The international music festival Lípa Musica got underway this week with a performance by the British vocal ensemble King’s Singers in the Hejnice Monastery in North Bohemia. Over the course of the next few weeks, the festival will offer over 20 performances both on the Czech and German side of the border.
The King’s Singers, one of the world’s most respected vocal ensembles and two-time Grammy Award winners, performed to a packed baroque church of the Hejnice Monastery, located at the foot of the Jizera mountains. The programme was called From Moscow to London and took the audience on a musical journey across the continent, says tenor Julian Gregory:
“Tonight’s program was actually conceived about a year and a half ago. There were a number of factors that shaped it. We had a date at Wigmore Hall and we also had a trip to Moscow and to St Petersburg. So there was quite a strong Russian element at the time and we liked the idea of this musical journey from Moscow to London.
“So we have music from Russia, Finland, Poland, Germany, France and we end up, eventually, in England. The joy is that we are exploring various composers from different eras, from the Renaissance polyphony right through to the modern day.”
Part of the program was also a piece performed with the children’s choir Severáček from Liberec rehearsed during their masterclass with The King’s Singers. Countertenor Edward Button:
“One of the joys is getting to work in master classes and workshops with musicians from all over the world. And yesterday was no exception, with the children’s choir. They were so energetic and so professional in how they sang. It was lovely to work with them and give a little bit of polish to their performance.”
Launched in 2000 in Česká Lípa as a local festival of sacred music, Lípa Musica evolved over the years into a major events of its kind, attracting prominent musicians and ensembles from all over the world. Eight years ago, the festival extended its activities beyond the Czech Republic’s border to Germany.
“Our goal was to bring top-level art to the region where I was born, to show that our region is beautiful and rich in sacral monuments and to let local people experience something only people in big cities have access to.
“Of course there were sceptical voices saying it was nonsense to hold it here, in the former centre of uranium mining industry. Seeing the sold-out concert halls is proof that we have succeeded.”
Among the stars of this year’s event will be the Czech violin virtuoso Josef Špaček, who also works as the festival’s artistic advisor. Another highlight will be the closing concert in Nový Bor.
“The phenomenal Janoska Ensemble from Slovakia are celebrating world-wide success and they actually released one of the best-selling records by the Deutsche Gramophone label. So it will definitely be an extraordinary experience.”
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