THE CZECH connection will be much in evidence at the Leamington Music Festival Weekend next month.
The 29th annual festival, running over the bank holiday weekend from May 4 to 8, will mark the centenary of the founding of the Republic of Czechoslovakia, and leading Czech musicians have been invited to perform some of their country’s greatest chamber works at Leamington’s Pump Rooms.
The connection between Leamington and Czechoslovakia goes back to the year 1940, when the Czechoslovak Free Army moved to Warwickshire and made its headquarters in Leamington. The CFA stayed for two years before moving south in preparation for fighting on the continent.
Festival director Richard Phillips said: “There are countless splendid festivals all over the UK, but I think it is really important to have a local angle, which differentiates one’s festival from others. We have all our concerts in the Assembly Hall of the Royal Pump Rooms, where the Czech Free Army Choir used to rehearse under Vilem Tausky.
“Tausky remained in Britain after the War and made a significant contribution to music here, particularly through Friday Night is Music Night on the BBC. Conductor and composer, Tausky wrote a moving work for string quartet, Coventry, after he had gone into the city with a Czech ambulance following the blitz of November 1940. He came twice to earlier festivals.”
The 2018 festival will see Czech composers dominate the first six of the nine concerts, with an emphasis on the works of Dvořák, Janáček, Martinů, Schulhoff, Smetana, Suk and others.
The Guarneri Piano Trio, violinist Jana Nováková and pianist Martin Kasík are all well known to Leamington audiences, but the Pražák String Quartet, which performs in two concerts, has not performed in the district for over a decade.
BBC Radio 3 will record the first three evening concerts to be given by the Pražák Quartet and the Guarneri Piano Trio, and also regular festival visitors Ensemble 360 in a programme involving seven wind instruments and piano.
And on the afternoon of Sunday May 6, following the AGM of The Dvorak Society, there will be a talk by Dr Katya Kocourek and Patrick Lambert on The Creation of Czechoslovakia and music during the Great War.
Visit www.royalspacentreandtown hall.co.uk for tickets and further details. Tickets are also available at the box office at the Visitor Information Centre in the Pump Rooms.