Foreign Ministry bestows awards on those promoting Czech Republic abroad
Every year, the Czech Foreign Ministry presents Gratias Agit awards to those who have helped promote the good name of the Czech Republic abroad. Recipients include individuals and institutions from all over the world; this year, the list of laureates ranges from Marius Sczygiel, a Polish journalist, who published a best-selling book about the Czech Republic, to Pontifical College Nepomucenum, an educational institution for Czech clergy in the Vatican.
At a gala ceremony on Friday, Foreign Minister Jan Kohout awarded 12 individuals and one institution with the Gratias Agit Award for 2009. Among the recipients gathered at Prague’s Czernin palace, home to the Czech Foreign Ministry, was Geoffrey Piper, an English-born translator and amateur musician who lives in Luxembourg. He has been distinguished as a long term promoter and sponsor of Czech music.
Afterwards, Mr Piper set up a non-profit association Music Enterprise, which aims to promote Czech music in Luxembourg. He explained how it works:
“The easiest way is to invite Czech musicians to come to Luxembourg, which is what I do. I have about 30 friends who play in ensembles or who play solo and whenever I can find a concert opportunity I invite them to come to Luxembourg to play. That’s basically what I do. If I am very fortunate I can have an exchange so that a Czech musician comes to Luxembourg and Luxembourg musician comes to the Czech Republic.”
Another laureate was 90-year old Ladislav Matějka, who left the country in 1948 and has lived in the United States since 1954. Among other things, Mr Matějka cooperated with Radio Free Europe and contributed to the development of Slavic studies at universities in the United States.
Photo: Milena Štráfeldová