Singer Elīna Garanča
Czechia’s largest festival of ‘classical and sacred music’
music, the St. Wenceslas Music Festival (SWMF), takes
place from 2-28 September this year and offers a total of
thirty-three concerts. Associate Professor Igor Františák,
the event’s director and dramaturge, will now take us
through what we can expect of this year's festival.
SWMF traditionally features spectacular projects
with not only top tier solo acts, orchestras and
choirs, but also wonderful productions of global
authors. What can we look forward to
at the nineteenth annual WMF?
The event’s grand opening ceremony in a cathedral
in Ostrava will be a celebration of the great musical
genius, Mozart, performed by the PFK — Prague
Philharmonic — in staging with the most qualified
Czech conductor for early music, Václav Luks.
The closing moments will then belong to Dvořák’s
cantata ‘The Wedding Shirt’. Another monumental
featured project will be the concert of Adam
Plachetka, a bass-baritone solo singer from Vienna’s
National Opera and Metropolitan Opera in New
York, where you will be able to hear Dvořák’s
Biblical Songs. In Ludgeřovice’s neo-Gothic pearl,
you will be able to experience a concert performed
by the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno with
conductor Petr Fiala. However, I can already reveal
that the star of this year’s festival will be the opera
singer Elīna Garanča.
The world-class mezzo-soprano singer, Elīna
Garanča, will visit Ostrava to perform at
the festival. This will surely be the greatest
music-related event of the year for
the Moravian-Silesian Region!
I hope that this will be one of the biggest musical
acts ever to visit not only our region. This will
be Elīna Garanča’s only concert in Czechia
this year and, as part of the festival, she will
be performing with the Janáček Philharmonic
Ostrava. Considering the uniqueness of this star
performance, it has become the most expensive
concert in the festival’s history, and I firmly believe
that it will be sold out.
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Your resident ensembles Collegium 1704 and
Collegium Marianum will also be performing.
What does ‘resident’ mean to you personally
and what projects did you pick this year?
Collegium 1704 has been with us and, in turn, we have
been with them since our collective beginnings, which
is something I highly appreciate. Over the years, we
have managed to put on some beautiful concerts, and
I daresay that this year will be no different, as we will be
bringing Händel’s oratorium, Israel in Egypt, to Ostrava.
Collegium Marianum will be performing two projects in
cooperation with the phenomenal violinist Lenka Torgersen
and influential Italian soprano singer Roberta Mameli. We
are deeply intertwined with both collectives not only as
musicians, but also as people — that is what I find uniquely
beautiful about our festival, that it offers amazing musical
performances but it also works as a platform for inspirational
meetings between musicians across countries and genres.
Your motto of ‘enjoy a church concert experience’
is also confirmed by your featuring of non-traditional
and jazz performances over the last couple years.
It must be quite the experience not only for
the audience but also for musicians who do not
commonly perform in churches.
Following their concerts, all of the performers always say
that it was something extraordinary — be they Dan Bárta,
Jarek Nohavica, Ondřej Havelka with the Melody Makers,
Ondřej Ruml, Beata Hlavenská, Cotatcha, Orchestra or
the protagonists of last year’s A Ballad for a Bandit. This
year, we will be hosting the first-rate Polish jazzman Adam
Baldych and the legendary Vertigo. After taking into account
our experience from previous years, I have decided to move
both of these jazz projects to the Hus Choir in Stará Bělá,
which has great acoustics and an intimate atmosphere, both
of which add a new dimension to chamber jazz.
Mr Františák, thank you for the interview.