Brno as a European centre of world music, headed by Milan Tesař

8 December 2020, 2:00
Brno as a European centre of world music, headed by Milan Tesař

After almost thirty years, Brno has replaced the German capital Berlin as the main centre of the European panel of radio music publicists World Music Charts Europe (WMCE). From Berlin public radio, where the founder of this platform, Johannes Theurer, worked until 30 November 2020, the centre of WMCE's  activities is moving to the Brno headquarters of Radio Proglas. Milan Tesař, one of its two current Czech members and head of the music section of Proglas, became the new secretary of the panel starting from 1 December.

The WMCE expert panel and the homonymous chart were established in the spring of 1991 under the auspices of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). It brought together leading music publicists focused on what is commonly called world music, originally from public radio stations, to which, over time, carefully selected colleagues from some – mostly non-commercial – private stations have joined. The requirement for membership is long-term work in the field, professionalism and professional integrity, and above all high-quality proprietary programmes, in which the publicist presents musical novelties. Petr Dorůžka (for Czech Radio Vltava) has been a member of WMCE on behalf of Czechia almost since the beginning, while Milan Tesař (for Radio Proglas) joined in 2019. The panel serves, among other things, to connect radio publicists with independent music publishers from around the world. The objective is to supply radio programmes across Europe with quality music that might otherwise fall off in the competition of commercial broadcasters.

In addition to the radio programmes of individual members of the panel themselves, an important and regular outcome is a chart of 20 best albums from all over the world, compiled once a month. It is therefore not a chart of sales volumes or playing frequency, but a vote of experts in a manner like various annual awards, taking place every month. The chart itself is regularly distributed to thousands of addresses around the world (media, agencies and festival organisers) and for almost three decades it has been an important tool for professionals in the diverse labyrinth of "global" music. You can find it here.

With the change in the leading position, not only the virtual centre of the panel has moved to Brno. Publishers from all over the world are already sending their CDs to Moravia, and shipments of these musical innovations will be sent out from Brno to all members of the WMCE expert jury every month. Currently, more than forty experts from 25 European countries take part in the monthly vote for the best album: from Portugal to Russia, and from Norway to Greece.

In addition to the monthly ranking of the best albums, the WMCE jury also publishes the year-round ranking, always at the beginning of December. In 2020, the most successful recording from around the world was the album Lina_Raül Refree, a collaboration between the traditional Portuguese singer Lina Rodriguez and the Catalan synthesiser player Raül Refree. The UK singer Sam Lee, well known for example from the Folkové prázdniny festival in Náměšť nad Oslavou, finished second, and the Bosnian singer Damir Imamović was third. Recordings from, for example, Iran, Mali, Ghana and Italy were also in the top ten. The Czech music scene has a double representation in the top 100 in 2020: Clarinet Factory finished in a beautiful 22nd place with their album Pipers, and a joint recording by Iva Bittová and the Sardinian experimental guitarist Paolo Angeli also narrowly hit the top 100 of the world's best albums in 2020. Thanks to the new operation of the WMCE panel in Brno, however, there is a chance that individual jurors will receive much more Czech music in the future than before. These days, new albums from the labels Indies Scope (CDs by the group Tara Fuki and Marian Friedl) and Indies Happy Trails (new record of the Flair ensemble) or the album Hluboko by the singer Milli Janatková are heading to them by post.

Milan Tesař/ photo by Jiří Sláma



No comment added yet..

The poetic title Květy nevadnoucí (Flowers Never Fading) hides the most recent publishing achievement of Jiří Plocek. This compilation CD celebrates a quarter of a century since the establishment of the Moravian folklore series in his GNOSIS BRNO publishing house, which released fourteen albums created between 1995 and 2005. And they are not just ordinary albums. Jiří Plocek's enthusiasm and feeling for song is indisputable, but there is much more coming from the recordings – for example, it is the enthusiasm of the singers themselves, which Jiří Plocek fuelled during the recording sessions, while letting them play and sing according to their own will and mood. I must also emphasise the choice of performers themselves. The names have really become iconic by now – František Okénka, Zdeněk Kašpar, Karel Rajmic, Vlasta Grycová, Jiřina Miklošková and many others. Unfortunately, some of them have already departed from this world. Others, which we hear on the album as gifted children, are already rising to become another generations of singers – which is the case of Tomáš Beníček. I'm intentionally mentioning the singers, but the album itself also has a high musical quality. However, all the songs are performed by exceptional performers. This also gives them uniqueness in the spirit of a living folk tradition.  more

Two years after the monothematic album Bleděmodré město (Pale Blue City), for which the Brno-based group Nevermore & Kosmonaut received a nomination for the genre-specific Anděl Award, the band released a new album with a mysterious name XCR-9. The subheading Písně do rakety (Songs for a Space Shuttle) reveal more. While on the last album we walked through the streets of the city of Brno together with Michal Šimíček and his band, this time the singer-songwriter, who has been using the nickname Kosmonaut for years, is taking us on a fictitious journey into space.  more

The album Folk Swings of the Brno-based B-Side Band is being vividly discussed on social networks. Can a big band take the liberty of to playing the "sacred" songs of Czech folk? And what if these compositions are sung along with the band directly by their authors such as Jaromír Nohavica, Vlasta Redl or Slávek Janoušek? However, while the above might have been able to have their say concerning the arrangements, Karel Kryl, Zuzana Navarová or Wabi Ryvola could no longer make any comments regarding the makeovers of their songs… We talked to Petr Kovařík and Pavel Zlámal, members of the orchestra, about how the album was created, why Ryvola's song 'Tereza' sounds like a Cuban dance, and why 'Podvod' ('Scam') by Honza Nedvěd is played only as an instrumental piece. The two guys have actually created new arrangements for widely famed as well as less well-known folk songs, which now appear on this album.  more

Tiché lodi ('Silent Ships') is not a band, but a project of the guitarist and singer René Müller, who lives in Brno. While he recorded his previous album Časy vody ('Times of Water' – 2015) working together with Roman Cipísek Cerman, his former colleague from the band Hynkovy zámky ('Hynek's Locks'), Müller is now appearing all by himself on the new album – as writer of the music and lyrics, guitarist and singer, or – in his case more precisely – narrator.  more

Until recently, this Brno singer with the shortest given and family names was the leader of the blues band The Weathermakers. He also led the ephemeral "tramping" group The Honzíci. However, the main thing that he attracts attention with – in addition to the guitars and other instruments that he produces under the brand Red Bird – is his original solo production. After the mature debut Město [The City] (2018), he has now made himself heard with a new album entitled Potom [After]. In the lyrics he goes down to the core again, being able to transform his personal problems into timeless stories and extraordinary poetic expressions. And even though he abandoned the blues form in most of his songs, the recording, in which Martin Kyšperský once again participated as a producer, has a blues nature by its very essence.  more