Jul 29, 2010

Rubbing Elbows with the Archbishop

Still reflecting on Litmanova and hope to complete the series soon: Until then, here's a little dity.

I've been attending the Early Music Festival in Prague for the past few days with some extraordinary world class musicians descending on the city to give us the benefit of their marvelous artistry. Last evening I attended the violin concert of Harmonie Universelle from Germany, playing early Baroque pieces of composers Biber, Schmelzer and Muffat. Can't say I've ever heard of any of these folks, but that's always the wonder with these kinds of concerts, presenting to us long hidden, neglected masterpieces by composers who never made the superstar list. I'm always in awe of the remarkable dedication of these musicians, devoting so much of their lives to hidden works of art of unknown composers. How do they make a living doing stuff like this?

The concert took place in the recently renovated Dominican Convent Refectory, one of the secret little enclaves in this golden city - and we have so many of these hidden treasures. Here are some photos:

I sat in the second row, directly behind Prague's recently appointed Archbishop, Dominik Duka O.P., who was imprisoned during the communist years for a time and served as both novice master and regional provincial of the Dominican order. Seems like a decent caring fellow, but obviously plugged into the ecclesiastical system.  Sitting next to him was the Papal Nuncio, Msgr.Diego Causero. And filling up the rest of the seats - the upper crust of Prague society and the hoity toity, dressed elegantly for this warm but sprinkly summer evening, the occasional wandering tourist - and me. So life goes on as it has for centuries at these kinds of events, with the wine flowing freely and the canapes presented adroitly, with the Archbishop and the Nuncio and we.....Did I forget to mention that the concert was glorious - beyond glorious and the musicians were dressed in blue jeans and t-shirts! Dress jeans and stylish T shirts, to be sure, but casual wear all the same. Summer in Prague. 

Tonight I'm going to St. Agnes Convent (no longer under the auspices of the Catholic Church, very much de-consecrated,) to hear the world renowned Bruce Dikey play the cornetto (the who?), accompanied by Paulina Victorina van Laarhoven on the viola de gamba, together with the ensemble La Violetta, also playing cornetto, harp, harpsichord and organ, playing ornamented madrigals of Ortiz, Lasso and Rossi. The Archbishop, I fear, will not be in attendance.


Contemplative Catholic said...

Now you make me jealous Jayden. I used to be a viola player and played many pieces for viola da Gamba. Whilst at music college I wrote my dissertation on programmatic aspects of Biber's Rosary Sonatas for violin and continuo. Biber only lived up the road from where you. I think he was based at Olomouc Castle for a time

Jayden Cameron said...

Ha! Another example of synchronicity! Very interesting info. I was quite moved to hear this about you actually. I think these rare concerts are very spiritual events and the musicians themselves are genuine heroes of something holy - both the concert itself as well as the achievement of preserving and passing on the tradition and making sure these works are not lost. What are you presently doing with your music degree? You may have mentioned it - either to me or on your blog - but at my age, memory fails frequently!

Contemplative Catholic said...

hello again ! My music degree led me into teaching where I felt more comfortable teaching children and young adults with disabilities. Presently I teach 16 - 19 year olds who have a visual impairment and profound learning disabilities. I also play the organ and lead our parish choir to support the liturgy each sunday. I've been doing this for 20 odd years - perhaps it's time to move on ? lol My upcoming ordination might cost me this post over the next few months - we'll see