Prague Proms Festival

By Tracy A. Burns

One of the premier music festivals in the Czech Republic, Prague Proms launched its eighth year of concerts on June 16, and the performances continue through July 20. Participants include legendary musician and composer Wynton Marsalis and his Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, an operetta by the popular, fictional Czech character Jara Cmirman and a grand finale performance of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca.

Wynton Marsalis takes the stage

prague-proms-festivalMarsalis and his internationally acclaimed band take the stage Wednesday, July 10 as they celebrate their 25th anniversary. The ensemble will perform the jazz oratorio “Blood On the Fields,” for which Marsalis nabbed the Pulitzer Prize. The American musician from New Orleans has won numerous awards, including Grammies. He is also an accomplished composer of jazz, ballet, and modern dance scores.

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An operetta by Jara Cimrman

On Saturday, July 13, at the Municipal House, the fictional character Jara Cmirman is in the spotlight with the world premiere of his operetta Proso (Millet), which will be performed in Czech. Cimrman, invented by actors Ladislav Smoljak and Zdenek Sverak in the 1960s, has made a name for himself as a Czech playwright, poet, and composer, among other professions. The protagonist of plays at Prague Zizkov Theatre of Jara Cmirman invented yogurt, the compact disk, and the principles of the Internet, for instance. The repertoire of this renowned theatre revolves around his dramatic and vibrant life with its pseudo-scientific lectures and plays. Born in the 1850s to a Czech father and Austrian mother, Cmirman led an adventurous life that has taken him to the North Pole, among other places. Compositions by Johann Strauss, Edward Kunnake, Oskar Nedbal, and Franz Lehar are featured in this unique concert.

Concert at Saint Barbara’s Church in Kutna Hora

Saint Barbara’s Church in Kutna Hora near Prague is the venue for Cathedral Night on Friday, July 19. At 7 pm Pavel Cerny, a well-known organist, educator and organologist, will delight the audience. Named after the miners’ patron saint, Saint Barbara’s Church was built in 1338 and, after many interruptions, finished in 1905. It boasts many Baroque works of art, including three Baroque chapels, as well as late Gothic frescoes associated with mining. Its outer buttresses and gargoyles complement a Neo-Gothic façade.

The grand finale

Puccini’s Tosca is set as the grand finale at the Municipal House at 7 pm on Saturday, July 20, and features soloists from La Scala singing arias from the well-known work the Italian composer created in 1900. It is conducted by Marcello Rota and accompanied by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

The festival so far

prague-proms-festivalThe festival opened with a program of melodies from popular films played for an audience on Wenceslas Square on June 16. Celebrating his 80th birthday, Czech National Symphony Orchestra’s conductor Libor Pesek chose the program for the concert at the Municipal House on Sunday, June 23. Highly praised guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli performed with his quartet at The Loop Jazz Club on June 26. Marketa Irglova, the only Czech to nab both an Oscar and a Grammy, sang at the concert Hollywood meets Barrandov on Sunday, July 7.

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