Reviews

Yesterday the biggest hall of the Brno Exhibition Centre – Pavilion P – was filled with an audience of a thousand. The premiere of the ballet West Side Story was completely sold out. The performance was given by the National Theatre Brno, the author of the original concept and also the original choreography is Jerome Robbins, the libretto is by Arthur Laurents, the music from Leonard Bernstein and the song lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. The Brno performance of this world-famous musical was directed by Mário Radačovský, who also created the choreography for this new production. The sets were designed by Marek Hollý and the costumes by Alexandra Grusková. The lighting design was by Tomáš Morávek while the projection was directed by Jan Fuksa and Martin Svobodník.  more

Přístav, many times winners of Porta and other folk festivals, are not prolific with new albums. In 2001 they made their debut with the recording Prašná cesta (Dirt Road), in 2008 they brought out Papírový drak (Paper Kite) and as recently as in 2017 their third disc PřiHrátky. This average of eight years between LP recordings has one advantage. In between the group plays intensively, work on themselves and so a certain progress should be visible in each new album. Theoretically this should be the case and fortunately with Přístav it is. And just as with the previous disc I stated that Přístav is becoming steadily more convincing, with this new one that feeling has deepened.  more

Původní komorní opera Jsem kněžna bláznů měla premiéru v brněnské Redutě.  Autorkami operní novinky, která mapuje soukromý i tvůrčí život první české spisovatelky Boženy Němcové, se staly skladatelka Lenka Nota a dokumentaristka Olga Sommerová. Libreto vzniklo na základě Němcové korespondence, básní Františka Halase, Vladimíra Holana a Františka Pavlíčka. Novou operu představil Ensemble Opera Diversa v Mozartově v pátek 17. listopadu.  more

Many comebacks tend to provide rather a nostalgic or even sad perspective on something that will never return. There are however exceptions that prove the rule. Gaia Mesiah returned with its own verve and perhaps even greater energy than before. There were goose bumps at Fléda on Wednesday both among the audience and on stage.  more

The last concert of the 49th Moravian Autumn International Music Festival took place on Saturday 28 October. Immediately before its fiftieth anniversary the festival chose as an overarching theme ®evolution and the inevitability of progress. For a month signs and posters in Brno have called out to passers-by and attracted them to this ambitious spectacle. After a quick look at the programme, it was clear that the pivotal musical works this year will be primarily innovative achievements of the first half of the 20th century seasoned with the musical delicacy that is early music.  more

Budoár staré dámy used to be a Brno-based band with a mostly female line-up. Both of these things have changed over the years. These days, the charismatic band-leader and singer Marta Kovářová (neé Svobodová) is currently accompanied by three men. And although part of the band still lives in the South Moravian capital, Marta herself got married and now lives in a “village in a cold gorge”. Her new role of married woman and housewife is projected into several songs “about cooking”. Life in the inhospitable countryside might be connected with the choice of Lubor Kasala’s poem Z ježatých hor (From the Spiky Mountains)  (“Mrazem to mrská a zimu pase” – “The whip of frost herds the winter”), the musical version of which the band used at the very start of their new album. It was a good move, because it is an energetic song with a very specific and colourful text (“…kde jektají mývalové umývadel a syčí hadi sprch” – “… where chattering raccoons was in basins and hissing snakes shower”). The dynamics, rhythm and track timing is masterful. The band, despite the fact that these days they no longer have a chance to rehearse together as much as they used to, presents itself in top form – energetic, aggressive, but through all the chaos still organised. There is not a single surplus note to be heard.  more

Brno said goodbye on Sunday to Marta Kubišová.  This made it the first city in the Czech part of the Marta Naposledy (Marta One Last Time) tour. It will end in České Budějovice on her 75th birthday. The Sono Centre, full to bursting, could enjoy not only a cross-section of her musical career but also a tribute to American pop music, given in her latest album “Soul”. As it has been for the last nineteen years she was accompanied on her final tour by Petr Malásek (keyboard) and a band made up of Martin Lehký (double bass), Budy Zbořil (drums), Josef Štěpánek (guitar) and František Kop (saxophone).  more

