Reviews

The parade of European and world saxophonists at this year's Jazzfest Brno festival stylishly concluded with virtuoso technique and inventiveness linking the various branches of jazz - the respected Austrian sideman and soloist Harald Harry Sokal with his Groove trio and the New York legend Chris Potter, who led his Quartet on the stage of the Sono Centre with his latest project - the album The Dreamer Is The Dream.  more

As happened last year, this year’s Easter Festival of Religious Music, with the subtitle of ‘Witness’, ended with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno. The Church of St. John on Minoritská street resounded to a work that was very close to the main theme of the festival – the story of Paul of Tarsus in the shape of Mendelssohn’s oratorio St. Paul.  more

The classical ballet Sleeping Beauty in four parts (prologue and three acts) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was performed by the National Theatre Brno on the stage of the Mahen Theatre.  more

In the week before Easter JazzFest entered its second half. Another series of concerts linking various forms of jazz from traditional through jazz-rock to funk begun with an evening of Brno and Prague jazz legends in CED Husa na provázku and followed by a double concert of the Jiří Šimek guitar trio and the stellar Poogie Bell Band with their unmistakeable (and resounding) frontman on his drum kit.  more

In including Patricia Barber in the concert series of the National Theatre Brno the director Filip Haberman has fulfilled not just his own dreams. The original jewel of the American jazz scene filled the Mahen Theatre with listeners and provided a spectacular musical experience. It was as if the space was predestined for the performance of this concert. The theatre auditorium underlined the singer’s grandeur, but at the same time created a chamber, almost club-like atmosphere. This time Patricia Barber travelled to the Czech Republic from her hometown of Chicago as a trio of young musicians – with the double bass player Patrick Mulcahy and the drummer Nat Friedman.  more

In the intimate setting of the Theatre Husa na provázku the programme director of Brno’s JazzFest, Vilém Spilka decided to hold two smaller chamber concerts. It was a good decision since the audience had an opportunity from up close to see soloists swapping with musicians and so become part of an interesting event.        more

In Brno’s Blahoslavův dům a concert took place drawing on the legacy of Jan Garbarek and The Hilliard Ensemble. Rather than copying the project from the nineties the ensemble Cantar Lontano and Gavino Murgia provided an authentic interpretation and it was a great success.  more

The sixteenth JazzFestBrno – along with other strong programming – offers a chance to compare the playing of several excellent saxophonists. Immediately on the opening night (23 March) the exquisite Joe Lovano will be playing in the Sono Centre, and on 19 April in the same place Chris Potter will have his chance to shine as several times winner of various journalists’ surveys of the best players in the world on the tenor saxophone. Listeners will have a chance to compare two European players on Wednesday 29 March, when on the stage of the Sono Centre the Czech saxophonist based in Denmark, Luboš Soukup, and his Norwegian contemporary Marius Neset, also living in Copenhagen, take turns on stage. And on 5 April a young Czech who is studying in Norway, Michal Wróblewski, will be performing with his international ensemble.  more

Love at a Distance is a contemporary opera that is nonetheless a clear classic. The National Theatre Brno production is of this excellent work by Kaiji Saariaho that has become part of the world repertoire. The selection and realisation of this production has uniquely and significantly scored in a domestic context.  more

The combination of modern jazz with tramp songs is insane at first glance or – as Vilém Spilka likes to say – a piece with a "Cimrman element". In reality, however, Spilka's new album Podvod (Deception) with adaptations of Honza Nedvěd's songs is a surprising but, in terms of musical tradition, a perfectly understandable project.  more

Nearly sixty students of the Faculty of Music at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts joined forces to launch two operas in their home-based Orlí Street Theatre. The evening belonged to a pair of chamber operas. The first one was the premiere of the short opera Mistrová, aneb Když bolševici zrušili Vánoce (Forewomen aka When the Bolsheviks Cancelled Christmas) by Petr Hala. And the opera The Little Prince by Miroslav Hába was performed for the first time after nearly forty years.  more

The music career of the violinist and singer Jitka Šuranská resembles a spiral motion. More than ten years ago, she chose cooperation in a duo with Jiří Plocek over dulcimer music, in which she was a regular member. After that, she played folk songs alone with a looper, and her first solo album Nězachoď slunečko was truly a solo album but with many guests. And now she is releasing another record. However, this time as a member of a new band, a very compact and bright sounding trio. By the way, the fact that the word TRIO is on the album cover – unlike the names of the band members – in capitals stresses that it is truly a band album and not a solo one. And in this lies both the greatest strength as well as some minor weaknesses of the recording.  more

The new family comedy Jak jsem se ztratil aneb Malá vánoční povídka (How I Got Lost or a Little Christmas Story) bets on more than just a music flashback to the sweet early 1960s. The Brno National Theatre has been playing it since its weekend premiere. A seven-member band directly on stage forms the audio and narrative backdrop to the sentimental journey back in time. Older folks will emotionally reflect on the sweet "sixties", while those younger will discover this decade. And that is what the new production of director Martin Františák bets on.  more

The prologue of the November echoes of the JazzFest in Brno was Wednesday's concert of a four-member star formation around guitarist John Scofield. Their five-week European tour promoting the new album Country For Old Men released in September of this year continued in the Sono Centrum.  more

It is like the state budget: It can be considered the budget of any new government only two years after its election. This applies in all aspects, starting from the perspective of an idea and ending with the purely practical, i.e. technical, promotional and organisational perspective. Two years ago, the Janáček Brno Festival was the proverbial tipping point. The new director of the organiser Brno National Theatre had only been in office for a year and the opera director Jiří Heřman for six months. A lot of change was going on at Brno City Hall (which remains the only major benefactor of large music and theatre institutions; it seems like this does not concern the regions and the state) and the existing dramaturgical nature of the event was dismantled after the festival. After two years, the concert series can be seen as a series of alternating successes, however, with some worrying symptoms of amateurism.  more

The Brno group Hrozně slowly approach forty years of age – they started to give concerts in 1982. After several cassettes and unofficial recordings, they released a CD with their debut album Už není čas [There Is No Time Left] in 2013. Their new album named Ticho [Silence], which the band was working on over the last two years in the Indies studio, brings a surprise with its cleaner sound and clearly audible tension in the structure of the songs.  more

Over the four years that divide the release of the first album Záhir, and the second one entitled O Písni [About the Song], Lee Band virtually moved on (previously they stated Adamov as their domicile, now it is Jedovnice), they got on a "wild card" to the Porta festival semifinals in Řevnice, and above all, they advanced slightly in their musical style. While the debut album was more about a folk-rock mainstream, benefiting from the sound of an electric guitar, the new album is dominated by acoustic guitars, often in combination with mandolin and other acoustic instruments.  more

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

Editorial

Greek Saturday at Veveří Castle enters its 9th season. The music scene will be represented by Musica Balkanika, Mydros, Martha and Tena Elefteriadu or Prometheus. In addition, there will be costume dance shows, dance workshops, an exhibition named "The Greeks in the Area of the Danube Monarchy", a theatrical performance and a programme for children. Through this event, the organizers want to convey to the public the cultural traditions and historical ties between Moravia and Greece.  more

As part of the final concert of the Bach on Mozart! cycle we will hear Baroque music by F. X. Richter in the St. Johns' Church. The Czech Ensemble Baroque will end the 7th season of the cycle with three rediscovered compositions by this distinguished Baroque composer, which have never been played over the last twenty five years. The concert will be conducted by the founder of the ensemble, Roman Válek.  more

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