Kronos Quartet and Havels to perform special show at Prague church

Kronos Quartet

Prague music lovers can look forward to a treat on Wednesday. The US contemporary classical greats Kronos Quartet are set to celebrate half a century of existence alongside the Czech ambient artists the Havels, who are themselves marking 40 years together. The venue is a 17th century church.

The US-based string group Kronos Quartet have been on the go since 1973. Over the decades they have played with such well-known artists as David Bowie, Tom Waits and Bjork, as well as performing works by leading contemporary composers such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass and Terry Riley.

Wednesday’s concert in Prague is being organised by Václav Havelka from the venue Meetfactory.

“Kronos Quartet are one of the most famous avant-garde groups on the American music scene and they’re celebrating 50 years of existence with the concert this Wednesday in Prague.

“They will be playing pieces by people that they worked with through their career, for instance Laurie Anderson: there will be a piece by her performed during the performance, called Flow.

“There will be a piece by Michael Gordon, called Clouded Yellow. And also a piece by Terry Riley called One Earth, One People, One Love, from the cycle Sun Rings.”

Also performing will be Irena and Vojtěch Havlovi. They are a Czech married couple who – far from the mainstream – have been independently producing ambient music for four decades.

“I think they’re one of the most interesting musical groups of the last 40 years on the Czech music scene, but they’re quite unknown, because of the fact they do quite intimate and gentle music that is not really pushing through the commercial media.

“So they’re creating this interesting world of their own.

Church of the Holy Saviour | Photo: Štěpánka Budková,  Radio Prague International

“And they’re also celebrating 40 years of their life as a pair, as partners; not just in their personal life but also their musical life.”

Promoter Václav Havelka says it is no accident that the Havels and Kronos Quartet are sharing the bill.

“Bryce Dessner, who is a musician from the group The National, discovered the Havels through his sister, who brought him a record from her trip to Europe, 20 or something years ago.

“He was so amazed by the music that it inspired him in his musical life – and he later composed a piece for Kronos Quartet that was a celebration of the Havels’ music.

“They also performed together in the United States in the past, so there’s quite a deep connection between both groups.”

Also making the night special will be the venue, the 17th century Church of the Holy Saviour (Kostel U Salvátora) in the Old Town. It is a regular Protestant church that also hosts concerts and other events.