Recently the Prague Spring Swing Festival packed out the Grand Hall at the Lucerna Palace, confirming the dance style’s growing popularity in the Czech Republic. Milo Saidl has been one of the pioneers of swing in this country as a leading member of scene mainstays the Zig Zag group. Today, however, Saidl is living out a long-held dream as a dance instructor in New York. When he came into our studios recently on a visit to Prague, I asked him how he had got into swing in the first place.
In today’s programme we’ll be playing tracks of off the latest solo effort by David Koller – the legendary drummer and frontman for the rock group Lucie. His album, Československo with L-O-V-E in the word in caps, was recently named album of the year for 2015. Československo is of course the Czech name for the former Czechoslovakia.
Václav Havelka leads the guitar band Please the Trees, whose fourth LP Carp picked up the prestigious Apollo prize for Czech LP of 2015. The Krkonoše-born singer and songwriter also collaborates with lots of other musicians and regularly promotes concerts by major independent artists. Our tour of “Václav Havelka’s Prague” begins in a passageway between the streets Spálená and Opatovická that many residents probably have no idea exists. It’s home to Super Tramp Coffee, a newish café with wonderfully peaceful outdoor seating.
On his Facebook profile Lazer Viking’s genre is listed as “slop pop/bubblegum punk/young oldies”. Going by his excellent 2015 debut Radical Karaoke, the colourful Czech artist – who previously traded as Boy Wonder and the Teen Sensations – has also been immersed in girl groups, doo wop, surf pop and possibly Ariel Pink.
Lucie Mikolajková is one of the unsung heroes of Czech writing today. She is one of a number of untiring and underpaid translators, working quietly and out of the public gaze to bring Czech literature to English speakers and vice versa. As a literary translator Lucie has taken up some pretty tough challenges. How do you translate Los Angeles Hispanic English into Czech without sounding absurdly artificial or bring the delicacy of lyric poetry from Moravia to English readers without resorting to the sickly sweet? Lucie answers these questions and
This Sunday, sees the premiere of a new play at Prague’s New Stage of the National Theatre by Prague’s famous Tap Tap Orchestra – a unique band mostly made up of disabled musicians. In the past, The Tap Tap were behind pop hits like Řiditel autobusu; they even held events in which they showed it was possible to break all barriers, for example, rappelling – in wheel chairs – from Prague’s massive Nusle Bridge. Even so, the new play, entitled Nefňuka, years in the making, is promising to be their most ambitious project to date.
A new documentary called “Na sever” (“Into the North”) recounts the story of over 300 Jewish teenagers from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, who found refuge in Denmark during the Holocaust thanks to the kindness of hundreds of Danish families. The story was discovered by chance just few years ago by a Czech journalist Judita Matyášová. Now, a Czech Israeli-based filmmaker Nataša Dudinská decided to bring the testimonies of some of these “children” to the screen.
A new book, which has just been released by the PositiF publishing house, is mapping the phenomenon of the so-called Šumperák, probably the most famous family house design in Communist Czechoslovakia. In the late 1960s and 1970s, the house was replicated in towns and villages all over the country and to this day, there are an estimated 4,000 Šumperáks to be found across the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Photographer and art historian Tomáš Pospěch travelled around the country to map the phenomenon and trace the history of the popular house. Ruth
The Art in Box gallery in downtown Prague primarily focuses on photography. In over five years of existence, it has put on exhibitions by the great exile photographer Jan Lukas, filmmaking legend Jan Švankmajer and scores of other noteworthy names. The small gallery is run by the Slovak-born curator, artist and journalist Nadia Rovderová. When we met recently at Art in Box, I asked Rovderová what had first brought her to the Czech capital.
In this week’s Sunday Music show we are profiling 22-year-old Czech singer Gabriela Gunčíková who will represent the Czech Republic at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The singer will perform the song I Stand, an English-language song with music by Christian Schneider and Sara Biglert and lyrics by Biglert and Aidan O'Connor.