Reviews

At the penultimate concert of its tenth year jubilee staged in the Fresco Room of the Comenium Elementary School, the Olomouc Baroque Festival presented an evening with the Musica Florea ensemble. The musicians, conducted by cellist Marek Štryncl, performed a selection of compositions by forgotten classical and early romantic composers Karl Kohaut, Jan Ladislav Dusík and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. The choice of composers was not random – this year it is 210 years since Dusík’s death and 185 years since Hummel’s death. Performing with the ensemble’s core members – violinist Magdalena Malá and Simona Tydlitátová, violist Lýdie Cillerová, cellist Marek Štryncl and bass player Ondřej Štajnochra – was Petra Matějová on the fortepiano.  more

On 18 and 19 August, the tenth anniversary edition of the Olomouc Baroque Music Festival included a unique dramaturgical treat in its program – one of the most historically important Czech operas which, however, does not appear much on the stages of opera houses or music halls. This is Dráteník (The Tinker), the first original Czech opera composed by František Škroup to a libretto by Josef Krasoslav Chmelenský. It was directed by Kateřina Křivánková, with costumes and set by Sylva Marková and music by Marek Čermák, and performed by the Volantes Orchestra, the festival’s resident ensemble. Singing roles were taken up by Matúš Šimko (Dráteník/Škroup), Lenka Cafourková Ďuricová (Růžena), Vincenc Ignác Novotný (Vojtěch), Zuzana Badárová (Liduška), Aleš Janiga (Květenský), Jiří Miroslav Procházka (Lána), and Martin Vodrážka (Kůl). The purely dramatic roles of Chmelenský – the aforementioned author of the libretto – and Hranatý the guard were played by Martin Mihál. The reviewer visited the premiere performance.  more

For the sixth time, the Music Marathon has stirred up the streets, squares, and many spaces in Brno with all sorts of musical genres. These are not necessarily just concert venues, however. The Hausopera ensemble, for example, took their opera The Eternal Miss Pale to the Zeman Café on Friday 12 August. In three weekend performances there, they will complete their “Trilogy for the City”, a custom-made project for Brno that recalls its pros, cons, and above all some of its functionalist buildings.  more

Just like every year, the Znojmo Music Festival brought its visitors an opera of its own production. For this year's 18th edition, subtitled Returning Home and Our Guardian Angels, the organizers prepared a stage performance of Joseph Haydn's oratorio The Return of Tobias. The Old Testament story about a tested marriage and a blind father was performed by the Czech Ensemble Baroque under the baton of Roman Válek and directed by Tomáš Ondřej Pilař at the premiere on 15 July 2022 (this performance was visited by this author) in the riding hall of the Louka Monastery – the reprise and last performances will take place on the following two days. Shira Patchornik (Sarah), Lucie Kaňková (d'Azaria), Dagmar Šašková (Anna), Theodore Browne (Tobias), and Adam Plachetka (Tobit) performed the solo roles. Costumes were designed by Ivana Ševčíková Miklošková, choreography by Martin Šinták, and lighting design by Tomáš Příkrýmore

This year’s 27th edition of the Concentus Moraviae Festival is history after almost a month of music. The gala closing concert at the Zlín Congress Centre presented a program of songs by Ernest Chausson, Igor Stravinsky, Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss, Leoš Janáček and Antonín Dvořák. Magdalena Kožená, mezzo-soprano and patron of the show, performed as a soloist. She was joined by pianist and conductor Sir Simon Rattle, flutist and this year’s Artist in Residence Kaspar Zehnder, violinist Giovanni Guzzo, violinist Rahel Maria Rilling, violist Amihai Grosz, cellist Dávid Adorján, and clarinettist Christopher Richards. Dvořák’s songs were specially arranged for this ensemble by the English composer and conductor Duncan Ward.  more

This year's 27th edition of the Concentus Moraviae Music Festival is slowly coming to a grand finale as a joint concert by flutist and artist in residence Kaspar Zehnder, mezzo-soprano and patron of the festival Magdalena Kožená, and her husband, pianist and conductor Sir Simon Rattle. On Friday 24 June, at one of the last concerts of the culminating festival, artist-in-residence Kaspar Zehnder, together with his friends Giovanni Guzzo (violin), Rahel Maria Rilling (violin), Amihai Grosz (viola), Dávid Adorján (cello), Wolfgang Klinser (clarinet), and Anaïs Gaudemard (harp), prepared the dramaturgy of Friday's chamber concert in the library of the Náměšť Castle.  more

On 22 June, the Ensemble Opera Diversa visited the atrium of the Faculty of Arts at Masaryk University on Arne Novák Street with the program Dances in the Gardens, which continued the series of outdoor projects started last year. Bassoonist Pavel Horák and marimba player Martin Švec performed as soloists. The concert was conducted by conductor Patrik Červák, who stood in front of the Ensemble Opera Diversa string orchestra for the very first time.  more

