The Prague Spring Festival’s Big Numbers

Prague Spring

Everything’s ready for the pre-festival events and a huge array of fantastic music at 2016′s edition of The Prague Spring International Music Festival.

Prague Spring’s official 70th birthday celebrates big numbers: the 700th birthday of Charles IV (1355-1378) – the 11th Czech king, and Holy Roman emperor.

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.

Paavo Jarvi

Paavo Järvi

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.

Spanish Treasures
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.

Baltic Poetics
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.

Ciurlionis Quartet

Čiurlionis Quartet

First is the famous Čiurlionis Quartet (May 22). Then the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra with Modestas Pitrénas performs the Czech premiere of the spectacular oratorio by Bronius Kutavičius (May 23).

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).

Royal Grandeur
Two ensembles perform music of his times for Charles IV’s 700th birthday, at historic Emauzy Abbey and St Agnes Convent.

Take a look inside Dvořák´s summer villa Rusalka (still owned by his family and supported by Suk’s granddaughter) during a free concert at Suk´s home town of Křečovice, South Bohemia (May 29).

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!

Jiri Rozen

Jiří Rožeň

Making his Prague Spring Conducting Debut is young Czech left-handed conductor Jiří Rožeň, finalist in prestigious international conducting competitions – e.g. Nestlé and Salzburg Young Conductors Award 2015.

Currently he is assistant principal conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Piano and trumpet finalists in the Prague Spring International Music Competition compete May 13-14.

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

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