its diverse programme also features folklore projects. On Thursday, a duo of the well-known multi-instrumentalist Marian Friedl and the Lachian vocalist Sabrina Pasičnyk performed on this stage.  more

While trumpeter Jiří Kotača is known to the Brno jazz audience mainly as the bandmaster of the progressive big band Cotatcha Orchestra, on his first CD he presents himself with a different formation. He had met the Swedish guitarist Alf Carlsson during his studies in the Netherlands, and then they met up again and founded their band during Alf's tourist trip to the Czech Republic. Then they invited two very talented Slovak players to a joint trip for music, drummer Kristián Kuruc and double bass player Peter Korman, who is a member of Kotača's big band. This international formation plays Kotača's and Carlsson's original compositions and gets more or less inspired by Moravian, Slovak and above all Scandinavian folklore. The album was given the name Journeys, because journeys – to music, to knowledge and to the heart of souls – are what the life of not only this band revolves around.  more

With the return to the Janáček Theatre after three years and with the first foreshadowing of the upcoming celebrations of the 250th anniversary of Ludwig van Beethoven's birth, the Brno Philharmonic entered the new year with its traditional, already the 65th New Year concert in history. For this occasion, it chose a programme truly magnificent and appropriate, crowned by the European-famous Ode to Joy. The whole gala evening took place under the baton of Chief Conductor Dennis Russell Davies.  more

Two sold-out concerts launched on Saturday filled-up the hall of the Koruna cinema in Břeclav, where the Národopisný soubor Břeclavan [Břeclavan Ethnographic Ensemble] celebrated its 65th anniversary and joined thus the series of jubilee folklore ensembles this year. The afternoon concert had to be eventually added because of the huge audience acclaim, which only confirms that in South Moravia folklore is still widely known and enjoys unremitting popularity.  more

The Prophet and the Wind is a multi-genre performance by flute player Martina Komínková. She created it in Italy and after its Italian premiere it will be presented in Brno for the first time. The Czech premiere will take place at Brno's Divadlo na Orlí Theatre on Sunday 3 November. The evening show starting at 7:00 pm is already sold out, but you can still buy tickets for the afternoon performance scheduled at 2:00 pm.  more

In the premises of the neo-Gothic Czech Brethren Evangelical Church of J. A. Comenius, on the fifth evening of the Moravian Autumn festival, a performance of sacred music for choir and organ took place. In addition to the choir of the same name, Martinů Voices was also dominated by the organist Linda Sítková and a four-member ensemble of French horns. All this under the direction of choirmaster Lukáš Vasilek.  more

The third event of this year's Moravian Autumn festival was transferred to a theatre stage. The event was made happen by Terén, which is a platform acting as a third stage of the Centre of Experimental Theatre, right after the Goose on a String and HaDivadlo theatres. And it was on this particular stage of the Goose on a String where the world premiere of a stage production of Oedipus by André Gide took place yesterday. Composer Bohuslav Martinů stands behind its equally important incidental music.  more

The jubilee 50th Moravian Autumn music festival started yesterday at Bobycentrum in Brno with a concert performance of the minimalist opera Einstein on the Beach by composer Philip Glass and director Robert Wilson. The concert version was created by collaboration of visual artist Germaine Kruip, Suzanne Vega and Ictus Ensemble and Collegium Vocale Gent. Although only the music remained from the previously stage show, the length of the concert itself was comparable with the opera work. Hence, the evening lasted almost four hours.  more

Editorial

Representatives of the Slovak reggae and ska scene Polemic and Medial Banana are preparing a joint birthday concert in the Fléda club. The Brno concert is one of only two performances in the Czech Republic. The interconnection of these two bands started with their anthem Staré časy [Old Times], which they presented together at the Uprising festival. The concert will also feature new songs from the upcoming albums of the two formations.   more

The Vox Iuvenalis choir of the Brno University of Technology announces an audition for new members. Positions are to be filled in all voice groups.   more

The Balladine Dance School in Brno will open a summer semester of dance courses for children and adults in February.  more

Yesterday, the 19th season of the JazzFestBrno international music festival presented its complete programme of the main part of the festival. Already published names such as Lizz Wright, Joshua Redman Quartet and Pat Metheny have now been expanded by French trumpeter Erik Truffaz, American pianist Jason Moran or British saxophonist Nubya Garcia, who will perform in Czech premiére in Brno. This year's season promises a total of 23 concerts during 16 music evenings. The festival runs from 15 March to 9 June 2020.  more

The Brno band Plum Dumplings is preparing to release their new album Jiný místo [Another place] in the Kabinet Múz. As a guest, Kittchen will appear.  more

The management of the Brno Philharmonic has announced a tender for orchestral practice in several instrument groups. The orchestral academy is prepared for the seasons 2020/2021 and 2021/2022, members of this academy will have the opportunity to perform in subscription chamber concerts of the Brno Philharmonic. The audition will take place in April 2020.  more

The acclaimed soprano Naděžda Kniplová died at the age of 87. Former soloist of the National Theatre and the State Opera in Prague, she also performed in the Brno Opera between 1959 and 1964.  more

The Ondráš Military Art Ensemble announces a selection procedure for the professional part of the ensemble, for the position of soloist in the music and singing group (violin) in the Orchestra of Folk Instruments.  more

In 2020, the Janáček Quartet launches a brand new cycle of chamber concerts, in which it also welcomes guests from the ranks of  chamber ensembles and soloists. Four concerts of this cycle are planned to take place in the newly reconstructed Janáček Hall of the Brno Conservatory. The opening concert of the cycle is dedicated to the founding member of the quartet Jiří Kratochvíl, who died on 3 January 2020.  more

The ballet ensemble of the National Theatre Brno celebrates 100 years since its foundation this season. On the occasion of this anniversary, the ensemble is preparing a gala concert at the Janáček Theatre, featuring dancers from major European ballet companies, as well as soloists of national theatres from Prague, Bratislava and Brno. Among the guest artists there are stars such as Diana Kosyreva, Natascha Mair, Philipp Stepin, Cesar Corrales and many others.  more