Preview: Jazz at the Castle
As the president packs, take advantage of his house's cultural offerings
Posted: January 9, 2013
Hiromi, a renowned jazz pianist, will be hosted at the castle during one of its last jazz evenings scheduled for Klaus' presidency.
With the lease at Prague Castle running out for the climate-change "skeptic" Václav Klaus, the future of a long-running jazz series is somewhat in doubt. (The president does not just mistrust Europe: He also really loves music.)
Fret not, though; not yet, anyhow. Jazz at the castle has at least two more gigs booked for this winter, the first of which is Hiromi: The Trio Project, performing Monday, Jan. 14.
Alongside the contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson and the drummer Steve Smith, the composer and pianist Hiromi, active and astonishing audiences for a decade now, will tickle the electric ivories in a way rarely - but, one hopes, not for the last time - seen at Prague Castle. She has earned accolades in major press from around the world, so just the potential of an encore performance by her ought to be motivation enough for the incoming president to keep the series running.
Feb. 18 brings the return of a long-lost native son when Miroslav Vitouš comes back to Prague with Jan Garbarak and Trilok Gurtu. Vitouš first picked up his violin at the age of 6, played his first piano at 10, picked out a bass at 14, went to the Prague Conservatory, and then Boston's Berklee College before settling into a career as a Bohemian and a jazzman in New York.
When: Jan. 14 and Feb. 18
Where: Prague Castle
There are many things folks have to say about the terms of Klaus, and few of them are especially kind, but the cultural programming at the castle has been a highlight of these eight dark years. In addition to jazz, there are exhibitions and family events, for example.
If you can get there before Sunday, Jan. 13, try to catch the Quido Kocián exhibition featuring works by the great Czech artist whose short career was most active in the early 20th century. Trained by Josef Václav Myslbek, Kocián sculpted in bronze, but lived only 54 years and not long enough to become well-known outside of the Czech Republic. This is your chance to broaden your knowledge.
As the clock ticks on the reign of Klaus, the castle seems a friendlier place, one full of new possibilities - though folks should know better than to raise their hopes too high - but, while the man should be criticized for his recent pardoning spree and tons of other things, we can thank him for a thing or two, too. Mr. President, help yourself to the silverware on your way out, but please leave the culture staff for the transition.
Milan Gagnon can be reached at
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