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.
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.
The musical scene of the Brno City Theatre stages the musical comedy Lemonade Joe. Therefore, one of the most popular post-war heroes, who has been criss-crossing the Czech stages since 1944, returned to the local main stage last weekend. He became immortal in 1964 thanks to a brilliant film, a replica of which cannot be expected this time though. First of all, the theatre version contains many more songs, but the screenplay is different from the extraordinary celluloid version in some moments and in the final result. The new production directed by Petr Gazdík turned the well-known title into a wild narrative musical show that does not claim to be related to the famous film. On the contrary, thanks to its original humour and the method of its use, the new production tries to break through all the widely popular quotes to its own and legitimate version.
Luboš Javůrek's Bokorama has never belonged to the absolute best of our folk scene but it has long maintained a position of a solid band whose melodic songs have the potential to reach a wide audience. More than a band, Bokomara is a trademark that covers various Javůrek projects – ranging from the singer-songwriter duo with Petra Šanclová to – today already traditional – the joint concert programme with Naďa Urbánková.
A trio of concerts with the same programme as performed by Czech Virtuosi in early September in monasteries in Vranov, at the Grohova Street in Brno and in Doubravník can be considered as much a final goodbye to a beautiful holiday (a visit to the church delicately set into a beautiful landscape is in itself one of the noblest tourist experiences) as a step into the new concert season. Let's remind ourselves that the Brno ensemble with the difficult English-Italian name has been filling the space between large orchestras and chamber ensembles since its founding in 1998 in more than just the Brno concert life - so far they have performed a third of their concerts abroad. And they do so at a high level: its members are top players from the Philharmonic Orchestra and the Opera Orchestra, led by the concert master Pavel Wallinger from his stand.
Saturday night completed the 17th Špilberk International Music Festival with an original attempt at a dialogue between the jazz band Robert Balzar Trio with the exceptionally talented singer Dan Bárta and symphonists of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra. The final, fifth concert of the festival in the crowded courtyard of the Brno castle provided a dignified end to the August series of musical evenings with live and recorded music, offering a varied mix of different musical genres.
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 Slunce [Sun] Festival in Strážnice will be held for the twentieth time this year. Especially lovers of folk music and classical big beat have marked the dates of 12th and 13th July in their calendars. We talked to the director of the Slunce Festival Pavel Kopřiva about the history of the festival, its top moments and hardships, as well as what this year's festival season will be like.
The end of the first school-holiday week was carried in the spirit of celebrations. The 7th of July in fact falls on the birthday of Alena Veselá, a prominent Brno organist and a professor at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU), who celebrated an impressive age of 96 years on that day. The concert, organised particularly for this jubilee, was also the final event of the 39th Brno Organ Festival and as a celebration of the birthday of its founder (and now patron of the whole show), it already has a strong position in the festival programme.
Last weekend, the 74th Strážnice International Folklore Festival 2019 as well as the 37th Strážnice Children's Folklore Festival were held in the South Moravian Mecca of folklore. The biggest folklore festival in the Czech Republic enjoys great interest and it wasn't any different this year either, despite tropical temperatures, with tens of thousands of people coming back to Strážnice again.
On the 100th anniversary of the birth of poet Jiří Orten, the company ProArt prepared a multi-genre project called Ohnice – Where the Wind Is Dancing in the former Brno penitentiary on Cejl Street. The poetic production with verses of the young poet, which reflected his hard and short life, was premiered on 25 June.
The twenty-fourth season of the Concentus Moraviae international music festival came to an end after almost a month of rich musical experiences. Musical works, thematically labelled as the Concert of Nations, guided the festival visitors around thirteen picturesque Moravian towns and gave them a taste of key musical works of (not only) European nations. All this was moreover served in the interpretation of more than twenty world-famous ensembles. With the conscious transnational, cross-border concept overreaching the Czech border, the festival organizers chose the Golden Hall of the renowned Musikverein Concert House as a suitable venue for the closing evening. The extraordinary finals of the 24th season opened thus a series of Concerts of Czech-Austrian Partnership and at the same time announced the celebration of the festival's quarter of a century to be celebrated next year. In accordance with this symbolic overture of the concert, the main star of the festival was the patron of the festival and famous singer Magdalena Kožená, accompanied by the no less famous Collegium 1704 orchestra led by Václav Luks.
One of the biggest promises of the 24th Concentus Moraviae international festival was yesterday’s concert of the legendary Borodin Quartet, whose unique sound is the result not only of hard work but also collaboration with the composer Dmitri Shostakovich. This personal and interpretive trail still influences the group and is passed on to each new member. The programme took place in the library of the castle in Náměšť nad Oslavou , where in the 18th and 19th centuries it was the residence music-loving Haugwitz family. The music of Sergei Prokofiev, Joseph Haydn and Dmitri Shostakovich could be heard by the audience in a venue that was more than merely dignified.
In the summer months Špilberk Castle’s courtyard often resounds to the sound of music. Until September it is possible to combine a tour of the castle with a cultural experience. The organizers have tried to prepare a programme across genres that has something for everyone. Yesterday it was the turn of folk music. Despite the adverse weather the stage was dominated by the Military Art Ensemble Ondráš.
The last premiere of the Brno opera season for the first time ever and rather unusually combined two works. The Janáček Theatre presented the surrealist opera Three Fragments of Juliette by Bohuslav Martinů along with the small opera work The Human Voice by Francis Poulenc. The composed evening, with direction and stage design by David Radok, brought together two almost absurd worlds. And this connection was indeed remarkable dramaturgically, visually but also interpretatively.
