“Keep your fingers crossed” – Prague Spring to take place online for first time over Covid-19

The Prague Spring, the biggest classical music event in the Czech Republic, attracts top international orchestras and soloists every year. The 75th edition gets underway on Tuesday. However, due to the coronavirus situation, the festival will take a very different form this year, with no audiences in attendance and concerts being streamed online. I spoke to the festival’s spokesman Pavel Trojan on the eve of the 2020 edition.

Pavel Trojan,  photo. Tomáš Vodňanský,  Czech Radio
“Eleven concerts will form the basis of the alternative programme of Prague Spring festival 2020 which will be broadcast live from five concert halls in Prague and one in Brno.

“A special feature is that a solo recital will be given by the Canadian violinist James Ehnes, who will perform exclusively for the Prague Spring festival from the United States.”

You have chosen to bring this year’s festival online for obvious coronavirus reasons. Could you tell us how exactly that works?

“All of the concerts will be streamed live from our website. People from all around the world can visit our website and click on the detail of the programme or on our homepage and it will be available there.

“All of the concerts should also be available for catch-up, or delayed streaming for a period of 30 days.”

I understand Czech Centres and embassies are involved in the festival too this year. Could you tell us how exactly?

“Czech Centres are our important partner in informing people around the world that during this time of closed borders they can enjoy the festival online all around the world. Practically, this means they will be sharing the links and cross-posting the videos on Facebook."

The Prague Spring is celebrating its 75 anniversary this year. What is it like actually organising such a festival during the COVID-19 pandemic?

“Given this wholly atypical situation, the long-term planning and systematic preparation of the festival had to be replaced with various operating procedures. It is Prague Spring online, because it has really become ‘online’."

Will you keep some of these online features also on for next year?

“It will be a big test for us and the advantage of this whole situation is that we believe a whole lot of new people, a new audience, will access the Prague Spring festival precisely because it is freely accessible in their living rooms.

“If we learn how to make this festival available completely online and stream it world-wide, I think it will give us a strong opportunity to take something from it and make it [possible] next year as well.”

Is there something you would perhaps like to tell listeners who are thinking of tuning in?

“Keep your fingers crossed, because it will be really difficult.”