19th annual KHAMORO festival in Prague: Conferences, exhibitions, football - and music
Prague will soon host the 19th annual KHAMORO World Roma Festival, which has made a name for itself among all of the well-attended festivals in Prague. KHAMORO (“Sun” in Romanes) brings contemporary and traditional Romani music here annually, including top Gypsy jazz players, many workshops, exhibitions, film screenings, theater performances, a parade by performers through the center of Prague, and many other special treats.
In addition to groups from seven countries around the world, during the course of the festival 20 amateur and professional ensembles from the Czech Republic will perform as well. The festival will take place from 28 May – 3 June 2017.
This festival is a favorite not just in the Czech Republic, but also with music lovers from abroad. Annually more than 10 000 people travel to Prague for it.
The best-loved parts of the festival doubtless include the concerts of traditional Romani music and world-famous Gypsy Jazz, which will be performed each evening in various parts of the city. The organization of the festival, since 1999, has been undertaken by the non-governmental, non-profit organization Slovo 21, z. s., and by Studio Production Saga, s. r. o.
The festival is happening under the auspices of Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman and Mayor of Prague Adriana Krnáčová. The festival begins on Sunday, 28 May at 19:00 with a concert by Jan Bendig, whose unmistakable voice will be heard singing outdoors on Shooters’ Island (Střelecký ostrov) in the middle of the Vltava River.
His guest performers will be Elis, Monika Bagárová and Markéta Konvičková. Entry is free of charge, so all you have to bring is your good mood!
Gypsy Jazz, a distinctive genre that is beloved worldwide, is always on the KHAMORO program. Some world-renowned Gypsy Jazz virtuosi can be experienced - also right on the Vltava River - on 29 and 30 May at the Jazz Dock club in Prague 5.
On Monday, 29 May, at 21:00 we will hear the guitars of the German jazz formation Christiano Gitano Quartet, who are not afraid to spice up their Gypsy jazz with Spanish rhythms. On Tuesday, 30 May, at 21:00 we will offer another Jazz Dock concert in this musical genre, which so reflects the emotions, life and mood of the musician.
Audiences will see (and mainly hear) the excellent French band Nitcho Reinhardt Trio, which continues the legacy of Django Reinhardt. Traditional Romani folk music, however, also belongs among the best-loved events of the entire KHAMORO festival each year.
The evening concerts present professional Romani bands and dancers from all over the world. This symbolizes the fact that Romani people are actually dispersed all over the planet, and that their culture is unbelievably diverse and rich.
The concerts of traditional Romani music will take place at the Palác Akropolis in Prague’s Žižkov quarter and at the SaSaZu Club. On Thursday evening, 1 June, four bands will perform.
Audiences will be warmed up by the Czech-Slovak cembalom group of Viliám Didiaš, the Spanish band Fuego y Fragua, the Hungarian group Parno Graszt, and the excellent Siniša Stanković Člankovi Orkestra from Serbia. On Friday, 2 June, audiences will be set in motion by the Balkan rhythms and tones of Esma’s Band, who until recently accompaned the late Macedonian Queen of Romani Music, Esma Redzepova, and by the excellent Taraf De Haïdouks band from Romania.
This year’s festival will also feature Romani people from Russia, with traditional Romani folklore dance and song presented by Greg Demeter’s Moscow Gypsies ensemble. The closing gala concert, at which all seven bands will perform again, will begin, as is traditional, on Saturday, 3 June at 20:00 at the SaSaZu club in the Holešovice quarter of Prague.
For the purposes of the KHAMORO festival, maestro Ištván Denes has also designed a program of classical music pieces by European composers who were inspired by Romani elements and melodies. These are compositions for violin with piano and voice, such as the “Habanera” aria from Bizet’s opera “Carmen”, Ravel’s “Tzigane”, or Dvořák’s “Gypsy Melody”.
The violin will be played by Michael Jelden of Germany, while the vocals will be performed by Romani opera singer Bohumila Sommerová of the Czech Republic. Audiences will be able to experience this unique performance in the beautiful interior of the Jerusalem Synagogue on Friday, 2 June, together with the opening of an exhibition called “Gypsy Soul” by Mark Wiedorn, which the KHAMORO festival audiences and performers have been a part of in recent years.
The opening of another exhibition by the Indian documentary photographer Rishabh Kaul, who has lived for some time in Prague, will happen on Monday, 29 May at Café Lucerna. Rishabh took photographs backstage during the 18th annual KHAMORO festival, and his series is called “Backstage Diaries”.
