The large-scale regional exhibition taking place in two South Bohemian and two Upper Austrian cities hit the first snag within days of the grand opening. Part of the exhibit in the small town of Vyšší Brod, which is dedicated to the houses of worship in the region, sparked intense criticism for displaying works dating back to darker days in history.
My guest in today’s Arts is violinist Josef Špaček, who has emerged as one of the Czech Republic’s most talented virtuosos. Špaček – a graduate from the Juilliard School – is a concertmaster with the Czech Philharmonic and in less than a fortnight he will be performing at the Prague Spring International Music Festival. He has also just released his debut CD with recordings of Prokofiev, Janáček and Smetana.
The exhibition Ivan Lendl: Alfons Mucha has been drawing big crowds since it opened its doors earlier this month. On Monday the Czech-born tennis legend himself visited the Prague show, which comprises his priceless collection of posters by the Art Nouveau master. Lendl also unveiled another valuable object: the Davis Cup.
My guest today is Marketa Goetz Stankiewicz, a professor emerita at the University of British Columbia. Born in 1927 in the Czech town of Liberec, Marketa left Czechoslovakia following the communist putsch in 1948. She established herself in Canada as a professor of comparative literature, author and essayist, focusing in particular on publishing samizdat literature, and also writing about the work of Czech playwrights such as Pavel Kohout, Josef Topol, Ivan Klíma, and her friend the former president Václav Havel.
The Prague-based rock band Schodiště, formerly known as Nahoru po schodišti dolů band, this year marks 30 years on stage. Founded at the height of the new wave, the band with its original sound and melancholic lyrics, somewhat undermined by their irony and sarcasm, has evolved into a steady fixture of the Czech rock scene.
The Czech Photo Gallery at Prague’s Újezd this week launched the first in a series of “Best of” exhibitions beginning with the Nude. Curators for the opening show chose work by five well-known photographers, the late Taras Kuščynskyj, Jan Saudek, Robert Vano, Pavel Brunclík and Antonín Tesař. The nudes range from lyrical and romantic, to erotic and homoerotic, and relatively brutal and decadent.
An exhibition spanning two south Bohemian and two Austrian towns is just about to get underway, with various religious and industrial venues hosting works that point to the shared roots on both sides of the border. As part of the extensive project, a number of historical buildings have been painstakingly renovated and will be open to the public for the first time.
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
Dan Bárta has performed with a host of Czech bands over the years, including the rock groups Alice and J.A.R., and Sexy Dancers, who were more in the funk field, while he has also appeared in musicals. But this programme mainly concentrates on the singer’s jazzy “solo” work over the last 13 years with Illustratosphere and the Robert Balzar Trio.