Wednesday, Sept 28, 2011:Dances on Guitar

Guitar, piano, and other instruments in the 12-member Archioni Plus orchestra perform Dvořák's Slavonic Dances

Dances on Guitar

Look at the Prague concert posters around the city these days and you’re sure to find Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances on almost every program. The music is beautiful, but performed almost everywhere, almost constantly.

That’s why it’s so refreshing to hear the work performed by the small orchestra known as Archioni Plus. With just 12 instruments, including a piano and even a guitar, the group of so-called amateur musicians achieve a fresh, new sound for the beloved old masterpiece.

This was proved at their concert Monday, Sept 26 at the Czech Museum of Music.

Listening to the Archioni Plus rendition with only a few instruments, and from only a few meters away in the intimate seating of the Czech Museum of Music, you can hear separation of sounds and discover new melody lines you may not have heard before in a large concert hall. Additionally, the guitar, piano, single cello, and sole double bass (comprising a third of this orchestra) contribute new color to the familiar sunlight-on-summer-leaves melodies which can only be Dvořák’s.

The Inside Story

Violinist Jan Weinert reveals to Opus Osm how a guitar part was added to this group’s unique orchestration: most of their music is arranged by their conductor Michal Macourek. “Our conductor knows us very well,” he explains. “We’ve played together more than 15 years, so he knows how we play” and therefore can arrange the music just for these musicians.

The guitarist Jáchym Štětka began his association with Archioni Plus by playing the guitar in the children’s opera Brundíbar, which Archioni Plus performs regularly with the Disman Children’s Radio Ensemble. Mr Macourek then invited him to play some concerts with Archioni Plus, Mr Weinert says, “and he stayed.”

It’s amazing that the Archioni conductor is the only professional musician in the group. “We’re all amateurs,” Mr Weinert readily admits, even though they all began playing instruments as children and just never stopped. “We all have regular jobs. For example, I’m a finance specialist with the Ministry of Finance,” he says.

“Our conductor is enthusiastic. So we enjoy performing, even though we have a lot more rehearsals and have to practice more at home. We enjoy playing — even though we’re not professionals.”

Undoubtedly, that wouldn’t make any difference to Mr Dvořák. – oo

–Mary Matz

Listen to an excerpt from Monday’s concert by clicking on the video below.

Photo Credits: Photos and video: Miroslav Setnička

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