The photographs capture emotional moments from the backstage preparations of the Romani performers before they take the stage. Another exhibition will open that has been curated in light of current studies documenting the fact that antigypsyism is one of the most widespread forms of racism in Europe, called “Akathe te beshen” (“We Live Here” or “We Are From Here”), and offers the opportunity to see an absolutely different image of Gitanos, Roma, Sinti and Travellers.
The exhibition features 15 Romani artists from all over Europe and offers a broad range of examples of contemporary Romani art through which the artists define their identity. The opening will take place at Prague’s Czech Center on Thursday, 1 June and will remain open for three weeks.
The curator of the exhibition, which is comprised of more than 200 artworks, is Moritz Pankok of the Gallery Kai Dikhas in Berlin. Fans of literature will also be able to attend events with literary themes from Monday, 29 May to Wednesday, 31 May.
The Prague City Library will present the “GAVORO” project on Romani language and literature featuring Romani authors. The idea for this project came about one year ago as a result of the training course offered for young Romani people on cultural management, “KHAMORO Shares Its Experience”, through which participants decided to add a new element to the festival program, that of activities focused on Romani literature and on literature about Romani-related topics.
The effort involves the combined forces of the Albatros Foundation, the National Library, the Prague City Library and the Václav Havel Library and presents Romani literature to non-Roma and Roma, to adults and children, to lay people and professionals, inspiring the creation of independent sections on Romani literature and literature on Romani-related topics in libraries throughout the Czech Republic. The entire GAVORO project will close on Wednesday evening with a performance by an amateur Romani theatre group from Bánská Bystrica, Slovakia, called “Kamav aver muršes” (in Slovak, Chcem iného muža – "I Want Another Man") by Maroš Balog.
A défilé by all performers will also take place at high noon on Friday, 2 June and is annually one of the most popular parts of the festival, whether that has to do with attendance numbers or with the fact that it enlivens the center of Prague with Romani art. One way or another, each time it attracts the attention not just of thousands of onlookers, but also of the mainstream media.
Performers from all seven top-notch Romani bands from all over the world will perform at once in the heart of Prague, as will the amateur and professional dance ensembles, and the flag bearers and other artists will all proceed together to the sound of Romani music from Wenceslas Square down Na Příkopě Street to the Old Town Square. After the défilé, Friday afternoon, as is traditional, will belong to children and their parents.
For those who want to visit the Children’s Day, it will be full of performances and workshops on dancing, singing and other art forms in the Portheimka Park in Prague 5. During the course of the day there will be an amusement area for the entire family there featuring balloon clowns, a bouncy castle, a wooden carousel carved by Matěj Holub, and other treats.
The KHAMORO Festival also features an expert segment to the program, which this year will be represented by a two-day international conference dedicated to the much-discussed international issue of inclusive education, including in the Czech schools, with an accent on the education of Romani children. The conference will be attended by leading experts on inclusive education from the Czech Republic and abroad, including Canada, Finland, Great Britain, Norway, Slovakia, Spain, etc.
The conference will take place on Friday, 2 June and on Saturday, 3 June at the Clam-Gallas Palace and will be attended by more than 100 people. The conference is happening under the auspices of the Czech Education Ministry and EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová.
For the first time in the history of the KHAMORO Festival we are also holding a football tournament between 16 teams on Saturday, 3 June at the Pražačka recreation and sports facility in Prague’s Žižkov quarter. There will be eight junior and eight senior clubs, predominantly from outside of Prague, who will play “junior football”.
The aim of the event is to popularize collective sports as a favorite activity that brings us together irrespective of age, nationality and origin, which is the basic idea of KHAMORO. Speaking of which, an institution dedicated exclusively to the archiving of Romani art is something that is greatly needed.
With the support of the Czech-German Fund for the Future and the Goethe Institute, a Romani Archive is now being created. The plan for implementing the systematic archiving of all products in the area of Romani culture and history, such as fine arts, literature, music and photography, will also be presented during the festival.
Several events that are closed to the public will also take place as part of the festival. There will be an international training course in cultural management for dozens of young Romani people, “KHAMORO Shares Its Experience”, which is focused on trainees acquiring the competences, inspiration, knowledge and skills essential to producing cultural events.
The International Ethnomusicological Summer School in Romani Music will also be held in collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities at Charles University, and a four-day meeting of children living in children’s homes, "Khamoro Kher", will also take place. The main media partner of the festival is Czech Television, which will be documenting the festival on video as it traditionally always has.
