Czech Philharmonic to perform Concert for Europe on Vltava

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra will mark the Czech Presidency of the EU Council with a special concert on a floating stage on the Vltava River on Friday evening. The event will present some of the most iconic pieces of Czech classical music, but it will open with Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. I discussed the programme with the head of the Czech Philharmonic, David Mareček:

David Mareček  | Photo: Elena Horálková,  Czech Radio

“The Ode to Joy is the anthem of the European Union and with this concert we have a unique opportunity to perform the piece in its original form, because we have a big choir and a big orchestra.

“The audience will get the music score and lyrics, so that they can sing along. I think it will be a very powerful experience to sing with so many people in such a unique setting.”

Apart from the Ode to Joy, what else will be on the programme?

“There will be pieces by three I think the most famous Czech composers. We will start with Dvořák’s Carnival Overture, a very virtuosic and poetic piece.

“It will be obviously followed by the Vltava, the most famous symphonic poem by Bedřich Smetana, because we will be performing on the Vltava River. We will finish with Glagolitic Mass by Leoš Janáček, again an iconic piece.”

What is it like for the musicians to play on the floating stage? What kind of challenges do they face?

“The main challenges is weather, temperature and humidity. Tonight the temperature is set to be pretty low, around 16 degrees Celsius, and the humidity is obviously higher when you play near water.

“So it’s a challenge for all the instruments and all the musicians, but on the other hand we are used to perform at various open-air events and the challenge is nothing with the Prague Castle and the National Theatre with thousands of people listening to you.”

As far as I know, you have expanded the floating stage on the Vltava River so that it can accommodate more viewers. How many people do you expect to attend the event?

“It is difficult to guess, but there will be 1,200 people seated, who either bought a ticket or were invited to the concert. Apart from that, there will be many more people on the embankments and on the bridges.

“The organizers made sure that there will be amplifiers installed on the bridges and other places, so I think that everybody who wants to attend will hear the music well.”

Author: Ruth Fraňková
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