The organisers of JazzFest Brno tried something with the Canadian singer and pianist Diana Krall that they have not managed so far with Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Gregory Porter or Bobby McFerrin – to fill Brno’s DRFG Arena (which used to be Rondo). I have no idea how sure Vilém Spilka and co were but the artists name together with well-targeted promotion bore fruit in the form of a virtually full ice-hockey hall. Viewers who aren’t used to going to sporting events and pop concerts might perhaps have been slightly put out by the uncomfortable seating, but otherwise it was really well managed on the technical side. The sound was great, and even those fans further from the stage praised its purity and clarity. Just as perfect was the image on the two large screens, thanks to which even those in the far corners of the hall could enjoy the visual experience.  more

After a gap of five years the lyricist and singer Lada Šimíčková and the composer and musician (or songwriter) Ivo Cicvárek have brought out their second joint album. Thus the collection Hotel v tiché ulici (Hotel in a Quiet Street) from 2012 has not remained a one-off project. Taking the second album as the proverbial touchstone, the duo has passed with flying colours. Five years is plenty of time for putting together new material and the songs that made their way into the final selection and now have a chance to become public despite the name of the album.  more

Birthdays, and not just those on stage, bring a need to look back. In the case of London’s Placebo this is the case twice over, because they returned in Brno to songs that they have long avoided playing live. They kept their promise and at the Brno Exhibition Centre they gave a two-hour cross-section show.  more

Rossini’s penultimate opera Le comte Ory was in its time seen as highly immoral slapstick. In the new Brno production, performed in the historic building of the Mahen Theatre, it is actually a hilarious farce. Lenka Flory stands behind its directorial and artistic form, providing not only the needed humour and momentum, but also thanks to its basis in the world of contemporary dance also unusual movement.  more

This year the Beseda u Bigbítu (BuB) festival celebrates its quarter century and to mark this milestone it has added a little warm-up in the shape of an evening concert in Kabinet Múz called Beseda night. It gives a foretaste of this year’s Tasov and the evening will be introduced by the Šumperk-Brno group Acute Dose. Last year’s wind brought in the group Please The Trees and the composer and DJ Václav Čásenský aka Atrey.  more

Leaving aside the upcoming September bonus of the concert by Diana Krall, none other than Chick Corea with his stellar trio concluded Jazzfest this year. Together with Brian Blade and Eddie Gomez they brought this year’s event to a luxurious close.  more

Thursday’s successful  concert of the Brno Philharmonic in Besední dům was sure to please virtually everyone, listeners of different ages and tastes. And the enthusiasm was felt in the hall, even though the piano was sometimes played with the entire width of the forearm.  more

The Brno singer and author Jana Jun Šrámková claims that the name of their new album Ve vlasech (In Hair) has nothing to do with her profession of hairdressing. And it is true that more than scissors or curling tongs in this case hair is linked to the wind, which is penetrating and was already blowing on Jana’s previous album Nahá (Naked). However in the lyrics of the new disc it is water rather than wind that is the important constant. In individual songs rapids, paddles, boats and the ocean appear. But that is not the most important information. Although words are important in Jana’s compositions, the new album continues in the line established by the previous discs Intimně (2010) and Nahá (2014). Above the story is feelings, drawing with syllables, misty scenery, sketched with voices and coloured in by other instruments.  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

Doctor Fligg talked to us about one of the most talented composers and musicians of the first half of the twentieth century – Gideon Klein. He is at the same time one of the organizers of the project Gido‘s coming home, which commemorates a flat one hundred years from the composer’s birth.  more

The National Theatre Brno started its new season yesterday by staging The Tales of Hoffmann, an opéra fantastique by French composer Jacques Offenbach with French libretto written by poet Jules Barbier. Directing was undertaken by the recognized artistic tandem SKUTR, consisting of Martin Kukučka and Lukáš Trpišovský. The title role was presented by Luciano Mastro, his faithful companion Nicklausse (and also the figure of the Muse at the end of the show) was performed by Markéta Cukrová. The roles of Hoffmann's sweethearts Olympia, Antonia, Giulietta and Stella have were performed by Martina Masaryková, Pavla Vykopalová, Daniela Straková-Šedrlová and Andrea Široká. The character of Hoffmann's eternal rival (Lindorf/Coppélius/Miracle/ Dappertutto) was interpreted by Ondrej Mráz. The orchestra was led by Ondrej Olos, the choir by Klára Složilová Roztočilová.  more

The Brno Philharmonic launched its 64th season yesterday, which is also the second season of its current Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Dennis Russell Davies. Beside him, the leading Russian pianist Elisabeth Leonskaja also stood on the stage of the Brno Stadium. Brahms' Symphony No. 1 in C minor, Bartók's Piano Concerto No. 3 in E major and the Czech premiere of the composition DA.MA.SHI.E by the Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi's, connected with animated films of director Hayao Miyazaki, were chosen for the ceremonial start.  more

