singer, viola and harp player, is one of the foremost Czech musicians devoted to the interpretation of Renaissance and Baroque scores. Studying classical singing under Professor Karel Berman at the Prague Academy of Music, and later under Terezia Blum, she followed the Summer Academy courses in Early Music under Jessica Cash in Innsbruck. Her concerts at home and abroad (e. g. Early Music Network, London) have introduced audiences to first performances of many unpublished, previously unknown compositions. She sings with early music ensembles (Camerata RSX, Musica Florea, Capella Regia Musicalis, Collegium Quodlibet - Jiří Stivín) and with well-known soloists, with whom she also records.
In 1991, with the lutenist Rudolf Merinsky, she recorded Lute Songs in 16th and 17th century Europe, for ARTA Records (CD), followed in 1993 by the prize-winning CD with the same company: Sephardic Songs (Czech Music Fund award, and second place in the Grammy Classics vocal music contest).
Jana Lewitova also sings contemporary music, as a soloist with the Czech ensemble AGON, the Slovak VENI and Peter Kotik's S.E.M. Ensemble of New York. After years spent in the company of musicians performing Renaissance and Baroque works, the mezzosoprano Jana Lewitova has turned more and more towards old anonymous songs from different collections (Sephardic, Moravian, Czech, Slovak and from regions of the British Isles). She is accompained by Vladimir Merta (lute and guitar), by the Hungarian singer and violinist Agnes Kutas, and by the lutenist Miloslav Student. In such untraditional venues as teashops, synagogues, old manors and art galleries she accopanies herself on a baroque viola and a small harp.
Since 1998 she and Vladimir Merta run a summer school in Slavonice.
VLASTISLAV MATOUŠEK After reading musicology at the Philosophical Faculty, Charles University in Prague, Vlastislav Matousek (born 8. 11. 1948 in Trutnov) went on to study composition and took a post-graduate course in music theory at the Music Faculty of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague where he achieved also Ph.D. degree for his thesis Kinetics in Ethnic Music. There he has been lecturing in ethnomusicology since 1991. Since 1999 also at Institut of Musicology of the Philosophical Faculty, Charles University in Prague. He is closely involved in the music of non-European cultures, organology and music kinetics. He was awarded a grant from the Japan Foundation to study Japanese traditional music in Tokyo in 1996, in particular shakuhachi (CD´s Callighraphy,Taki Ochi). He works as a music journalist for Czech Radio in Prague. He writes eccentric works, frequently incorporating the use of unusual instruments. He performs as a shakuhachi soloist and he presents his own works written for ethnic instruments, often in combination with electronics (CD Shapes of Silence). He performs on the tabla and other exotic instruments with the group Relaxace (CDs Dhjana, Kadael, Indian Inspiration and Czech Koan); he performs Czech Gothic and Renaissance music with the ensemble Schola Specialis, (with the chamber choir Duodena Cantitans he recorded CDs Krystof Harant, Musica Temporis Rudolphi II, Mirabile Mysterium, Felix Austriae Domus, Byrd/Monteverdi: Masses for 4 voices). He has worked with a number of alternative rock groups as a writer, singer and bassguitarist (Mama Bubo, Before Your Era, now Yamabu)..
The Czech multi-instrumentalist Jiri Stivin (flutes, saxophones, instruments of his own construction, occasionally sonic happenings) is involved in the fields of jazz and classical music since the 60's. His well-oriented, informal attitudes are reflected both in his composing work and in his long-term teaching activity. On jazz stages, he met, among others, with Barre Philips, Zbygniew Seifert, Tony Scott, Pierre Favre, in the domain of ancient music he works as a soloist with the Virtuosi di Praga, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Slovak Chamber Orchestra and Pro arte antiqua Praha, the ensemble performing on period instruments. He is the leader of the group Collegium Quodlibet.
DEŽO URSINY Important Slovak musician oscillating between jazz and rock. Excellent guitar player, member of many famous, starting with 60's stars Beatmen / Soulmen and several bands of his own (Provisorium, Burciak, Prognoza).
