International "Alternativa" music festival begins in Prague


With their dark ambient sounds, the Slovenian band Laibach are not exactly what you would call "mainstream" music. Not surprisingly, therefore, they are one of the headliners at a major alternative music festival, which started in Prague this week. We have taken a look at what the event has to offer.

Since its humble beginnings ten years ago, Prague's award-winning Alternativa international music festival has grown into one of Europe's largest and most important events for promoting alternative music. Without confining itself to any specific genre, the festival provides a platform for leftfield musicians to present their work to Czech audiences. In the past, previous performers have included international luminaries such as American saxophone-player John Zorn, and David Thomas, who was a founder-member of legendary "avant-garage" band Pere Ubu.

Besides internationally renowned artists, however, the festival also aims to showcase daring local musicians. As part of this policy, it held a Mala (or "small") Alternativa festival last week to give young Czech and Slovak acts a chance to parade their talent. The festival's Public Relations Officer, Lucie Klimova, explains:

"One feature of this International Alternativa Music Festival is "Small Alternativa", which is something like a mini-festival because it's just for groups from the Czech Republic or Slovakia, who aren't known in Prague and whose music can't be bought in CD shops and so on. The reason we want these bands who aren't famous in the capital city to play at Small Alternativa is to raise their profile and increase awareness about them."

In addition to musical performances, this year's festival will also include exhibitions, film presentations, and discussions. It is hoped that these will provide festival-goers with an opportunity to learn more about the different genres they encounter during the event. Concerts will be held in various venues around Prague. This time round, festival highlights include the cult gothic Slovenian combo Laibach, and the Czech Republic's very own Symphonic Jablkon, who are renowned for wild neo-classical arrangements...

The Alternativa festival runs until 6 December. Further information, including programme details, can be obtained at