Summer Festivities of Early Music kick off in Prague

The annual Summer Festivities of Early Music get underway in Prague on Tuesday evening, bringing historical music to unique venues around the Czech capital. I discussed the event with its director Josefína Knoblochová and I first asked her about the opening concert by Germany’s Ensemble Polyharmonique:

“The ensemble Polyharmonic with its artistic director Alexander Schneider will perform in Prague for the very first time. They will appear in a vocal ensemble consisting of six members accompanied by basso continuo. Our opening concert is devoted to the muse Polyhymnia, because she is the muse of hymn singing and choral lyrics.

“The other muse of the evening will be Italian music, which inspired very strongly the musical culture of the 17th century in the west of Europe. So it means that this vocal instrumental program shows direct confrontation of Italian models with their echoes in Protestant Germany.”

The ensemble Polyharmonic | Photo: Christian Palm,  Summer Festivities of Early Music

The concert takes place in the Emmaus Monastery in Prague. Why have you chosen this particular location? Is it because of the acoustic properties of the venue?

“Yes, it is. The Church of the Virgin Mary and the Slavic Saints has perfect acoustic conditions for this type of program. What is also important is that the audience loves the spiritual atmosphere of this church. One cannot hear music in this beautiful church very often, so we are very grateful to the Emmaus Abbey that they let us organize the festival’s opening concert at this venue.”

Prague’s Emmaus Monastery  | Photo: Radio Prague International

Can you mention at least some of the other highlights of this year's Summer Festivities of Early Music?

“As it is typical for Summer Festivities, the festival evenings will take place in sensitively chosen historical venues in Prague palaces, churches and monasteries, which will give them the appropriate atmosphere.

“From the highlights I would like to point out ballet and pantomime performance named Terpsichoré, which is suitable also for children aged seven and over. It will bring together the Polish dance company Cracovia Danza Ballet and the Czech instrumental ensemble Capella Ornamentata.

“And of course, there will be the closing concert, which will consist of arias and ouvertures from baroque operas by Vivaldi, Gluc, Fux and Graun. The performers will be the festival ensemble in residence, Collegium Marianum and the French contralto Delphine Galou, who will together pay a kind of tribute to the mythical singer Orpheus, whose art was worshiped by gods, humans, animals, the elements of nature and creatures from the underworld.”

Summer Festivities of Early Music: Trailer