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Czech Republic: "Gypsy Soul" exhibition on view at Jerusalem Synagogue through August

8.6.2017 11:41
Works inspired by Romani music were performed at a concert in Prague's Jerusalem Synagogue as part of the KHAMORO World Roma Festival in 2017. (PHOTO: Lukáš Houdek)
Works inspired by Romani music were performed at a concert in Prague's Jerusalem Synagogue as part of the KHAMORO World Roma Festival in 2017. (PHOTO: Lukáš Houdek)

The opening of an exhibition of photographs by Mark Wiedorn called Gypsy Soul/Romská duše was opened in Prague's Jerusalem Synagogue along with a concert of classical music inspired by Romani motifs. Both events took place on 2 June 2017 as part of the 19th annual KHAMORO World Roma Festival held by the Slovo 21 organization.

Visitors to both cultural events were welcomed by Jan Munk, chair of the Jewish Community of Prague, which gave its auspices to the concert and exhibition. Conductor István Dénes chose works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Johann Strauss the younger  for the concert of classical music inspired by Romani culture.

The "Habanera" aria from the opera "Carmen" by Georges Bizet and the "Gypsy Melody" by Antonín Dvořák were also performed, with Romani soprano Bohumila Sommerová, who performs with the J.K. Tyl Theater of Plzeň, on the bill. Dénes, who was the music director of the theater in Trier from 1995-2008, accompanied her on piano.

Michael Jelden, a Romani musician from Germany who, since debuting in 1985, has performed in ensembles and as a soloist in more than 25 countries worldwide captivated the audience with his virtuosity on the violin. The concert ended with the international Romani anthem "Gelem, gelem".

Exhibition of photographs by Mark Wiedorn

Mark Wiedorn is an American photographer from New Orleans who currently works in Prague as a lecturer at the Anglo-American University. He has confirmed through his exhibition that in art there are no borders between nations or states.

Most of his photographs being exhibited at the Jerusalem Synagogue were taken during the KHAMORO World Roma Festival over the course of several years. "When I moved to Prague a couple of years ago, I met Romani people, made friends with them, and began to get to know their culture, dance and music," he told news server Romea.cz.

"Their life has captivated me, the energy that they radiate is inspiring to me," the photographer said. The exhibition was previously shown at the Stellart Gallery, which is owned by a member of the Jewish Community in Prague who then had the idea of the photographs being shown at the synagogue during KHAMORO.

"Romani and Jewish people are connected by the experience of a long history of persecution and victimization," Wiedorn explained. "I also wanted to show a different perspective on Romani people and attempt to adjust the general opinion of them which, in my opinion, is mainly negative because of how they are depicted by the media."

"Romani people here continue to face exclusion, open hatred and racism, which is why I decided to show positive aspects of their culture," says Wiedorn, who advises that other artists who are inspired by Romani culture "Follow their feelings and work on themselves." The Jerusalem Synagogue is open to the public during the summer months, and "Gypsy Soul" will be there until the end of August.

Martin Oláh, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Khamoro, Hudba, Výstava, Zábava



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