In recent years literacy experts have expressed concern that children are not reading enough for pleasure and that many youngsters are never read to by their parents. They claim that children who are left to fill their own time, watching TV and playing computer games may be at a serious disadvantage later on in life. In an effort to offset this alarming trend a Czech NGO is organizing an annual week of events to provide inspiration for a habit that may turnaround a child’s life.
The three-day United Islands music festival, which gets underway in Prague on Thursday night, is being held this year for the 10th time. Performers will include visiting acts such as U.S. soul artist Aloe Blacc and Irish singer-songwriter Cathy Davey, as well as local outfits like Midi Lidi and the Plastic People of the Universe. However, the free event isn’t actually taking place on an island this year. As final preparations were underway, I spoke to United Islands organizer David Gaydečka.
Marie Gabánková is a noted portrait artist, painter and teacher. She was born in Ostrava and left Czechoslovakia with her family shortly after the Soviet invasion of 1968, aged just seventeen. She has lived in Canada ever since and has had a book of her works published in England, and had such noted figures as singer-songwriter Karel Kryl and writer Josef Škvorecký sit down for portraits. When I met up with her I began by asking Marie what memories she has of her youth in Czechoslovakia.
Musician Tomáš Kelar’s career began as drummer with the Welsh band Mountaineers, who rubbed shoulders with some big names when they signed to Mute Records. Now living back home in the Czech Republic, Kelar is a member of the highly regarded electronic group Midi Lidi and also produces the female rappers Čokovoko.
In this week’s In Focus, we look at the success of a new Czech documentary called Fulmaya, the Girl with Skinny Legs. The film is a portrait of Slovak actress and musician Dorota Nvotová and how she chose a path less travelled: life in Nepal for six years where she worked as a guide and above all helped to raise funds for children at a local orphanage.
Anyone who has been to Prague is extremely likely to have seen some of the work of artist Jiří Votruba. Posters, postcards and t-shirts bearing his distinctive brightly-coloured images of Franz Kafka, the Golem, and Prague landmarks are on sale throughout the city. Indeed, they themselves help form the image of the Czech capital for many visitors.
Singer and songwriter Zuzana Michnová is one of the most distinct vocalists of the Czech folk rock scene. For many years, she was part of the legendary band Marsyas, and has also released an acclaimed solo album. After a long break, the band recently made a comeback, and can again be seen – and heard – in clubs across the country.
Today in Mailbox: Listeners’ response to Radio Prague’s special 90th anniversary broadcast; Bohemian crown jewels; listeners’ quiz question. Listeners quoted: Stephen Mason, Iain Cameron, Bernard Grondin, Jayanta Chakrabarty, Alf Persson, Henrik Klemetz, Ted Schuerzinger, Henk Poortvliet, David Eldridge, Hans Verner Lollike, Ian Morrison, and Mary Lou Krenek.