The Prague Spring Festival’s Big Numbers
The Prague Spring International Music Festival May 12-June 4 offers you music in a huge number of genres.
You’ll hear motets, Marian song forms, Chinese music drama, 17th and 18th century Spanish musical gems — to sonatas, symphonies, operas — even flamenco, rock, jazz, and shakuhachi!
Seven is your lucky number at this rich musical feast: 7 orchestras, 7 chamber orchestras, 7 choirs in 17 concert venues, across 27 days. So get out your calendar and follow along:
How Will My Country Sound?
This question springs to mind for everyone used to the traditional, official festival opening, with Smetana’s My Country (May 12). This symphonic poem takes you on a journey through the local countryside and its historical and mythical places like Vyšehrad castle, along the Vltava River, and to Blaník hill with its hidden knights.
Every year it resounds under a different baton and has a bit different atmosphere. Last year it was an unforgettable darker one, with German NDR Sinfonieorchester conducted by Thomas Hengelbrock. This time Estonian conductor Paavo Järvi arrives from a musical dynasty. His father Neeme charmed the audience at the opening of Prague Spring 1994 with this same piece.
On May 16 the ensemble Al Ayre Español with magnificent soprano Raquel Andueza presents 16th and 17th century vocal-instrumental compositions discovered in American archives.
The following day offers an impressive journey to the traditional roots of flamenco. This attractive connection of music, singing, and dance with extraordinary temperament is introduced in the project RETOrno, an ensemble led by dancers Susana Lupiañez Pinto and Antonia Canalese.
Pianist Javier Perianes, praised by The Telegraph and nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2012, solos onstage May 18; and May 19 with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.
A second Prague Spring accent is on the unique, and in a way also exotic, music from Lithuania, weighty compositions now stepping into the limelight alongside other rich European works.
One of the most appreciated choirs, the Kaunas State Choir sings works by Górecki and Martinů (May 24). The closing concert presents a contemplative piece by Latvian composer Pēteris Vasks, with the Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK).
Two ensembles perform music of his times for Charles IV’s 700th birthday, at historic Emauzy Abbey and St Agnes Convent.
First comes the 14th century Messe de Nostre Dame presented by the Czech female Tiburtina Ensemble (May 18). The next day the Belgian ensemble Graindelavoix performs Cypriot motets from the same era, of the manuscript Torino J II 9.
Young Czechs’ Debuts
Successful young Czech contemporary composer Miroslav Srnka introduces his Escape Routines (European premiere) May 21. Czech news has written about him as the most successful Czech composer since the days of Martinů. Just this January he premiered his commissioned opera South Pole in Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. The Polar explorer Robert Scott was sung by Roberto Villazon. What more could a composer dream about!
Currently he is assistant principal conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
For his May 24 debut he chose works by Schubert, Nielsen, Martinů, Kabeláč.
This young man has a wish to promote Czech contemporary music in the world, so let´s hope his plan will come through during his future career.
But for now, there are a full 27 days of fantastic music experiences waiting for you at the 2016 edition of Prague Spring.
— Hana Blažková, Opus Osm writer
Photo Credits: Prague Spring International Music Festival website, except Ciurlionis Quartet: website