Art & Culture
Prague Symphony Orchestra devotes concert to phenomenon of beer
The Prague Symphony Orchestra devoted its Thursday concert to the phenomenon of beer, the program culminating with Jan Kucera’s Beer Oratory in honor of the hoppy beverage and the visitors each receiving a voucher for a free beer in a pub adjoining the concert hall.
Kucera, 42, was the conductor of the concert in Prague’s Municipal House, at which music was complemented by the reading of texts by Czech medieval scholar and church reformer John Huss and the popular 20th-century author Bohumil Hrabal.
“The Beer Oratory is a musical homage to our national beverage in both serious and lighter styles. In a hyperbole, I wanted to rehabilitate beer in comparison with wine as the seemingly exclusive beverage of intellectuals. We tend to comment on beer drinking with contempt as something thrashy or even vulgar…But the beverage does not deserve this,” Kucera said.
For his Oratory, he gathered texts about beer that would be suitable to set to music. Most of them date back to the 16th century and many contain hyperbole and humor, he said.
The oratory was performed by the orchestra together with the Prague Philharmonic Choir and Kuhn’s mixed choir, with soprano Barbora Rerichova and baritone Boris Prygl as soloists.
The concert program also included Czech composer Otmar Macha’s (1922-2006) Gambrinus, a symphonic overture honoring John I, Duke of Brabant, also known as John Primus, the patron of maltsters, who was the great grandfather of the 14th-century Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia Charles IV.
Another part of the program was the suite from Albert Roussel’s (1869-1937) ballet Bacchus and Ariadne.
Prygl, who lives and works in Munich, said the Beer Oratory is a lovely piece of music that expresses the character of the Czech nation.
“It would be fine if Jan Kucera tailored a version of the Oratory for German regions, where, too, there are lots of beer fans,” Prygl said.