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Philharmonic offers life chance to deprived Roma children
09-08-2016  Ruth Frankova

Some 60 Roma children from socially excluded localities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, along with members of the Czech Philharmonic, are taking part in the ‘Romano Drom’ music and dance workshop in North Bohemia. The aim of the summer school, organised annually by musician and choir mistress Ida Kelarová, is to support children and youth at risk of social exclusion. The two-week school will culminate with a series of performances, starting on Tuesday night in Nový Bor.

Ida Kelarová and Petr Kadlec, photo: Archive of z.s. Miret / Oto Bunda I spoke to Petr Kadlec of the Czech Philharmonic and I first asked him why the musicians decided to get involved:

“I think that simple answer we want to support children and youth in socially excluded localities and we are trying to do it with the help of music.

“As you know, in the socially excluded localities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia there is no-one or almost no-one who takes care of talented Roma children and youth, and that is something we are trying to change with this project.

“So we are trying to support talented singers and dancers and to work with them. We believe it might a kind of life-changing experience for them because they experience themselves in a positive situation. We hope that they can gain more self-confidence and more self-assuredness, so that is in short the reason why we, as the Czech Philharmonic, are taking part.”

How do you find the cooperation and would you say that it also benefits musicians of the Czech Philharmonic?

Photo: Archive of Miret, z.s. “The cooperation is in my opinion absolutely perfect because the artistic team of the MIRET initiative, led by world-known singer and choir master Ida Kelarová, is working at a fantastic level. They really know how to work with the children, how to motivate them. They also know there must be a strong discipline because it is also important for their future lives.

“And what does it give to our musicians? I think that when we started, many of them thought that they were just going to help the children. But after spending two or three days in the Roma villages in Slovakia they realised they were learning from them. They were learning things like spontaneity and an attitude that is very open and sincere.”

What have you been rehearsing? What will be on the programme this year?

Photo: © Petr Kadlec / Archive of Miret, z.s. “We have 20 pieces, mainly composed by a very famous Roma composer Desiderius Dužda. For this year he composed eight new pieces. Some of them are traditional czardas and we also have two pure instrumental pieces, a drum part of from Hungarian Dance No. 5, a very famous composition, and also an arrangement of one solo piece by Georges Boulanger.”

The first of a series of three concerts will take place on Tuesday night in Nový Bor, followed performances in Rumburk on Wednesday and in Děčín on Thursday.

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