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.