“Paralysed” Radio Orchestra reaching audiences through streamed concerts

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, photo: Filip Jandourek / Czech Radio

Impacted like so many others by coronavirus-related restrictions, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra has found a new way to reach audiences. It is relaying live video streams of concerts on Facebook twice a week, with the second in the series of 25 due for Friday at 20:00. I discussed the special project with orchestra director Jakub Čížek.

Jakub Čížek, photo: archive of Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra
“For now the concert life of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, as well as that of other orchestras, is literally paralysed.

“We were thinking about how to deal with the situation and how to offer the music to people.

“The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra is in a unique situation because we have recordings of our concerts, not only audio but also video recordings.

“During the past four years we have recorded about 50 single compositions on video and every concert at the Rudolfinum in audio for radio broadcasting.

“This is the pool of recordings we can now offer through Facebook Live streaming, so we have decided to start with live streams on Facebook every Monday and Friday at 8 pm and to try to reach people through this way and enrich their lives.”

How have you selected the programme for this project?

“I asked my head of programme to make a plan, because we have a lot of recordings.

“In the end we made a plan of 25 concerts with 33 compositions.

“We can offer Czech and international repertoire. We can offer some Romantic music, some 20th century music, but also some commissioned works by Czech composers that we performed during the last two years.”

Obviously everybody is affected by the coronavirus and the crisis surrounding it, but how specifically has the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra been affected?

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, photo: Filip Jandourek / Czech Radio
“Now, as I said, we are literally paralysed.

“We have to stay at home, so the musicians can’t really perform.

“This is not an easy situation for everybody, because this is a part of our lives.

“We can plan the next season and the one after that but for now we have to stay at home.

“We can’t even do studio recording because it’s also done with many people together – and this is not possible for now.”

When you consider a kind of acceptable date, or when would you be happy enough to go back to work, for the orchestra to be able to play again?

“I am rather realistic, so I think in the end of June we will be able to come back, maybe in the studio, to start our work behind closed doors, so without the public.

“We could start recording, maybe in a smaller cast. Then we’ll see.

“We have plans with festivals in the Czech Republic for May, June, July, but I’m not so optimistic about this.

“I will be happy if we can properly start the next season in September.”

The Facebook page of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra can be found here: www.facebook.com/SymfonickyOrchestrCeskehoRozhlasu