Jan Šesták was a music-obsessed mega-fan of Radio Luxembourg, tuning in every evening, despite the risks, in communist Czechoslovakia. Tony Prince was a top DJ on the Europe-wide station, which regularly reached tens of millions of listeners. This is the story of how the two met when Prince performed in Šesták’s native Brno on a 1970 tour, starting a friendship that continues to this day. It is also a story about the power of radio.
The Czech Embassy in London will on Friday evening celebrate its reopening after a two-year renovation project. The large-scale event will see performances by singer Lenny and artists František Skála and Petr Nikl, a light show provided by Prague’s Signal festival and drinks from the world-renowned bar owner Pavel Tvaroh. Ahead of the celebration, I caught up with Ambassador Libor Sečka at his newly remodeled office.
Libor Sečka is a seasoned Czech diplomat who has served as ambassador in countries such as Italy, Spain, Malta and China. At the start of 2016 he took office as Czech ambassador to the UK. On a brief visit to Prague, I spoke to him about his current mission, the life of a diplomat and how he won a bottle of wine in an ambassadorial bet on the outcome of the Brexit referendum.
After nearly ten years of bringing the best of Czech live performance to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival the Czech Centre in London worked to create a wider program bringing a whole season of exhibitions and live art to two cities in Scotland. I spoke to the director of the Czech Centre in London Tereza Porybná about the events being staged within the Czech Season in Scotland.
The latest album of Martinů’s compositions by one of the Czech Republic’s leading chamber ensembles, the Smetana Trio, has won a prestigious BBC Music Magazine Award. The album, featuring the complete piano trios by Bohuslav Martinů, was already been chosen as the magazine’s Disc of the Month in June 2016. The ensemble’s pianist Jitka Čechová received the prize on Wednesday evening at London’s King’s Place. The Smetana Trio already received the Music Magazine Award in 2007 for their recording of Dvořák trios.
Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša has made a dream come true after being been appointed one of the two principal guest conductors at the London Philharmonia Orchestra. Hrůša, along with Santtu-Matias Rouvali from Finland, will take up their shared roles at the start of the upcoming season. They will be the first conductors to hold the post since the death of Sir Charles Mackerras in 2010.
Talented up-and-coming Czech designers presented their work at London’s International Fashion Showcase for the fourth year now. Following last year’s huge success with their Fata Morgana collection, they pulled out all the stops in order to stand out amidst tough competition in one of the leading fashion capitals of the world.
Pavel Růžička and Petr Dvořák, known as the ORM duo, have produced music for some of the biggest Czechoslovak pop-stars, including Karel Gott and Hana Zagorová, but they are also considered to be among the country’s pioneers of electronic music. A selection of their independent work from the late 1970s until the mid-1980s has recently been released as part of the newly launched label Little Beat Different.
Legendary British singer Rod Stewart, who was recently knighted, will perform for the first time in Prague on Monday. His current tour is called From Gasoline Alley to Another Country: Hits 2016, comprising some his biggest hits from 1970 to the present. According to organisers, tickets are still available.