At the turn of the millennium, the group ‘minus123minut’ was among the most innovative and important of Czech bands, known for their live shows and heady mix of rock, jazz, blues and funk. The band was named Discovery of the Year in 1999, cut a few LPs, toured Europe, and then broke up in 2009 after the release of their album ‘Dream’. A few years ago, original singer-guitarist Zdeněk Bína and lyricist-bassist Fredrik Janáček reformed the band, along with Slovak drummer and vibraphone player Dano Šoltis. Today’s show features their newly released
Prague’s Lennon Wall has a new face and will newly serve as an open-air gallery. The famous tourist attraction, which before the Velvet Revolution served as a symbolic location of unofficial anti-communist protest, underwent a month-long revamp after being vandalised with vulgar graffiti. Prague authorities vowed to officially designate the Lennon Wall as a memorial site. Its new look was unveiled to the public on Thursday afternoon.
Prague’s historically working-class Žižkov district is perhaps best known today for its abundance of pubs (even by Czech standards) and colossal TV Tower – once voted the world’s second ugliest building. Lesser-known is the rich cultural history of what some natives proclaim the “Independent Republic of Žižkov”. Two of its proudest sons, Jaroslav and Miroslav Čvančara, have just published a sweeping illustrated book about the Prague 3 district, literally filling in the historical picture.
Czech violinist and folk music singer Jitka Šuranská passed away this week at the age of 41. The three-time Anděl Award winner trained as a classical violinist, but she also became a star on the folk and world music scene, recording a series of albums with traditional folk music. She was hailed by her colleagues for pushing the genre in new creative directions.
One of the highlights of this year’s Jihlava festival of documentary films was the Czech premiere of Kings of Šumava, which combines real interviews with animation to tell the gripping story of Josef Hasil. A native of the mountain range, Hasil was a border guard turned cross-border agent whose derring-do in smuggling defectors across the Iron Curtain led Czechoslovakia’s secret police to list him as the “king of Šumava” in their files.
Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, the Ministry of Culture will designate seven sites as ‘national cultural monuments’. All of them are tied to the Czech nation’s struggle to secure freedom or rid itself of Nazi or Soviet oppression. Among them is the Czech Radio building in Prague, a focal point of resistance both in 1968 and at the close of WWII.
The Romany singer Ida Kelarová and her Chavorenge Children’s Choir together with musicians from the Czech Philharmonic will perform a concert at the Phoenix Concert Hall in Croydon, southern England on Thursday evening. The program will feature the international Romany anthem Gelem, Gelem, and the choir’s best known song Hey Romale!
Ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, an eclectic group of musicians based in the United States has recorded a special album of songs written by Czech songwriters Karel Kryl and Jaromír Nohavica. Called ‘Steel Strings and Iron Curtains – Songs that Ignited the Downfall of Communism’, it features a number of subversive tunes never before recorded in English.