After the first successful concert of the Concentus Moraviae festival’s resident ensemble at the castle in Slavkov, the ensemble led by violinist Pavel Fischer expanded to include pianist Katya Apekisheva and on Sunday, 12 June, in the Great Hall of Mikulov Castle, presented an unknown face of the musical language of Hungarian composer Béla Bartók with his Piano Quintet in C Major. Along with Fischer and Apekisheva, the concert also featured violinist Markéta Janoušková, violist Diede Verpoest, and cellist Erich Oskar Hüttermore

In its twenty-seven years of existence, the Concentus Moraviae International Music Festival has been held in a number of unusual and unique places. Sunday's program Homo Sapiens – The Story of Rhythm in Velké Meziříčí has the potential to be one of the most memorable concerts of the festival. On June 5, OK Percussion Duo musicians Martin Opršál and Martin Kleibl, together with guests and students Tomáš Javora and Kryštof Vašíček performed in the normally inaccessible premises of the New Synagogue, which has served as a center of affordable shopping for years. The concert was held in cooperation with the European Festival of Philosophy, the Jewish Community of Brno, and the town of Velké Meziříčí. At the same time, it was part of the project From the Shopping Center to the Cultural Communitymore

This year’s 27th edition of the international music festival Concentus Moraviae is still at the beginning of its almost month-long program, yet in terms of dramaturgy it is not holding back at all. After the opening featuring Argentinian and Uruguayan tango in Boskovice and Balkan music in Ivančice, the festival brought the Arcadia String Quartet to the atrium of the town hall in Kyjov on Thursday 2 June, where they performed the String Octet in C Major by Romanian composer George Enescu together with their friends from the Transylvanian Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition to the members of the quartet (violinists Ana TörökRăsvan Dumitru, violist Traian Boală and cellist Zsolt Török), there were also violinists Vlad RăceuValentin Șerban, violist Mihai Oșvat and cellist Ștefan Cazacu. The concert was held under the auspices of the Ambassador of Romania to the Czech Republic, H.E. Antoaneta Barta.  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

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

The Latvian instrumental band Very Cool People recently released an album with the long title 50 Years of Influence + 30 Years of Cool Equals 13 Years of Music Hooliganism. In a few days they will come to Brno to present it – they’ll play on 17th September in Music Lab club. And besides the songs from the aforementioned album, you’ll also get to hear the complete new songs from the yet-to-be-released projects. The band, led by guitarist Elvijs Grafcovs, who answers our questions, has plenty of them.  more

After a covid break, the streets of Brno were once again filled with costumes from various parts of Moravia as well as other European countries. On the first day of September, the International Folklore Festival Brno began. Like the vast majority of festivals and regular events that could not take place in the last two years, the IFF also had a break due to government measures. And that is why this year’s festival chose the telling subtitle “We Live”. This time BROLN provided the opening concert in the courtyard of the New Town Hall, and there were two special reasons for this.  more

At the penultimate concert of its tenth year jubilee staged in the Fresco Room of the Comenium Elementary School, the Olomouc Baroque Festival presented an evening with the Musica Florea ensemble. The musicians, conducted by cellist Marek Štryncl, performed a selection of compositions by forgotten classical and early romantic composers Karl Kohaut, Jan Ladislav Dusík and Johann Nepomuk Hummel. The choice of composers was not random – this year it is 210 years since Dusík’s death and 185 years since Hummel’s death. Performing with the ensemble’s core members – violinist Magdalena Malá and Simona Tydlitátová, violist Lýdie Cillerová, cellist Marek Štryncl and bass player Ondřej Štajnochra – was Petra Matějová on the fortepiano.  more

The album Zavrzlama by Bosnian band Divanhana is so far in continuous sequence, the second best world recording of 2022 according to the panel of radio publicists of World Music Charts Europe. Divanhana will perform as part of the Lednice-Valtice Music Festival on 26 August in Hlohovec and a day later in Břeclav – Charvátská Nová Ves. The band’s pianist, Neven Tunjíč, is here to answer our questions.  more

On 18 and 19 August, the tenth anniversary edition of the Olomouc Baroque Music Festival included a unique dramaturgical treat in its program – one of the most historically important Czech operas which, however, does not appear much on the stages of opera houses or music halls. This is Dráteník (The Tinker), the first original Czech opera composed by František Škroup to a libretto by Josef Krasoslav Chmelenský. It was directed by Kateřina Křivánková, with costumes and set by Sylva Marková and music by Marek Čermák, and performed by the Volantes Orchestra, the festival’s resident ensemble. Singing roles were taken up by Matúš Šimko (Dráteník/Škroup), Lenka Cafourková Ďuricová (Růžena), Vincenc Ignác Novotný (Vojtěch), Zuzana Badárová (Liduška), Aleš Janiga (Květenský), Jiří Miroslav Procházka (Lána), and Martin Vodrážka (Kůl). The purely dramatic roles of Chmelenský – the aforementioned author of the libretto – and Hranatý the guard were played by Martin Mihál. The reviewer visited the premiere performance.  more

