Arts news

Festival Boskovice, photo:

In this week's edition of the Arts we look at some of the cultural developments of the past week and some of the festivals underway this weekend.

Happy belated birthday to the "king of Czech music" Karel Gott, who turned 65 on Wednesday. Karel Gott has won numerous awards and continues to top the charts, despite his 45 year long career and captures the hearts of females of all ages. But the modest Karel Gott says July 14 is just an ordinary day and there was no cause for celebration. Away from friends and family, he spent it at the beach in Malta with his partner Ivana.

Moving on to an invitation to two festivals that are underway this week-end. The 13th International Music Festival opened this Friday, in and around the South Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov. The festive opening, attended by Czech President Vaclav Klaus and outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, will have performances from Czech violinist Pavel Sporcl and the Prague Chamber Philharmonic. For the next six weeks, until August 28, visitors will be able to attend a total of 27 concerts with renowned artists such as soprano Eva Urbanova, pianist Martin Kasik, and harpist Katerina Englichova. On the final day, the Czech Philharmonic honours composer Antonin Dvorak. This year, organisers hope to attract some 18,000 visitors.

And in Moravia, the little town of Boskovice comes to life as over 400 artists flock to the southern town to perform at the 12th Boskovice Music Festival, which opened on Thursday. Until this Sunday, the local castle, museum, synagogue, and amphitheatre play host to a large variety of cultural events. Lucie Klimova about the history of the festival:

"When Jewish quarter here was to be destroyed some people in Boskovice didn't want this to happen so they started this festival to support the Jewish quarter. Now, twelve years later, the Jewish quarter is saved and synagogue is after reconstruction so it is not only festival but it also has another meaning."

While the festival offers concerts, theatre performances and film screenings, Ms Klimova notes that many ensembles that now enjoy popularity gained fame thanks to their performances at Boskovice:

"From music we have many Czech, Slovak and German bands. For example from the Czech bands it is Egg Noise which plays funky jazz, Psi Vojaci, it is very old band about 20 years old. One of the bands, -123 Minut, is playing in Boskovice right now. Nobody knew this group before they started playing here. They became better known after their performance in Boskovice and now they are one of the best known groups of funk in the Czech Republic."

Karel Zich, photo: CTK
And we end on a sad note as we reflect on the popular Czech singer and guitarist Karel Zich, who died suddenly at the age of 55, following a scuba-diving trip off the coast of Corsica. Karel Zich, also called the Czech Elvis, had a rich repertoire of songs covering all genres of music including rock-and-roll, pop, traditional music, and spiritual and gospel. He performed the latter with the popular band Spiritual Kvintet. Radio Prague asked the leader of the band, Jiri Tichota, to tell us who Karel Zich was:

"Karel had an exceptional personality. His family introduced him to classical music at a very early age. This is why he knew so much about classical music and was an active member of the committee for the Chopin Festival in the Marianske Lazne spa town until his death. Karel was also a fabulous guitarist and piano player and one could tell he was very talented because he was able to pick up any musical instrument and play all genres of music, whether it was pop music, songs for musicals, or renaissance music. He also used music to help others. He participated in charity concerts and was active in numerous charity organisations."