The fourteenth season of the Subscription Concert Cycle was launched yesterday evening by the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno with captivating music. A jubilant, almost festive programme was played in the Besední dům, following a performance at the St. Wenceslas Music Festival in Ostrava the previous evening. However, there were faithful and long-time spectators in Brno without whom the entire cycle would lose its meaning.  more

Yesterday evening at the piazzetta of the Janáček Theatre was marked by a concert to commence the 2019/2020 season of the National Theatre Brno (NdB). Promotion of the event ensured the most important thing for this music evening – hundreds of spectators who filled up the whole place. We should not forget the really wide age range, which is so much needed for future culture, especially at its lower limit (still in strollers).     more

Only rarely one single song is the main topic for an interview. In the case of the cellist Josef Klíč, the concert master of the National Theatre in Brno, this was offered. It does not happen every day that a  Czech composer and his song reach the finals of a worldwide competition. However, there were more reasons for our talk – memories of the late Jaroslav Erik Frič, Josef's contract at the Janáček Theatre and the upcoming new album.  more

For the opening concert of the 20th anniversary season of the Špilberk Festival yesterday, the Brno Philharmonic chose a dramaturgy consisting of proven as well as lesser-known pieces. The subtitle Romantic Carnival immersed all evening in the carnival spirit associated with celebrations before the carnival opening. The aim of the programme was to characterize the period of merriment, celebrations and masks by compositions that tell with their mood about this period of the year. The almost full-up castle courtyard had the opportunity to enjoy an unpretentious and appealing programme, which also with its lower temperature more easily approached that cold carnival period.       more

As a UNESCO-listed city of music, Brno has had four festival days full of music and dance. Tens of concerts and performances with hundreds of performers took place at twenty-two music venues. Music in the streets sounded on every corner, but most attention this year was attracted by four rooms by the artist Kateřina Šedá, in which artists of different genres and nationalities took turns. Another attraction was the performances of the British Motionhouse and No Fit State Circus, who repeatedly enchanted the Náměstí Svobody Square with their acrobatic pieces and breathtaking performances. Two large stages were also set up – Dominik Stage on Dominikánské Square and Django Stage on Malinovského Square, on which appeared artists such as Jana Kirschner, Monika Bagárová, minus123minutes or Jan P. Muchow & The Antagonists. Traditionally, the festival was accompanied by the sound of barrel organs whose players met in Brno as part of their 10th international meeting. This year, singer and multi-instrumentalist Tinatin Tsereteli (Hannover) and violinist Nicola Manzan (Bologna) as artists from UNESCO partner cities of music also premiered at the Brno Music Marathon. The atmosphere of the festival is captured in the video below.  more

Folkové prázdniny [Folk Holidays] in Náměšť nad Oslavou is a festival standing out with its dramaturgy, structure and atmosphere. Every season has its own theme, every evening has its own theme, and even some individual performances have their own themes. The long-time programme director Michal Schmidt managed this year to excellently balance Czech premiéres and truly extraordinary projects with reappearances and sure bets. This year's theme of Folkové prázdniny was About the Soul; however, this week-long event has its soul every year.  more

The group Nebeztebe (a pun containing both "Not without You" and "Heaven from You) literally shone in the Brno scene a few years ago. The five-member line-up, with its marked rhythms, seemingly above styles, celebrated victory at Porta and headed for the giant multi-genre festivals. Under bandleader Štěpán Hulc seemingly the band went to sleep and only returned this year with a brand new, three-member line-up. The new Nebeztebe is made up of guitar, violin and mandolin and has not given up on taking a multi-genre approach. Once more they are giving concerts and are coming out with the concept album Zásobování duše (which might be translated as Supplying the Soul).  more

One of the musicians who will appear at Folkové prázdniny [Folk Holidays] in Náměšť nad Oslavou as part of a special programme called Harfy nad Oslavou [Harps upon Oslava], is the Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda. In Náměšť, he will also give a solo recital as part of an evening called O duši s lehkostí i naléhavostí [About Soul with Lightness and Urgency]. In our telephone conversation – we called him to New York where he lives – we talked to Edmar Castañeda, for example, about a harp specially constructed according to his requirements, or about his cooperation with the Czech singer Marta Töpferová.  more