For the seventh time, the multi-genre music festival Brno Music Marathon proved that with precise organization and a little luck, an astonishing amount of music can be packed into one long weekend. From Thursday to Sunday (11-14 August), selected music halls, squares, courtyards, and city streets were filled with the artistic creations of countless bands, ensembles, and specific musical groups of all genres and styles. Lovers of rock, world music, jazz, artistic music, folklore, and improvised music were in for a treat. However, this year’s edition differed from the previous one in one crucial respect: 2022 introduced the first ever artist in residence of the festival, the violinist, flautist, and pianist Anna Fusekmore

For the sixth time, the Music Marathon has stirred up the streets, squares, and many spaces in Brno with all sorts of musical genres. These are not necessarily just concert venues, however. The Hausopera ensemble, for example, took their opera The Eternal Miss Pale to the Zeman Café on Friday 12 August. In three weekend performances there, they will complete their “Trilogy for the City”, a custom-made project for Brno that recalls its pros, cons, and above all some of its functionalist buildings.  more

As part of the Ibérica Festival, Catalan singer-songwriter Magalí Sare performed with guitarist Sebastià Gris from Mallorca on 17 June 2022 in Brno. The following interview was conducted immediately after the concert.  more

Just like every year, the Znojmo Music Festival brought its visitors an opera of its own production. For this year's 18th edition, subtitled Returning Home and Our Guardian Angels, the organizers prepared a stage performance of Joseph Haydn's oratorio The Return of Tobias. The Old Testament story about a tested marriage and a blind father was performed by the Czech Ensemble Baroque under the baton of Roman Válek and directed by Tomáš Ondřej Pilař at the premiere on 15 July 2022 (this performance was visited by this author) in the riding hall of the Louka Monastery – the reprise and last performances will take place on the following two days. Shira Patchornik (Sarah), Lucie Kaňková (d'Azaria), Dagmar Šašková (Anna), Theodore Browne (Tobias), and Adam Plachetka (Tobit) performed the solo roles. Costumes were designed by Ivana Ševčíková Miklošková, choreography by Martin Šinták, and lighting design by Tomáš Příkrýmore

Last year they were the stars of Brasil Fest Brno. This year they will be welcomed to Náměšt’ nad Oslavou, where they will perform on 25 July at the Folk Holidays as part of an evening called Poetry in Every Song. In the meantime, they have played at the WOMEX world music fair in Portugal and the sold-out spring festival Budapest Ritmo. Above all, they were awarded the prestigious prize of Songlines magazine, today’s most respected periodical in world music. They call themselves Ayom, and alongside Brazilian singer Jabu Morales, they are made up of musicians from Angola, Greece, and Italy. Our questions were answered by accordionist and composer Alberto Becucci, guitarist Pedro Bastos João, and of course the charismatic singer and drummer.  more

On Friday, 29 July, at the Folk Holidays in Náměšt’ nad Oslavou, the group L’Alba from Corsica will perform, combining traditional Mediterranean polyphony with the music of many nations, not only from southern Europe. Its album A Principiu, released last March, was voted by the World Music Charts Europe jury as the sixth best album from around the world in 2021. guitarist and vocalist Ghjuvanfrancescu Mattei answers our questions on behalf of L’Alba.  more

This year’s 27th edition of the Concentus Moraviae Festival is history after almost a month of music. The gala closing concert at the Zlín Congress Centre presented a program of songs by Ernest Chausson, Igor Stravinsky, Johannes Brahms, Richard Strauss, Leoš Janáček and Antonín Dvořák. Magdalena Kožená, mezzo-soprano and patron of the show, performed as a soloist. She was joined by pianist and conductor Sir Simon Rattle, flutist and this year’s Artist in Residence Kaspar Zehnder, violinist Giovanni Guzzo, violinist Rahel Maria Rilling, violist Amihai Grosz, cellist Dávid Adorján, and clarinettist Christopher Richards. Dvořák’s songs were specially arranged for this ensemble by the English composer and conductor Duncan Ward.  more

