TOURS FOR MUSIC
In 1987 Libor Pesek became the Principal Conductor and Music Director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. The following decade turned out to be, we could say, a love affair between Liverpool and Libor Pesek. I was at the time a member of the management board and will never forget the look on his face when he came to the first meeting and I said ,dobry vecer`. We have been friends ever since.
The ,Phil` audience loved the inclusion of Czech and Slovak music and no one will forget the first performance of Suk's Asrael Symphony. Then the tours began, the first, a week with a concert in Prague, Brno and Bratislava. In Prague the young Nigel Kennedy played Elgar's Violin Concerto -- in the Rudolfinum- the audience wanted more so for an encore two jazz pieces -- in the Rudolfinum- the audience loved it. The tour ended in Bratislava with a splendid party in the concert hall. The waiters running around turned out to be members of the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra coming back to celebrate with their one time conductor.
Two years later with Havel as the new President we returned to be the first foreign Orchestra to open the Prague Spring Festival and the Phil was christened the best foreign'Czech' orchestra.
More tours followed and with these more and more members of the British audience came and followed the orchestra to the Czech Republic until we had anything up to 60 people from Liverpool and Preston where the Phil have regular series of concerts in the audience in Prague.
From coming just for a long weekend request came to see more of the country and so as I write it is just a few days since we have returned from our fourth tour, having been over the past few years from Nachod to Cesky Krumlov,, to Luhacovice, Frenstat pod Radhostem, Cicmany -who knows where that is- Opava, a trip into Poland to Krakov, Hukvaldy, Telc, Brno and many other places not on the tourist trail. We have stopped twice in a restaurant in Slatinany -- and who knows where that is- whose owner, Karel Zapalac is the champion cocktail maker of the Czech Republic.
The group of 50 people have mostly been the same, they really love the beautiful countryside so aptly described in the Czech National Anthem.
We have been blessed by having a most kind and knowledgeable driver of our coach who has been with us on all our tours and is greeted with kisses from the ladies as we return each year.
We have just returned from 9 days in Marianske Lazne from the Chopin Festival. We had booked to go to six concerts but as we were in a beautiful Spa town I persuaded all my friends -and we are called , Friends of the Liverpool Phil` to have some ,procedury` -treatments offered by the lovely hotel Butterfly in which we stayed. Massages, hydrotherapy, exercises in water, at first viewed with suspicion but very quickly accepted and thoroughly enjoyed by all.
A request for a cookery demonstration on how to make dumplings will be granted.
We also toured, visited Loket, a small town with a castle but did you know that the two most famous Bookbinders in the Czech Republic, Sobotovi- and known world wide by their peers have a delightful shop and the only museum of the most amazingly bound books in Europe. Of course we went to Karlovy Vary and other nearby tourist haunts but everyone just loved Marianske Lazne.
Talking to the Festival Director, Dr Ivan Klansky, next years festival was mentioned. ,A British pianist would be most welcome but could we afford him. Next year will be the 45th Festival, a very special one with Chopin Societies world wide receiving invitations to attend.
Well, we have found a British pianist for Dr Klansky. Ian Fountain, by chance also performing in the Prague Spring Festival and the Autumn Festival, an international name, a friend, and he has agreed to come. We have already booked our hotel for next year.
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