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CZECH FOLK-ROCK BAND ČECHOMOR TO PERFORM AT MUSIC FESTIVAL

Musical oasis away from the noisy city

NONTRADITIONAL arrangements of traditional musical genres performed in an unusual environment - on the shores of Zlaté Piesky, just outside Bratislava - is an accurate description of a reborn folk-ethno music festival that will take place on June 13.
The festival's name, Hurytan (from HUdba-RYthmus-TANec, or Music-Rhythm-Dance), is a term Peter Pišťanek used in his novel Mladý Dônč. The goal of the organisers is to breathe new life into the open-air event, which originated in the 1990s and had fizzled out.
"The Hurytan festival existed in the past. One year it ran in Banská Štiavnica, and another year in Bratislava. But after the Bratislava one, when the organisers overestimated their abilities, it collapsed," says Palo Maruščák, one of the event's organisers.


THE GROUP's current line-up.
photo: Courtesy of Čechomor

NONTRADITIONAL arrangements of traditional musical genres performed in an unusual environment - on the shores of Zlaté Piesky, just outside Bratislava - is an accurate description of a reborn folk-ethno music festival that will take place on June 13.

The festival's name, Hurytan (from HUdba-RYthmus-TANec, or Music-Rhythm-Dance), is a term Peter Pišťanek used in his novel Mladý Dônč. The goal of the organisers is to breathe new life into the open-air event, which originated in the 1990s and had fizzled out.

"The Hurytan festival existed in the past. One year it ran in Banská Štiavnica, and another year in Bratislava. But after the Bratislava one, when the organisers overestimated their abilities, it collapsed," says Palo Maruščák, one of the event's organisers.

"The festival is now at year zero, because we came up with the idea to put it on at the last moment and its future form is constantly changing. No sponsor supported it, mainly because of time pressure, so there will be no activities accompanying the musical part of the festival," Maruščák says. He added that they plan to enrich the event by adding various dance lectures and workshops where participants can learn how to play traditional instruments.

But although the organisers say the Hurytan festival will reach its fully developed shape only next year, this year's happening has a promising programme.

The line up includes Slniečko, alias Rybacie hlavy Punto, from Piešťany, who will present its original "pub rock-n-roll". Additionally, Jej Družina, along with singer Zuzana Mojžišová, will perform Slovak folk arranged in a rock style; the energetic Pressburger Klezmer Band will play traditional Jewish klezmer music; and Czech folk guitarist Karel Plíhal will present his humorous poetic songs. Closing the festival will be Čechomor, the Czech band acclaimed for its unique interpretation of traditional songs.


ČECHOMOR stomps out Czech and Moravian folk songs.
photo: Courtesy of Čechomor

Maruščák said that Čechomor will perform the best of its repertoire, mainly the pieces from its latest, fifth album Live: "It will be typical Čechomor, performing in their characteristic rock style."

Čechomor calls itself a "free project of musicians", and is grouped around multi-instrumentalists and singers Franta Černý and Karel Holas. The band is known for breaking the limits of Czech and Moravian traditional songs by mixing them with other genres like rock.

The band, whose members play violin, guitar, cello, pipes, accordion, trumpet, flute, and drums, was formed in 1988 as the First Czech-Moravian Independent Music Company. At its first performance, in which the band was asked to enliven a traditional craft market during an exhibition in Prague, the musicians crossed traditional lines and gradually shaped a unique approach to folk music.

But it was not until last year that Čechomor clearly stepped out of the shadows. In 2002 the band received an award from the Czech Academy of Popular Music for the best band, best album (for Proměny, Changes), and best song. Just a month ago, the musicians came to Slovakia to perform music from their award-winning album, recorded with 40 classical musicians from the Czech Philharmonic.

The five-member band played a role in the recent Czech movie Rok ďábla (Year of the Devil) directed by Petr Zelenka. The film was awarded the main prize - the Crystal Globe - at the international film festival in Karlove Vary and won seven Lions (the Czech version of the Oscars) last year. One was for the music.

"The band has reached the hearts of Slovak fans with its non-traditional interpretation of folk songs. The proof of this was that the show completely sold out at Pasienky Hall in Bratislava," says Maruščák.

The organisers hope that by moving this type of festival to the outskirts of the city, they will be able "to create a pleasant, green oasis for all those who long for a concert without bands being 'unnecessarily noisy'".

What: Hurytan - folk and ethno music festival.
When: June 13 at 18:00.
Where: Zlaté Piesky, Bratislava.
Tickets: Sk249 (pre-sale), Sk299 (at the concert).

For more information on the festival as well as booking the tickets contact Dr Horak at 02/5443-5667 or www.drhorak.sk

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