Prague Spring international music festival gets underway


As every year, on May 12th the sound of Má vlast or My Country by Bedřich Smetana will launch the Prague Spring international music festival - a renowned festival of classical music and one of the biggest events of its kind in Europe, bringing together top orchestras, ensembles and soloists from around the world. I caught up with the festival’s director Roman Bělor to ask what is on the menu of Prague Spring’s 63rd year:

“We are inviting, as is our tradition, all Czech symphony orchestras and of course they are sharing the programme with foreign orchestras. This year we have a pretty strong British representation, having invited Hallé Orchestra Manchester and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Speaking of British representation, I also have to mention the popular violinist Nigel Kennedy.”

So what are the other highlights of this years’ festival?

“There are of course symphony orchestras from other countries and we are inviting, in line with tradition, the Slovak Philharmonic. The festival’s programme is very broad and we have some important recitals. We have invited Japanese violinist Midori or the excellent soprano Edita Gruberova and there are also a couple of early music programmes somehow connected with the Habsburg court.”

What about the opening concert, Smetana’s My Country. As far as I know, this was until recently the privilege of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. So who is going to open the festival this time?

Roman Bělor
“In the 1970s and 1980s this prestigious role was indeed reserved for the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra but that changed in the 1990s and the festival now offers the privilege to foreign orchestras and other bodies from all over the Czech Republic. This time we have selected the Brno Philharmonic.

And what about the closing night? What music are we going to hear and who is going to perform?

“For years it was a tradition to have the same programme, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, but that changed in 2004 and since then we always select one piece by Antonín Dvořák. This time the final concert will be performed by the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the closing piece of the festival will be Dvořák’s piano concerto played by András Shiff, one of the best world piano virtuosos.”

Are there any tickets still left at this moment?

“Yes, the festival is not totally sold out, so there is still a chance to get tickets. For example there are still tickets for Hallé Orchestra Manchester and we have saved some tickets for Wayne Shorter. So having mentioned these two concerts, I can invite potential concert goers to come. But don’t lose time!”