The retro comedy musical Viki kráčí za štěstím (which might be translated as Viki Seeks Her Fortune), premiered in the Brno Municipal Theatre, in many ways represents a journey back in time. He audience returns to the work of Milan Uhde and Miloš Štědroň, which has now been supplemented by the work of the composer Karel Cón. On the surface it is an excursion into a true story which took place at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s, or the era of the swinging music of the sweet sixties. The same creative team led by director Juraj Nvota that was introduced five years ago on the same stage with the romantic musical Divá Bara now parades in front of the audience again.
The Jazzfest festival is coming to an end and after refreshment from the Czech and European scene came the genuine, almost classic American blues. The seventy-two-year-old giant Steve Gadd came to Brno with the guitarist Michael Landau, bass guitarist Jimmy Johnson, trumpeter Walt Fowler and on the piano and Fender Rhodes was Kevin Hayes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.