South Bohemian Philharmonic finds temporary home at deserted airport

Pavel Šporcl with South Bohemian Philharmonic Orchestra

The days of the pandemic have been a trying time for artists and music ensembles worldwide, but they have also afforded bizarre and never to be forgotten experiences. The South Bohemian Philharmonic Orchestra found a new home in the deserted departure hall of Planá airport near České Budějovice, from where they streamed live concerts and recorded new albums.

As the sound of plane engines gradually ceased and passengers disappeared from the departure hall of Plana Airport – it found unexpected new tenants. The hall, with its excellent acoustics was turned into a temporary home for the South Bohemian Philharmonic Orchestra, whose own concert hall was undergoing reconstruction.

The reality was something out of this world that will stick forever in the minds of all who glimpsed it: a 37-member music ensemble performing Mozart’s Adagio at a deserted airport.

From each concert streamed, there is a CD recorded live, bringing the total number of recorded albums this season to twenty-two. The most recent was recorded with violin virtuoso Pavel Šporcl, a distinctive figure with his blue violin seen against the backdrop of empty skies and a deserted runway.

I’d never been to this airport, but the sound is great. I play a tone and it just flies. It’s a great place to perform. Moreover České Budějovice is my home town, I first performed with the South Bohemian Philharmonic when I was ten so you could say this is my “home” ensemble –I perform with them often and gladly.

The director of the South Bohemian Philharmonic Otakar Svoboda says the ensemble’s temporary concert hall has been a great success and he is happy they were afforded the opportunity to use the airport’s premises.

“They have been very accommodating in allowing us to perform here for nine months. The collection of albums recorded here form a Special Covid Edition of twenty-two albums which are very special since they made in a unique environment with very little remastering –they are practically live recordings.”

Chief conductor of the South Bohemian Philharmonic Jan Talich also says he is proud of the Special Covid Edition recorded with star violin players such as Šporcl, Iva Bittová or Václav Hudeček.

“I have been looking through the collection and I don’t think anyone ever recorded so many albums in so short a time. I am glad we managed it, and I think the recordings will be a testimony of the times.”