Prague charity concert in aid of victims of Sri Lankan terrorist attacks

Photo: Vivek Chugh / freeimages

A charity concert in support of the victims of the Easter terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka will take place in Prague’s Hilton hotel on Saturday. The event, organised by the Czech Centres and the Catholic Charity, in cooperation with the Czech Foreign Ministry, will feature the Zlín Philharmonic Orchestra led by Prague-based Indian conductor Debashish Chaudhuri. The proceeds from the concert will go directly to the families affected by the attacks.

Debashish Chaudhuri,  photo: Martina Schneibergová
More than 250 people were killed and hundreds of others were injured in a series of bomb attacks around Sri Lanka, targeting Christian believers who came together to celebrate Easter Sunday. The bombings struck three churches around the country and three luxury hotels in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo, killing mostly Sri Lankans but also a number of foreign nationals.

The idea to organize a concert in support of the victims of these tragic attacks was initiated by Martin Hovorka, the Czech ambassador to New Delhi, who approached the Prague-based Indian conductor Debashish Chaudhuri:

“I think the idea for the concert came through the suffering of the Sri Lankan people. It was quite normal and natural that someone would want to help. And in this case it was the Czech ambassador in New Delhi, Milan Hovorka, who called me from Sri Lanka directly and asked me: Debashish, I am here can we put together a concert in a very short time?

“This is very difficult with a philharmonic orchestra, because they have to plan ahead. But everyone just came together with such speed. It normally takes half a year or so but this was really just a matter of weeks. And when the director of the orchestra came to Prague we immediately decided about the programme."

Mr Chaudhuri teamed up with the Bohuslav Martinů orchestra in Zlín. Together they prepared a programme that would express their sadness over the tragic events in Sri Lanka but also convey hope for the future:

“We start with Edward Elgar’s Nimrod, which is itself an interesting piece both musically and technically due to the unresolved musical tensions in it, which leads towards this great phrase towards the end expressing hope. We go on to Antonín Dvořák’s Biblical Songs. This is a composition he wrote during the happiest parts of his life, when he was teaching in America. His good friend Tchaikovsky died just before that and his father did, too.

Photo: Vivek Chugh / freeimages
“That combined with the fact that he was missing his Bohemia made him in his happiest phase to write his saddest pieces of music, the Biblical Songs.”

The last part of the concert will feature parts of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, which he wrote during his stay in the north Bohemian town of Teplice.

Saturday’s charity event in support of Sri Lanka will also feature an auction of paintings donated by for the event by Mr Chaudhuri’s brother Raj, an artist living in Denver, Colorado.