The Prague Spring International Music Festival starts on Saturday

Bedrich Smetana

The 56th Prague Spring International Music Festival, the largest classical music event in the Czech Republic, opens this Saturday. Each year, the festival opens on the 12th of May, which marks the anniversary of the death of Czech national composer, Bedrich Smetana. Alena Skodova has this report:

Bedrich Smetana
Saturday night's concert will feature Smetana's cycle of symphonic poems Ma Vlast, or My Country, and this year it will be performed by the Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Vladimir Valek. Every year, the festival closes on the 3rd of June with Beethoven's 9th symphony - the Ode to Joy is to remind people that music has no boundaries and brings nations together.

As of this year, the Prague Spring will also have a new director, Roman Belor, following the death of Oleg Podgorny last year. Mr. Belor told me more about this year's event:

"I'm really in a bit strange position because I will take over the leadership in July, that's after the festival. Nevertheless I would like to underline that within the framework of this year's festival there are some excellent performances and excellent appearances that cannot be neglected. We are very happy to have back the Royal Concertgebouw orchestra from Amsterdam, and there are other great concerts at the festival, we have excellent guests, we have excellent ensembles, including early music, so the choice is as usual quite large and everybody will be able to find his own choice."

Will there be any new faces at the festival?

I think that within the framework of this festival we are trying to expose to the public some new faces, including new artists representing the young Czech generation, we'll be very happy to continue in this effort in the future as well, because we feel there is a certain debt to the younger generation of Czech artists and of course, to be objective we have to compare their abilities with the young guests from other countries.

Will the festival include other performances than concerts only?

As usual, there are opera performances given for a parallel programme of the festival and we are trying to build a tradition having cooperation with the National theatre opera company and also with the State Opera in Prague.