Culture

 

First performance by German orchestra at Prague Spring opening a success

 
photo:  (radio.cz)
 

The 70th edition of the Prague Spring International Music Festival has just got underway. As every year, Tuesday’s opening concert at the Municipal Hall featured one of the greatest of Czech compositions, My Country by Bedřich Smetana. But this year, for the first time ever, a German orchestra performed at the curtain raiser for the biggest event in Czech classical music.

 
 

As has become traditional, Bedřich Smetana’s Ma Vlast, or My Country, was performed at the opening of the 70th Prague Spring at the Municipal House on Tuesday night.

This year the much loved piece was performed by the North German Radio Symphony Orchestra, helmed by conductor Thomas Hengelbrok – and they were a great success, earning a 10-minute standing ovation.

But why did the leading Czech classical music festival opt for a German ensemble to launch this year’s edition? That’s a question I put to Prague Spring spokesman, Pavel Trojan.

“Because it’s the 70th season of the Prague Spring festival. It was founded in 1946 after WWII. It was full of an optimistic vision after the war

“Of course it was the 50th anniversary of the Czech Philharmonic as well [it was founded in 1896]. And [Prague Spring founder] Rafael Kubelík brought this idea of freedom to the festival.

“So when we were thinking about what orchestra could open this special season – and which is as well the 70th anniversary of the end of the war – we thought it would be a nice gesture, a symbolic gesture, to invite a German orchestra, for the very first time in history.”

Before the opening the conductor Thomas Hengelbrok was saying that he and orchestra had put a lot of work into studying My Country. It clearly worked, because it went down extremely well last night.

“I would say it went very well, judging by the audience reaction and applause afterwards. Usually the first night audience is not so warm as on the second night of the opening concert.

“But I heard very clearly shouts of bravo and there were standing ovations. So I believe it was a super performance – very different to what we are used to but top quality and a different perspective.”

So all the orchestra’s preparation paid off?

“We had a press conference on Monday with Meister Hengelbrok and he told the journalists that they were quite nervous, because they realized well how important the occasion was.

“They did My Country at four concerts in Germany so they put a lot of effort into rehearsing it and preparing it very well.

“And today we had a few interviews with Meister Hengelbrok with Czech and German journalists and from what I’ve heard so far, he was very happy that it was received so well.”

 
Author: Český rozhlas Radio Praha
 
Added: 13.05.2015
 
 
 

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