Prague Spring international music festival

27-05-2001

This week's Arts programme is all devoted to the Prague Spring international music festival, which is now well into the second half of its fortnight/three weeks. The biggest classical music event in the Czech Republic and one of the biggest in the world attracts a considerable number of foreign guests. One of them is the American mezzo soprano Jennifer Larmore. The start of Miss Larmore's brilliant career dates back to 1986, when she sang the role of Sesto in Mozart's opera 'La clemenza di Tito' and since then she has been performing on the world's major opera, recital and concert stages. Operas by Rossini, Bellini, Mozart and Handel have figured prominently in her repertoire, and it was arias from these operas that she chose for her Prague concert. She spent one week in Prague, rehearsing with the Prague National Theatre orchestra with conductor Marco Guidarini, with whom she's been working closely - we share the same tastes in music, she said. Miss Larmore frequently sings in Europe, but also performs regularly in the United States.

Besides the big-name concerts and theatre performances there are several smaller accompanying events. Many British artists have performed at the Prague Spring festivals over the 56 years of its existence, and to remind music-lovers of their concerts in the Czech capital, an exhibition called British musicians at Prague Spring opened recently at Prague's British Council. The exhibition features photos of famous British personalities from the world of classical music, all taken by one photographer, Zdenek Chrapek.

I asked Milada Novakova, the British Council's Arts Officer, what was the main idea behind organising such an exhibition:

Zdenek Chrapek has been taking photographs of the classical music world for 33 years, and today he is regarded as the unofficial photographer of the Prague Spring. As he himself confessed, it is conductors whom he likes to photograph most.

Mr Chrapek told me that he liked conductors because they are very dynamic, and that each of them has his own style and typical gestures. Unlike soloists who tend to be more static, conductors are very lively as they use different techniques of conducting. I could not resist asking if musicians like Mr Chrapek when he's taking pictures. Some do, some don't, he told me, but he had made a special cloth bag for his camera to make sure he does not disturb the audience with the clicking of the shutter.

One of the musicians featured frequently on the photos is Libor Pesek, the former chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic:

27-05-2001