The Polish ensemble Szymanowski Quartet at the Concentus Moraviae Festival presented works by their compatriots Karol Szymanowski, Stanisław Moniuszko and Gražyna Bacewicz in the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Řeznovice yesterday. The concert was part of worldwide celebrations of the two-hundredth anniversary of birth of Stanisław Moniuszko, which is considered by many to be the founder of Polish national music. The evening was held under the auspices of the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the Czech Republic, HE Barbara Ćwioro.
Visitors to concerts meet quite often with quartet compositions written by masters of European music. Haydn's string quartets are perennial stars in the repertoire of a number of ensembles and attention is also paid to works of contemporary European composers. Only exceptionally, however, can listeners take a peek into the musical cuisine of Asian or South American nations. Cuarteto Q-Arte decided to fill this blank space and dedicated itself to the works of Latin American authors. The programme, which they presented yesterday at the chateau in Slavkov u Brna (Austerlitz), consisted of works by Silvestre Revueltas, Alberto Ginastera and Astor Piazzolla. All these three composers combine elements of domestic culture with European training and influences or impulses of different genres.
Why be one of the many average bands when we can be a unique band? The ten-year history of the Brno group Kupodivu could be squeezed into this motto. In 2009, saxophonist Jaroslav Pilný and keyboard player Petr Šašinka first talked about forming a band. In 2019, the band Kupodivu [Surprisingly Enough] is releasing its first full-length album. Exactly in the middle of this ten-year period, in 2014, an important change took place when the original folk band was transformed into an interesting shape with keyboards, saxophone and bass, but without a guitar. The line-up, which resembles rather jazz bands in recent years, has scored at a lot of folk festivals in recent years. Kupodivu won the Porta award for authors, the Rada Notování [Council of Notation] award, won the Moravský vrabec [Moravian Sparrow], and won second place at the Mohelnický dostavník [Mohelnice Stagecoach]. At all these venues they performed music that rather than campfires fits into city clubs, and by far not only folk ones. The album Živočišné pudy [Animal Instincts] summarizes the band's work so far in a dignified way, underlined by the quality sound from the Zlín Studio V.
The Jerusalem Quartet is one of the world's leading quartet performers for many years and is currently one of the most cited chamber music ensembles. At the Concentus Moraviae festival, violinists Alexander Pavlovsky, Sergei Bresler, violist Ori Kam and cellist Kyril Zlotnikov performed in the Great Chateau of Mikulov Castle with a programme stretching in time from Joseph Haydn up to Béla Bartók. The concert was held under the auspices of the Israeli Ambassador to the Czech Republic, HE Daniel Meron.
Man does not live by classical music alone, as the Epoque Quartet, consisting of violinists David Pokorný, Vladimír Klánský, violist Vladimír Kroupa and cellist Vít Petrášek has been convincing us for twenty years already. For their Saturday concert, staged as part of the Concentus Moraviae festival, which took place in the foyer of the Pasáž theatre in Třebíč, the musicians also invited bass clarinettist Petr Valášek, pianist Karel Košárek and percussionist Oleg Sokolov. The programme of the evening consisted entirely of works by contemporary authors flirting in their compositions not only with musical minimalism, but also with jazz and other popular genres.
Znojmo Music Festival enters its 15th season this year. The programme includes concerts, opera performances, gastronomy and a programme for children. The opening concert, performed by the patron of the festival Pavel Šporcl and the PKF - Prague Philharmonia under the baton of Derek Gleeson, is dedicated to the reminder of the fall of the Iron Curtain. The culmination of the festival is the premiere of the scenic oratorio Saul by G. F. Handel. The title roles will be performed by Andreas Scholl and Adam Plachetka. The show will be directed by Tomáš Pilař.
The 165th anniversary of the birth of Leoš Janáček falls on today, Wednesday 3 July 2019. Janáček is one of our opera composers most frequently played abroad. TIC Brno dedicated a tram to him for his birthday this year, with the main characters from his operas graphically rendered by Brno artist Vendulka Chalánková. Janáček also has his own website, an educational trail, a memorial and an opera festival.
The autumn program of the Fléda music club in Brno contains big names of the music world. The August visit of Jon Hopkins', who will appear at the Brno Marathon of Music festival is already at its imaginary beginning. The autumn season officially opens with a September dance party featuring GusGus from Iceland. This will be followed by concerts of Hooverphonic with a new singer, Jan Blomqvist & Band with their complete Disconnected project or the Berlin legend DJ Hell with his Zukunftmusic composition. Rockers De Staat will bring their novelty titled The Bubble Gum, Movits! their most hip-hop record so far – the double album V, Kadebostany in turn will bring their album Monumental. Last but not least, Vitalic with Rebeka Warrior will also be featured presenting their KCompromat project.
The album collects folklore tunes and songs from the Moravian meadows. After several years of work on the Anthology of Moravian Folk Music, the Indies Scope label decided to continue with a new series of folklore recordings called Malovaná truhla [Painted Chest]. One of them is the album Kosecké písně [Mowers' Songs]. The album features Kubíci dulcimer music band from Horňácko, Women's Choir of Hrubá Vrbka, Chotár male choir from Horňácko and others.
Traditionally, the beginning of the summer holidays is accompanied by the festival Boskovice – for the Jewish Quarter. This year's 27th edition will be launched by the Les Bubbey Mayse quartet from France, inspired by Klezmer and traditional Yiddish songs. The musical program also features concerts of bands such as Neurobeat, Khoiba, Kittchen & Aid Kid with Tomáš Neuwerth or Panenské plameny.
The Kamenka Open multi-genre festival will revive the meadow in the Kamenná kolonie neighbourhood in Brno for the tenth time already. This year's guests include Funky Pappa, Jamiroquai Tribute Band and Pleasure Portable. Theatres will be represented by the Hysterie Theatre, Koráb Theatre or the Bez Pravidel Theatre.