Prague Spring music festival opens

Prague Spring

The Prague Spring international music festival, the biggest classical music event in the Czech Republic and one of the biggest in the world, opened in Prague on Saturday. But besides the big-name concerts and theatre performances there are several smaller accompanying events. Alena Skodova was at one of them and brings back this report:

Prague Spring
Many British artists have performed at the Prague Spring festival over the years, and to the remind public of their concerts in the Czech capital, an exhibition called British musicians at the Prague Spring opened at Prague's British Council on Friday evening. The exhibition features photos of famous British personalities from the world of classical music, all taken by one photographer, Zdenek Chrapek.

I asked Milada Novakova, the British Council's Arts Officer, what was the main idea behind organising such an exhibition:

"We thought that many British orchestras and soloists and especially early music ensembles were guests at Prague Spring over the past ten years, and that the photographs that exist are the only document which stays after a concert. You have no memory of it unless you can revive in at a show like this. And we thought that Mr. Chrapek's photographs are excellent, and we like the idea of having something to remember the British art that was presented at Prague Springs."

Zdenek Chrapek has been taking photographs of the classical music world for more than 30 years, and today he is regarded as the unofficial photographer of the Prague Spring. As he himself confessed, it's conductors whom he likes to photograph most.

Mr Chrapek told me that he liked conductors because they are very dynamic, and that each of them has his own style and typical gestures. Unlike soloists, who tend to be more static, conductors are very lively and they use different techniques of conducting. One of them featured frequently on the photos is Libor Pesek, the former chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic:

"There are many dangers in photographing music, it's not very dynamic, it's rather static with a proverbial lack of lighting on the stage, so it takes a lot of skills and years of experience to be able to do that. But on the other hand except for jazz and popular music, classical music has its own speciality - I like to be rather funny about that - and that is that you see the pompous old faces sweating with concern to be able to finish the work. So I think there's much to thank to Mr. Chrapek for, because he's been our good friend and photographer for so many years."

The exhibition of British musicians at the Prague Spring festivals will last until June 1st.