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October 22, 2018
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Romani children's choir joins Czech Philharmonic for 17 November celebration

Prague, 17.11.2014 5:53, (ROMEA)
The Czech Philharmonic (PHOTO:  Václav Jirásek,
The Czech Philharmonic (PHOTO: Václav Jirásek,

The Czech Philharmonic is commemorating the events connected with 17 November through a grand concert in the Dvořák Hall of Prague's Rudolfinum on International Students' Day. Young musicians in the Czech Student Philharmonic, under the baton of Marko Ivanović, will perform Czech and international works inspired by heroism.    

The evening will culminate in a performance by the Romani children's chorus Čhavorenge led by singer Ida Kelarova. Together with another 120 young singers, the choir will perform both contemporary and traditional Romani songs.  

The concert on International Students' Day begins on 17 November 2014 at 19:30 and will be broadcast live by Czech Radio's D dur (D Major) station; a recording of the concert will be broadcast by Czech Radio's Vltava station on Sunday, 23 November at 14:00. "We intentionally chose the concert program to honor the anniversaries of 17 November 1939 and 17 November 1989, as well as to reflect current topics in Czech society," says conductor Marko Ivanović.

The music to be performed includes Beethoven's "Egmont", a set of incidental music pieces telling the story of a heroic Dutch nobleman who stood up to Spanish tyranny. The "Taras Bulba" rhapsody by Janáček was written in a similarly heroic spirit.    

Smetana's symphonic poem ""From Bohemia's woods and fields", part of his "My Homeland" ("Má vlast") cycle, then creates a bridge in the program leading to the modern and traditional Romani songs. "We would like to symbolically but unequivocally express that Romani people and their music are simply part of our woods and fields," explains Petr Kadlec of the Czech Philharmonic's Education Programs Department, emphasizing that the Romani songs will be performed by non-Romani and Romani singers together.    

"We believe the thrilling Romani song 'Hej romale' will be sung at the end of the concert by the audience with the same enthusiasm as the student anthem 'Gaudeamus igitur'," he said. The evening will be moderated by Czech Radio announcer Pavel Ryjáček, who will commemorate both the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and the legacy of Václav Havel, under whose auspices the Czech Philharmonic performed a similar commemoration of 17 November in 2009.  

The large vocal ensemble will be comprised of the Čhavorenge children's chorus and the Vox coloris mixed chorus of high school students from Ústí nad Orlicí, the Barbastella school in Hodonín, the Corale school in Žamberk, and members of the Kühn children's chorus. Romani double bassist, jazz performer and pianist Josef Fečo authored the symphonic arrangement of the Romani songs, while the author of the contemporary Romani songs to be performed is Desiderius Dužda.        

This is not the first collaboration between the Romani chorus Čhavorenge and singer Ida Kelarova (and her MIRET civic association) and the Czech Philharmonic. The very same singers performing at the International Students' Day concert also performed with musicans from the Czech Philharmonic as part of the Romano drom project of concerts in Romani settlements in eastern Slovakia this summer.  

The project will continue next year. The Czech Philharmonic plans a more extensive tour with Romani singers and workshops under the direction of Ida Kelarova for pupils of primary schools in Prague. 

Kateřina Motlová, Czech Philharmonic, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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