Strings of Autumn pushes the genres

This year's edition of the festival will feature several Prague debuts

The Strings of Autumn music festival runs Oct. 9 to Nov. 10 at various venues in Prague. The festival's goal is to provide unique experiences that broaden the listener's horizon, and it doesn't focus on any particular genre. This is the 22nd edition of the festival, which was established in 1996 by then-President Václav Havel.

This year there are 11 concerts, plus a joint project with the Signal festival.

Highlights include appearances by minimalist composer Terry Riley, gospel singer Lizz Wright, music producer Daniel Lanois, art rapper Open Mike Eagle, bluegrass band Punch Brothers, and jazz musicians Michel Camilo and Tomatito.

The festival opens Oct. 9 with Terry Riley's 1964 early minimalist work In C, along with other works from the Renaissance to modern times. The composer will be in attendance and the works will be performed by Paul Hillier’s Ars Nova Copenhagen in the National Memorial on Vítkov Hill.

Terry Riley will play piano with his son, guitarist Gyan Riley, the next day at Prague Conservatory. Their collaborations have the influence of Indian, west African and flamenco sounds.

After a week's break, Andy Irvine and Paul Brady will be at divadlo Archa on Oct. 17 with a four-person band. Paul Brady was instrumental in bringing Irish folk music to the world stage, and Andy Irvine has added a Balkan influence to the sound.

The next day, Oct 18, Brazilian artist Egberto Gismonti will have two recitals on one day at St Agnes Convent (Anežský klášter). The first is guitar and the second piano. He has released 43 albums since 1969, with his 1977 album Dança das Cabeças, using Amazonian influences, being most famous. This is first appearance in the Czech Republic.

A few days later on Oct. 23 rapper Open Mike Eagle will be at Lucerna Music Bar. His most recent album Brick Body Kids Still Daydream has been ranked as one of the best albums of 2017. This show is also a Czech debut for him.

Yet another first for the Czech Republic, singer Liz Wright will be at the Rudolfinum on Oct. 25. She sings gospel, jazz and blues. Her 2005 album Dreaming Wide Awake hit number one on the Top Contemporary Jazz chart.

Serbian violinist Nemanja Radulović will be in Prague for the first time at Betlémská kaple on Oct. 31. He has already appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and the Berliner Philharmonie. His Prague show will feature works by Saint-Saëns, Franck, Debussy, Chausson and Ravel.

On Nov. 1, Venetian Snares and Daniel Lanois will be at divadlo Archa. Venetian Snares is the stage name of Aaron Funk, who has been active in the alternative dance scene. Daniel Lanois is a multi-instrumentalist and the producer of recordings by Brian Eno, U2, Peter Gabriel and Bob Dylan, among others.

Czech musician Dagmar Voňková, active since the 1970s, will be at Archa on Nov. 4 along with special guests. Her songs are described as a blend of traditional folk music and a modern performance style with raw and urgent vocals. Her guitar style includes tapping, bowing, various tuning systems, string harmonics and other techniques.

Punch Brothers, with Chris Thile, will be at Lucerna's Velký sál on Nov. 6 to play 21st-century bluegrass. The band released their fifth album, called All Ashore, in July. They have been called unparalleled masters of their instruments who test the boundaries of country, jazz, even classical music, while being based in the traditional format of the bluegrass quintet.

The festival closes Nov. 10 at the Rudolfinum with Pianist Michel Camilo and guitarist Tomatito. They have been playing together for 20 years, mixing jazz, Caribbean music and flamenco. Their newest album, Spain Forever, won a Latin Grammy for the Best Instrumental Album.

The collaboration with the Signal festival takes place Oct. 11 to 13 at Kostel U Salvátora, with organ player and composer Katta performing four times a night to the backdrop of a visual installation by the group Blok 4.

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