Czech EU presidency to open with composition “Stronger Than Yesterday” at Rudolfinum

Prague Philharmonic Orchestra

The Czech Republic is due to take up the rotating presidency of the European Council in July of this year. Alongside preparations for the daunting tasks ahead at a difficult time for Europe and the world at large, there are plans for a series of cultural and promotional events. I asked Marek Zeman, spokesperson for the minister of European affairs, what is in the pipeline.

“A number of cultural events will take place both in Prague and in Brussels. We are preparing events in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and through these events we are supporting established Czech artists and young talent.”

I understand that the Czech EU presidency will open with a concert at the Prague Rudolfinum concert hall?

“Yes, the opening concert will take place at the Rudolfinum on July 8th. Czech piano virtuoso Tomáš Kačo will perform a piece that he composed specially for the Czech EU presidency called “Stronger Than Yesterday“. He will be accompanied by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.”

And there is to be a “Concert for Europe” in September as well?

“That’s right. Prague Sounds is preparing a special presidency Concert for Europe featuring Smetana, Dvořák, Janáček performed by the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert will take place on a floating stage on the Vltava on September 2 and it will be open to the broad public.”

I assume you are inviting representatives from Brussels as well?

“Yes, on many occasions. At the start of the Czech EU presidency representatives of the European Commission and European Parliament will come to see our beautiful city and there will be many, many meetings throughout the presidency taking place in Prague, Brussels and Luxembourg.”

What about art exhibitions?

“There are some planned to take place in Prague and also in Brussels. For example in Prague the cultural program will take place in the center for contemporary art DOX which will include an exhibition, literary evenings and educational and family programs. Other exhibitions are in preparation – one of them in cooperation with Designblok –an exhibition called Terra Alba – and when Designblok ends the exhibition will move to the Moravian gallery in Brno. There will also be an informative outdoor exhibition organized by the General Secretariat of the European Council which will be about the EU, the work of the Council and the Czech presidency. It should be located outside the national Technical Library in Prague and run from July until the end of this year.”

That’s for the Czech public, but there are usually also art creations at the EU headquarters in Brussels. What is in the pipeline for this Czech presidency?

“At this point we have several cultural events lined up, for example an exhibition called Design and Transformation at the ADAM design centre in Brussels. There will also be a concert in Bozar on September 21, and the art decor at the EU headquarters is being prepared in cooperation with the National Gallery Prague and the General Secretariat of the EU Council.”

Do you know what artists will be involved?

“That is not yet official because we are waiting for the signing of the contract with the National Gallery.”

There are traditionally also gift items, promo items, handed out at the various presidency events – what are you preparing for those?

“We will have PR gifts prepared by the family glassworks Ruckl and the crystal glass items were designed by the art director of the glassworks Rony Plesl whose work is well known across Europe.”

Is there anything else apart from glass that you will be handing out?

“Yes, the official presidency memorabilia includes ties, pens and so on. The official logo of the presidency is very nice. In the middle of June there will be an official presentation of our logo and the events planned by our prime minister and the minister for European affairs."

I understand that there will also be European Days in the regions here in the Czech Republic, is that right?

“There will be quite a few things, but due to the situation in Ukraine we decided to cancel some of the regional events, because given the circumstances we do not want to spend money on unnecessary events when it can serve better elsewhere. So the events in the regions will include discussions with citizens and cultural programs in the evening.”

The motto of our last presidency was Europe Without Barriers. The motto of this presidency is ‘Europe as a Task” is that so?

“Yes, Minister Bek is using this citation of Vaclav Havel and it is a motto which indicates that we are following the ideas of the late Czech president Vaclav Havel.”