IRENA & VOJTĚCH HAVEL New-age husband and wife musicians Irena and Vojtech Havel consider their music primarily a way to communicate - not only with each other, but also with their instruments and with their audiences. She writes the texts while he composes the music. And even as the songs which they thus create are one entity, so do the Havels consider themselves more as one being than two. They draw much of their inspiration from frequent trips to India and from their daily yoga excercises which they say help them to concentrate. Classically trained, one of their specialties is playing historic music, baroque, on historic instruments, in an attempt to capture more authenticity. They're fond of tibetan bowls and gongs. Their group, Capella Antiqua E Moderna, is made up of a revolving door of musicians, depending on who has the time and feels up to playing. Once, this resulted in a concert by three basses, three trombones, a gong, an organ, strings and voice. The songs are written particularly for each given performance and not played again.
the rising star of the Czech "world music", was established in 1997 by Jiří Hodina. The band brings a surprising interpretation of folk songs and combines tradition with a unique, personal interpretation of each member. Each musician uses their own experience from different musical environments - gregorian chant, baroque music, classical, latin, jayy and rock. Marcipan melts a variety of musical genres in one big "melting pot" and creates a unique cohesive, musical mixture.
(Mispacha) is a phenomenon reaching beyond the sphere of music. Perhaps more than other music groups it grows out of intimacy; its origins are rooted in many years of traditional singing in the family or rather families comprising several groups of relatives.
Mispacha responded to the changes in the history of our society. Established before 1970 it had the power of providing people with strength in the time of dejection. Mispacha's songs circulated among young people along with the songs of folk singers. Together with the Jewish SAMIZDAT called Sefer and the house seminars of Rabbi Isaac Newman it was a rare expression of independent Jewish culture. Mispacha helped to mould many a personality that later in the 1990s helped build up the Jewish community.
Mispacha's repertoir consists primarily of prayers, and in Mispacha's approach singing is taken back to its initial highest mission- the expression of human spirituality. The musicologist Hana Rothova (born Mala), who founded Mispacha and searched for, arranged, rehearsed and conducted songs for the group up to 1997, characterized the songs as Jewish spiritual folk songs. After more than 25 years of existence of the group and after the death of its founder, her then 21 year-old daughter Helena Divecka (born Rothova) took over the leadership. Mispacha in Hebrew means family. Helena Divecka now has her own daughter. She is four years old and has already started singing.
The word KLEZMER means the ability of all and every human being to express themselves through song. We can say that we were all born with this natural ability "to be klezmer". A more accurate translation of "klezmer" is "a song played on a musical instrument". At the same time the musicians playing these "songs" started to call themselves "klezmer". Today the term refers to a whole musical genre. This genre, which has its origins in Jewish communities from eastern Europe, has come to us via Brooklyn. Thanks to migration, the opening of "shtetls" (Jewish townlets) and technological advances, the ancient Jewish elements started to absorb other than local musical idioms and other genres - mainly musicals, salon music, American ragtime, pop songs and last but not least also oriental music. This gave rise to the second and third klezmer generations.
I am not sure to which generation the PRAGUE KLEZMERIM belong because the group's members are the children of other klezmer children. The very existence of the group, however, bears evidence of the viability and perhaps also the indestructibility of this music. Spiritual values have survived in man, despite generational gaps and the threat of physical extermination.
In 1993 I invited six young musicians (then aged 11-17) to join our Prague based Mishpaha choir. Soon I started arranging music for the different instruments they play. Today they are all secondary school and university students and most arrangements are the work of my daughter, Helena. The group under the name KLEZMERIM first featured on the Mishpaha 2 CD. Since then the group has performed regularly both at home and abroad. They all feel klezmer in the truest sense of the word, their musical creation being a source of joy for each of them.
Ziriab was a ninth-century Arab musician who lived Baghdad, where he was the student of a famous teacher, Ishaq al-Mawsili. Fearing he would be overshadowed, Ishaq al-Mawsili took an intense dislike to his talented pupil. Ziriab left Baghdad and set out on journey across the Islamic Empire all the way to Andalusia, in what is today Spain. There, his music talent reached a peak, not only in the virtuosity of his playing the lute and other instruments, but also in theory. He founded a music school and made a number of changes to musical instruments that were well known at the time, particularly the ‘Ūd (or Arabian lute), to which he added a fifth string and completely altered its construction.
Many years later, in 1997, a few Arab residents of Prague founded a music group, and named themselves after the ninth-century master. The group has gone through several changes; at present it comprises two Syrians, Marwan Alsolaiman, who plays the ‘Ūd (Arabian lute) and Nay (or Arabian flute), and sings, and Haitham Farag, who plays the darbouka (Arabian drum) and sings, and a Lebanese, Mouin Abu Chahine, who sings and plays the daff (Arabian tambourine).