The Olomouc Baroque Festival has begun. In the local Jesuit Convent the seventh year of the festival opened with the modern premiere of the serenata Il tribunale di Giove by the Austrian composer Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf. The work was first performed at the birthday celebrations for the Prussian King Frederick the Great on 27 January 1775 and after a repeat in Wroclaw in 1777 it fell into oblivion. The Ensemble Damian decided to reverse this unfortunate fate, and led by the ensemble’s artistic director and director Tomáš Hanzlík they attempted to revive the work. Appearing in the solo roles were Leandro Lafont (Fate and Apollo), Kristýna Vylíčilová (the Genius of Europe and Minerva), Lucie Kaňková (Time and Fortune), Monika Jägerová (Jupiter) and Jakub Rousek (Mars). The costumes and backdrops were designed by the director Hanzlík.  more

Editorial

The musical Mamma Mia!, which has achieved great success on world stages including Broadway, is heading to Brno. MdB will introduce it under the direction of Petr Gazdík. Donna will be performed by Alena Antalová, Markéta Sedláčková or Ivana Vaňková. Furthermore, Dagmar Křížová, Barbora Remišová or Petra Šimberová. Men's roles will be represented by Martin Havelka, Igor Ondříček or Viktor Skála and many others.  more

The 23rd Plus 2019 New Music Meeting international music festival is dedicated to contemporary acoustic and electronic music and multimedia projects. This season will be opened by an expert in the interpretation of contemporary music – the  Belgian pianist Daan Vandewalle. The festival programme also features a gala concert to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gideon Klein or the Czech premiere of the Force Field  multimedia project. The festival is organized by the Music Faculty of JAMU.      more

In response to the passing of Georgian composer Giya Kancheli, the Moravian Autumn festival included an extraordinary concert in his honour into its programme. The concert, led by Jan Ocetek, will take place in the Church of Jan Amos Comenius (The Red Church).  more

Ensemble Opera Diversa is preparing a joint concert with flute player Michaela Koudelková. Works by the authors of the 20th century will be played and the premiere will take place of the composition Quasi lontano, which the ensemble commissioned from Petra Čtveráčková. The concert will take place at the Convent of Merciful Brothers in Brno under the baton of Gabriela Tardonová.    more

Kociánka Centre celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. One of the festive events is a concert in the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul, which will feature  the Magnificat choir and tenor Tomáš Jeřábek. The concert is conducted by Petr Kolař.  more

Concerts in the new season 2019/2020 are promising a varied range of genres. For example, Vlasta Redl, who will start the season, will perform as part of the musical evenings at the Brno National Theater. He will be followed by Vladimír Mišík & ETC, Věra Martinová, Anna K., Petr Bende, Bára Zmeková and many others.  more

VUS Ondráš Military Artistic Ensemble announces a selection procedure for the position of Coordination, Project and Programme Worker. The deadline for applications is 15 October 2019.  more

Concert on the 30th anniversary of Jan Skácel's passing away bears the title (D)Obrovský Skácel. Performers include Valerie Zawadská, Lucie Hilscherová, Zdeněk Klauda, Roman Hoza, the Czech Ensemble Baroque Choir and Slavonic Chamber Ensemble. The host of the evening will be Jan Hanák.  more

Fifteen years ago, the second theater building of the Brno City Theater was opened with ceremonial premieres of the musical Hair. The ensemble had been involved in musical production already since the nineteen-nineties, but at times it bounced the walls of the technical shortcomings of the building. The foundation stones arrived to Brno from Dolní Věstonice and from Broadway, NYC, and were laid on 17 November 2001. The theater is preparing to celebrate the anniversary with two major concerts that will commemorate all the productions presented so far. The celebratory programme is being created under the direction of  Igor Ondříček. The progamme will feature stars such as Dušan Vitázek, Markéta Sedláčková, Jana Musilová, Petr Štěpán, Viktória Matušovová, Petr Gazdík and others. The Brno City Theater Orchestra will be conducted by Dan Kalousek.   more

The premiere of a  new programme called  Step by Step is dedicated to the 65th anniversary of the military artistic ensemble VUS Ondráš. The programme is inspired by folklore material of Czech, Moravian and Slovak regions. The plot is the story of man from his first precarious steps, through the peak period of vitality, to the stage where his steps lose confidence. Year after year, all of his life. Alžběta Burianová took on the direction. The musical accompaniment was created by Jiří Slavík.   more