This year's 27th edition of the Concentus Moraviae Music Festival is slowly coming to a grand finale as a joint concert by flutist and artist in residence Kaspar Zehnder, mezzo-soprano and patron of the festival Magdalena Kožená, and her husband, pianist and conductor Sir Simon Rattle. On Friday 24 June, at one of the last concerts of the culminating festival, artist-in-residence Kaspar Zehnder, together with his friends Giovanni Guzzo (violin), Rahel Maria Rilling (violin), Amihai Grosz (viola), Dávid Adorján (cello), Wolfgang Klinser (clarinet), and Anaïs Gaudemard (harp), prepared the dramaturgy of Friday's chamber concert in the library of the Náměšť Castle.  more

Nikol Bóková, a native of Ostrava, has long been considered a unique talent in the field of classical music. At the age of nine, she played as a solo pianist with the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, and studying at the conservatory and then at the JAMU was a matter of course. But already during her studies of classical music, another of her talents, that of composition, took shape and gradually manifested itself. Together with her trio (Nikol Bóková-piano, Martin Kocián-contrabass, Michal Wierzgoń-drums), she recorded her debut album Inner Place in 2019 and immediately established herself among the Czech (and indeed European) jazz elite. Two more projects followed during the cover – Unravel (2020) for the same named line-up and last year’s Prometheus, recorded with extraordinary commitment by a remarkable studio line-up. Out of this and several subsequent concerts (among others during JazzFest Brno last autumn) crystallized also the quite logical expansion of her trio with the versatile and empathetic guitarist David Dorůžka, the Nikol Bóková Quartet. This line-up was also the birthplace of the latest album Elements, with which a new creative phase opens for Nikol and her partner and co-creator Jan Vala.  more

On 22 June, the Ensemble Opera Diversa visited the atrium of the Faculty of Arts at Masaryk University on Arne Novák Street with the program Dances in the Gardens, which continued the series of outdoor projects started last year. Bassoonist Pavel Horák and marimba player Martin Švec performed as soloists. The concert was conducted by conductor Patrik Červák, who stood in front of the Ensemble Opera Diversa string orchestra for the very first time.  more

Editorial

The Concert for Brno aims to support the construction of an organ for the new concert hall. It will be broadcast live on Czech Television and Czech Radio. The evening will feature violinist Josef Špaček, pianist Ivo Kahánek, the B-Side Band, and legendary opera singer Soňa Červená.  more

The musical Nine Crosses was written especially for the Brno Municipal Theatre. The story tells an old Moravian legend about a tragic act that took place in a small village near Velká Bíteš. The music for the musical was composed by Brno composer Robin Schenk while the script was written by Petr Štěpán and Miroslav Ondra. The world premiere of the new musical will be brought to the stage by director Petr Gazdík.  more

This year the Faculty of Music of the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts (JAMU) is again organising the prestigious International Leoš Janáček Competition in Brno. Young musicians will perform on the piano and organ at the 28th edition of this competition. The final rounds of the organ competition will take place in the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and in the Besední dům in the piano competition, accompanied by the Czech Virtuosi Orchestra under the direction of conductor Stanislav Vavřínek.  more

The Actors’ Association published the nominations for the Thalia Awards 2022 today. Several of them were awarded to actors and singers from Brno theatres.  more

Singer Hana Zagorová died today. She was 75. Zagorová came from Ostrava, but her education and early artistic career are closely associated with Brno. From 1965 to 1969 she studied acting at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts.  more

The first year of the international Jewish culture festival ŠTETL FEST 2022 begins on Friday. In its content and scope it will be the biggest Jewish culture festival in the Czech Republic. The festival’s programme will offer lectures, theatre performances, guided tours and several concerts. Some of those performing will be the Avishai Cohen Trio, Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi, Graffe String Quartet or Dominika Weiss Hošková. The festival will close with the Brundibár children’s opera performed by the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Cantilena choir. The motto of the entire event is “Dignity in Diversity”.  more

The Janáček Opera Company of the National Theatre Brno is calling an audition for a dancer for a role in the preparation of Franz Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow. The NTB will be staging the operetta directed by Magdalena Švecová and Martin Pacek, who will also be doing the choreography.  more

In addition to concerts, the international festival also includes events such as Kateřina Šedá’s Streetless Busking and the Marathon Street Food Festival. The festival’s artist in residence is multi-instrumentalist Anna Fusek. The event will also include a meeting of journalists from the prestigious World Music Charts Europe. The Brno Music Marathon is a key music event for the city of Brno as part of its membership of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network for Music.  more

A unique opportunity to play on one stage with such piano personalities as Renata Lichnovská Ardaševová or David Mareček is offered to all pianists, regardless of age and musical background, by a special and extremely popular event of the Brno Music Marathon called PIANOSTAFETA.  more

The multi-genre festival On the Boards, Pavement, and Grass will come of age this year, so the organizers from TIC BRNO have extended it for a whole week. More than 25 theatre performances and concerts can be seen and experienced for free in the open air in the center of Brno.  more