With Ash Wednesday, which this year fell on 14/2, ended for us the period of revelry linked to it – parades, feasts and other forms of entertainment. The four-week period of Lent has begun, culminating in the celebration of Easter. The last few days before Ash Wednesday are the time of masopust, fašank, vostatek and končiny. These are all Czech local names for traditional processions and costumed celebrations. The festivities have a very long tradition of celebrating the solstice, predating Christianity and reaching far back into antiquity. They take place in various forms throughout Europe. In South Moravia there are several places where the folk tradition of the celebration of fašank has become famous thanks to its specific form. The best known of these is the village of Strání, where for the whole weekend until Tuesday’s burial of basses a Festival of Masopust Traditions takes place.
The second year of the multi-genre festival Brno Music Marathon is approaching. The biggest summer festival in Brno will welcome dozens of international participants. Space will be given to various musical genres within the festival, from Balkan Brass bands via classical chamber and orchestral, jazz, folk, world music, rock, groups for children all the way to off-street busking. The musical programme will be supplemented by three performances of the new circus Collectif Malunés, street theatre, a magician and an acrobatic helium balloon.
The Brno group Anatoli focuses on the interpretation of Greek traditional music and the genre of rebetiko. The group has been playing for more than five years, and during that time a number of musicians of a wide variety of nationalities have passed through its ranks while its core has always been made up of Brno Greeks. The new album in the Stará Pekárna club.
At first, Slavík performed only with the experienced American musician Doug Hammond, who has played with stars of the American jazz scene like Charles Mingus and Sonny Rollins. Hammond’s compositions are based almost solely on rhythm, to which he adds his specific kind of singing that doesn’t follow the classic melodic line, rather playing rhythmic games with the drums. Here, one truly cannot talk about incomprehensible drum solos. The entirety together with Slavík’s piano felt surprisingly light.
At the end of November, a CD entitled Moravian Voices was released. Modest at a first glance, this album should definitely not miss out on your attention. This music carrier is a part of the Song of the Soul project, whose promoter is Jiří Plocek. Its aim was to introduce the phenomenon of Moravian singability with the example of some areas of Slovácko (Moravian Slovakia).
Julia Ulehla is an American singer, grand-daughter of Vladimír Úlehla, the Moravian musicologist and collector of folk songs and author of the legendary book Živá píseň (Living Song). Together with her husband, the guitarist with Armenian roots Aram Bajakian and former player with Lou Reed and Diana Krall, Julia set up the group Dálava, which works in a non-traditional way with Moravian folk music. They have recorded what is already their second album, The Book of Transfiguration, and we talked about it with Julia and Aram during their recent stay in Brno.
On the first Sunday in Advent in Veselí nad Moravou there will be a concert to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Brno Radio Orchestra of Folk Instruments (abbreviated to BROLN in Czech). For many this ensemble is an inseparable twin of Czech Radio Brno. The orchestra was set up in 1952 for the needs of the radio for two reasons: to create an archive of quality musical recordings and to give live concerts around the world. The recordings of BROLN on old LP discs were for many folk music fans one of their first encounters with this art form. BROLN produced artistically valuable arrangements of folk songs and began a trend that has continued to this day.
An interview between Kateřina Bajo, the main coordinator for the membership of Prague as a city of literature in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and David Dittrich, main coordinator for the membership of Brno as a city of music in the same network. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was set up in 2004 and its main aim is to support cooperation and international cooperation and creativity. Now it brings together 180 member cities from 72 countries from around the world. The cities fall into 7 creative areas – literature, music, design, film, gastronomy, traditional crafts and media. A city applying for membership in the network has to fulfil very strict criteria, and it must be supported not only by the commission of experts but also by all the member cities.
Brno is now one of the 180 cities from around the world that belongs to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Only some three dozen of these are focused on music. After Prague it is the second city in the Czech Republic to be accepted into this network. The awarded title recognises the work of artists, people working in culture, the diversity of genres and cooperation with the surrounding region.
The unique event ZUŠ Open will present on Tuesday May 30 up to a thousand musical, dance, theatre and artistic performances in 280 Bohemian, Moravian and Silesian towns and cities. Brno also will have an exceptionally rich programme tomorrow, culminating in a joint vocal performance of children with Magdalena Kožená on Moravian Square and a celebratory concert of the Mozart’s Children Festival in Besední dům together with the Brno Philharmonic. The Brno event is part of Brno’s candidacy for the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the field of music.
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.
We talked with Jitka Šuranská about a new album full of music, where she is the bandleader, but as she points out herself, she is only one of three equal elements. The Jitka Šuranská Trio consists of her, cross-genre mandolinist Martin Krajíček and multi-instrumentalist (educated jazz bassist) Marian Friedl. The three musicians started the debut tour of the first album Divé husy symbolically on 1 October at the Goose Festival in Boskovice, two day later they launched it in the Stará Pekárna Club in Brno. Until mid-October, they will be touring clubs, cinemas and libraries in Náchod, Rožnov pod Radhoštěm, Zlín and České Budějovice. Although the trio mentions folk songs as their inspiration, their author's coat is made of many musical styles, yet it is harmonious and interesting. And Jitka's own musician's path is important and inspirational for the final outcome.