Bartender, Another Rondo!

Opus Osm

Violinist Bibi Pelič brings classical music to a comfortable, contemporary setting.

Bibi Pelič takes her violin to a Vinohrady pub for an evening of live classical music and friendly conversation.

It’s 8 pm on a May night, and Zuzana is waiting for the 9 pm solo classical concert at the Bar and Books pub. She’s enjoying a glass of wine in the meantime. “I usually go to concerts in a concert hall or a club,” she says. “This concert is free; it’s something different.” The “Bach and Bar” solo recital by violinist Bibi Pelič includes a raffle and auction to help fund Mrs Pelič’s CD of violin concertos for children.

This spring night, parents of Mrs Pelič’s students, acquaintances from her corporate music workshops, fans of her CDs, and perhaps a pleasantly-surprised regular pub patron or two, bustle in from the rain-soaked streets. They’re pleasantly greeted at the door by a young man who helps them with their raincoats and umbrellas.

Bartender, another round! Informal saying (American English) to order another set of drinks for your group; Rondo Composition whose main tune is repeated several times

Meanwhile, over at a large table of six, occasional laughter bubbles up from the buzz of conversation. One woman tells Opus Osm, “I go to concerts of different types about 20 times a year. But this is a nice combination, to go out in the evening for a drink, combined with classical music” in a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere.

“This is the first time we’re trying live classical music,” explains Bar and Books manager Martina Peštová. A friend of a friend approached the manager and suggested the small, modern pub (one of two Prague locations) with its book-lined walls as a good venue for Mrs Pelič’s classical music. Mrs Peštová says her customers average about 27 years of age and older, and many are foreigners or expats. “You can hear a lot of different languages here, it’s nice,” she smiles.

At 9 o’clock, Bibi Pelič sets up her music stand and tunes her violin. As the cozily packed room slowly starts to quiet, she jokes, “They’re having such a nice time they don’t need me!” Everyone chuckles, and then Mrs Pelič begins her performance of six dances by Bach.

She introduces each short selection with a few words: “This Rondo repeats several times — maybe we could count them,” she smiles. Or, “This Allemande is dance music – you walk three steps and stand on one foot,” she explains, as the waitress glides silently among the tables, refreshing drinks. It’s easy to imagine nobility dancing to Mrs Pelič’s tunes, as most of the light in this dark red room comes from candles flickering on all the tables. The audience is silent and respectful; there’s only a rare blue flash from a muted mobile phone; no one smokes.

Opus Osm

The musician (center) meets her public in much the same way as Beethoven, et al, did.

“The Gigue is usually the last dance,” Mrs Pelič says. “The British claim it’s from Britain, the Italians, from Italy.” She concludes her performance to enthusiastic applause from the audience, and then begins circulating among all the tables. “How was the sound here?” she asks, noting, “I’m used to performing in churches!” Everyone gives her enthusiastic reviews, of both her playing and the location.

Soon the raffle begins, as more bottles of wine are opened and a few cigars are lit. Mrs Pelič is successful in her bid to raise funds to help crowdsource her Let’s Play Concertos CD. This special recording encourages young students to play along as soloists to an orchestra backing. It was launched at The Rudolfinum in October with a concert including several very young students.

So the friendly violinist dedicated to bringing classical violin to a wider, general public again plans to order another round of “Bach and Bar” – and again at “Bar and Books.” – oo

Bibi Pelič returns to Bar and Books for another intimate “Bach and Bar” concert and raffle on Dec 15, this time with cellist Mathieu Guillemin. Reservations are recommended.

– Mary Matz, editor of Opus Osm

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