Ana Maria Janků: promoting Czech music is a link to my past
Ana Maria Janků was born in Argentina, but her link to her roots and in particular to Czech classical music is strong, thanks to the influence of her Czech parents. Today she is taking her own and her parent’s Czech legacy further by promoting Czech music at the Czech cultural centre in Buenos Aires. When she visited Radio Prague’s studio a few days ago we spoke about the fulfillment this brings her and why her work at the center has become the pivot of her life.
So how many Czech did you find?
“Well, there are several statistics but it was announced by the embassy that there were around 60,000 Czechs living in Argentina. For us this was a big surprise because we do not know each other – all the Czechs. “
What kind of events do you organize at the Czech cultural center nowadays?
“Chamber music basically, because we cannot afford an orchestra, at least not for the time being. But I constantly try to obtain sheet music –partituras as we say in Spanish – to offer to very well-known local interpreters mainly of philharmonic and symphonic orchestras and we have several groups and several formations that every year interpret Czech compositions and slowly but steadily we are creating a need. Americans say create a need and go for it, so one of our objectives has been to create a need for Czech music. “
Apart from music, what about Czech film or literature?
“’Well, with films – again because of the rights – it is difficult, but there were many collectors who kept original copies, really historical copies 35 mm film reels, that were restored and we managed for example in 2006 to screen a series of I think ten films from the 1960s. It was the result of a chain of people of goodwill because the collectors offered these copies for free and we got the Teatro San Martin, the municipal theatre involved, with a nice projection room and they helped a lot to make it all come true. Regarding films I can say that at that time we were very happy because we reached all the schools of cinema in Argentina so we created a bridge to these younger generations to see films that they only knew by name in their copybooks. Nowadays we have Pablo de Vita –a local critic who specializes in Czech films, he has been here several times and works for one of the leading film journals. He contributes to our festival every year and week of Czech culture –so we always have a week of Czech films commented by him.”
“It differs. If you go to the north or if you go to Rosario you will find that they keep their costumes, they dance dances that perhaps here you don’t dance here anymore. I remember that a few years ago an official group of expats visited the Czech Republic and they were crying because they heard music that they hadn’t heard for years, music they had heard from their grandmas and they started to dance together because when you are abroad you keep doing what you were taught.”
And it’s the same with food?
“Yes, with food too, though with some differences. We were arguing the other day about the way to prepare goulash or to prepare knedliky (dumplings) but in fact there is not just one way of preparing those –each family does it slightly differently. But in Buenos Aires – to come back to your question – even within Buenos Aires the distances are so huge that there are communities who gather together but do not come to Buenos Aires city. So Buenos Aires the federal district has one profile I would say. I do not mean to discriminate –it is a reality stemming from life in the metropolis. People work, they gather in small communities and in many cases I can say there are more people attending our events that have no direct connection – no blood ties to the Czech Republic. And in the small communities of expats they continue eating the same goulash, dancing the same dances – but they stay in the time. I cannot speak against that, because I belong to that you know – it is in my blood – but there are different ways of getting in contact with your roots.” Ana, you were born in Argentina and you have quite a complicated family history.
Can you tell me how your parents got there?
So in a way you are fulfilling a legacy by your work – propagating the music she loved?