A one-of-a-kind instrument called raketon made its first public appearance three years ago in a museum exhibit, but this week it had its debut in a contemporary classical music concert, together with Prague’s Berg Orchestra. I had a chance to speak to Raketon’s inventor Michal Cimala and to composer Jakub Rataj who mastered this simple and elegant instrument and wrote the first orchestral piece that includes it. Both of them perform on the raketon as well by plucking, striking and touching its two strings with bows, mallets and even milk
In the late 1980s, the city of Brno boasted a vibrant rock scene with one of its major fixtures being the band Dunaj. The group formed in 1987 by the singer Iva Bittová, drummer Pavel Fajt and other renowned musicians, and went on to release four studio albums before their eventual break-up a decade later. Dunaj, whose music style has been described as intense and challenging, had a lasting influence on the Czech indie scene of the 1990s.
The 21st international bagpipe festival opened in the south Bohemian town of Strakonice on Friday with a procession of the ensembles taking part winding its way through the city centre. Over 1200 musicians from 17 countries the world over are taking part in the festival this year. In the course of the next three days soloists and over 40 ensembles will be performing at various cultural venues around the city, including the courtyard of Strakonice Castle. The bagpipe festival which first took place in 1967 is one of the cultural highlights of the year and annually attracts thousands of visitors.
The Czech Republic on Wednesday commemorates the 46th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. A series of events held to mark the anniversary include a chain hunger strike and a gathering outside the Czech Radio building which saw clashes between civilian protesters and the occupying forces. The invasion of five Warsaw Pact armies quashed efforts by Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party to reform the regime in a period known as the Prague Spring, ushering in an era of renewed repression lasting until the late 1980s.
Communist Party deputy chairman Jiří Dolejš is perhaps not somebody one would expect to be a fan of The Plastic People of the Universe, an underground rock band persecuted in the 1970s and ‘80s by the Communist regime. Some of his followers are angry after Mr. Dolejš posted their photo on his Facebook page and have slammed the group in language reminiscent of pre-1989 propaganda.
The British duo Pet Shop Boys performed to a crowd of 2,000 at Prague’s multi-purpose Forum Karlin on Wednesday as part of their Electric World Tour as well as this year’s Prague Pride Festival – celebrating LGBT culture. The duo performed well-known hits dating back to the 1980s and 1990s as well as material of off their latest album, titled Electric. The opening band was Cartonnage. The Pet Shop Boys have performed in the Czech capital on numerous occasions; they first played Prague in 1991.
A charity concert is to be held on Wednesday to help raise money for the families of the five Czech soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan at the beginning of July. The event, in Prague’s Broadway theatre, will feature some of the country’s lead singers and an auction offering among others Jaromír Jágr’s hockey jersey and Lukáš Konečný’s boxing gloves. Charities have already raised 3.8 million crowns in support of this cause.
Singer Michal Hrůza, who was critically injured in a fight outside an Ostrava bar two weeks ago, is being transported to a clinic in Bohemia for further medical treatment. Hrůza, who suffered serious brain damage and was in a coma for several days, is reportedly making progress and is getting help from a speech therapist. The singer was brutally beaten up by two young men who were engaged in a fight outside the bar which he had just left. When Hrůza tried to stop the fight and called the police the young men turned on him, beat him up and left him lying unconscious in the street.
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