MOUNTAIN DISASTER IGNITES ARTISTS

Live aid for Tatras

SINCE high winds toppled whole forests in the Tatra mountains November 19, all corners of Slovak society have pitched in to help, including musicians.
"The catastrophic situation in the High Tatras shook all of Slovakia," said management at the Slovak Philharmonic. "Our mountains cannot help themselves. The situation begs for help across society."
No musicians or institutions have yet put on a concert the size of Bob Geldof's (Geldof promoted a concert for


MUSICIANS rush to help the devasted mountains.
photo: Daniel Varga

SINCE high winds toppled whole forests in the Tatra mountains November 19, all corners of Slovak society have pitched in to help, including musicians.

"The catastrophic situation in the High Tatras shook all of Slovakia," said management at the Slovak Philharmonic. "Our mountains cannot help themselves. The situation begs for help across society."

No musicians or institutions have yet put on a concert the size of Bob Geldof's (Geldof promoted a concert for Ethiopia in 1985 watched by half a billion people), the newsaper Pravda remarked, but a similar spirit seems to have activated Slovakia's artists. They have been joined by musicians from neighbouring countries, especially the Czech Republic.

"We welcome every helping hand," said the mayor of Vysoké Tatry, Ján Mokoš. "We are happy that artists have decided to help repair damage caused by the disaster."

Mokoš said he was pleasantly surprised that individual citizens have pitched in - be it with material aid, money, expert advice, or a charity event. "I would like to thank all of them," he said.

The Slovak Philharmonic announced a benefit concert for the High Tatras three days after the windstorms.

"We decided to act after the first reports of the windstorm broke in the media," philharmonic general director Marian Lapšanský said. "The only question was when and what performance."

Because many visitors go to the Tatras over Christmas, the Philharmonic is putting on a Christmas show. The Bratislava Boys Choir, accompanied by the philharmonic orchestra, and conducted by Tomáš Hanus, will perform Christmas Carols December 18 at 18:00 at Bratislava's Reduta building. Ticket revenues is estimated to exceed Sk200,000 (€5,000).

Philharmonic management was said they were surprised to learn they were the first musicians to act. "It should be utterly obvious in such a situation that people should help in whatever way they know how," one manager said. "For the Philharmonic it is music."

Other musicians have begun to join in. A number of Slovak and Czech pop stars will perform Tatras Under the Christmas Tree, a concert at the Poprad Sport Hall December 22. The Slovak Radio and Slovak National Theatre are also preparing to help.

The list of the Poprad concert performers includes IMT Smile, Jana Kirschner, Misha, Vašo Patejdl, and Czechs Hana Zagorová and Honza Nedvěd.

"I am not surprised that Czechs are also performering," said Vysoké Tatry's mayor. "Some of the first offers of help, as well as news coverage, came from the Czech Republic and the Polish town of Zakopane.

"After [the Czech town of] Pardubice reached out, Prague joined in, followed by Brno, České Budejovice and many others. This shows the number of Czech visitors to the High Tatras. They like the mountains and are interested in what happened."

The Poprad concert will start at 20:00 and be broadcast live by TV Markíza.

Janko Kuric, the frontman of the band Vidiek, was not available for the concert. He said he would have come if he could and that other musicians felt the same way.

"The concert offers a chance to help a bit," said Vašo Patejdl, one performer who has offered to play for free.

"We, who are a little bit famous, can perhaps persuade others to think of some way to participate."

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