Other media partners are Deník CZ, Rádio 1, Rádio Color, Tiscali, Romea, Romano Voďi, Romano Hangos, Pražský Expres and InfoDnes. The festival is supported by Bader Philanthropies, the Capital City of Prague, the Czech-German Fund for the Future, Lach-Ner s. r. o., the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic, the Prague 7 Municipal Department, and Samago s. r. o.
Sunday 28. 5. 2017
19:30 Střelecký ostrov – Khamoro party on the Vltava River: Jan Bendig & Guests – Markéta Konvičková, Monika Bagárová a Elis/CZ-SK, DJ Gadžo/CZ
Monday 29. 5. 2017
17:00 Municipal Library in Prague (Městská knihovna v Praze) – Presentation of Roma Literature "Gavoro"
19:00 Café Lucerna – opening of the Rishabh Kaul's exhibiion "Backstage Diaries"/INDIA-CZECH REPUBLIC
21:00 Jazz Dock – Gypsy Jazz concert: Christiano Gitano Quartet/GERMANY
Tuesday 30. 5. 2017
10:00 Municipal Library in Prague (Městská knihovna v Praze) – Gavoro – creative writing courses
16:00 Municipal Library in Prague (Městská knihovna v Praze) – Gavoro – women in Roma literature
19:00 Václav Havel Library (Knihovna Václava Havla) – Gavoro – meeting of Roma and non-Roma authors
21:00 Jazz Dock – Gypsy Jazz concert: Nitcho Reinhardt trio/FRANCE
Wednesday 31. 5. 2017
10:00 KC Novodvorská – Gavoro – lecture and performance: "Čirikloro, or What Does the Birdie Say?"
16:00 Municipal Library in Prague (Městská knihovna v Praze) – Gavoro – Slovak Roma literature
19:00 Rock Café – theatre performance: Kamav aver muršes/SLOVAKIA
Thursday 1. 6. 2017
19:00 Czech Center Prague (České centrum Praha) opening of the Moritz Pankok-curated exhibition "Akate te beshen"/GERMANY
19:00 Palác Akropolis – traditional Roma music concert: Viliam Didiáš/CZ-SK , Fuego y Fragua/ESP, Parno Graszt/HU, Siniša Stanković Orchestra/SRB
Friday 2. 6. 2017
10:00 Clam-Gallas Palace (Clam-Gallasův palác) – International Conference on Inclusive Education
12:00 Wenceslas Square (Václavské náměstí) – parade by perfomers in the city center
14:00 Czech Center (České centrum) – RomArchive presentation
15:00 Park Portheimka – Children’s Day: Khamororo
17:00 Jerusalem Synagogue (Jeruzalémská synagoga) – concert of classical music with Romani musical motifs/CZ-DE and opening of Mark Wiedorn’s exhibition "Gypsy Soul"/USA-CZ
19:00 Palác Akropolis – traditional Roma music concert: Esma’s Band/MK, Taraf de Haïdouks/RO, Greg Demeter’s Moscow Gypsies/RU
Saturday 3. 6. 2017
10:00 Clam-Gallas Palace (Clam-Gallasův palác) – International Conference on Inclusive Education
12:15 Sports and recreation area Pražačka – Džas bavinas fotbal/Fotbalový turnaj / Football tournament
20:00 SaSaZu – closing gala concert: Viliam Didiáš/CZ-SK, Fuego y Fragua/ESP, Parno Graszt/HU, Siniša Stanković Orchestra/SRB, Esma’s Band/MK, Taraf de Haïdouks/RO, Greg Demeter’s Moscow Gypsies/RU
- Romani actor to appear in latest installment of antigypsyist Czech film series made by former 'special school' teacher
- Zuzana Kumanová becomes the first Romani woman ever appointed to high office in Slovakia
- Romani candidate in Czech regional elections says politicians don't have to be corrupt
- Commentary: Work on antisemitism by US professor reminds us of antigypsyism in the Czech Republic today
- Czech town to see exhibition by pro-Romani and Romani artists referencing the Black Lives Matter movement
- Czech car manufacturer Škoda distances itself from video by German ultra-right rapper
- Postponed celebrations of International Romani Day to be held in Czech capital on 22 July
- Miri Fajta, a Romani production company, wins Czech short film competition, could show at Cannes
- Roma youth build music school to bring people together in the Czech Republic
- Czech Police intervene against yet another publisher of antisemitic books
- Romani activist, journalist, poet and translator Jan Döme Horváth has passed away in the Czech Republic
- "Czechs Are Helping" initiative to hold benefit Romani music concert to raise money for children in Greek refugee camps