Brno arts all around

Greetings fellow Brno expats. Allow me to introduce myself as your new Brno Expat Centre cultural blogger!

Some background: I’m a professional classical musician (harp) of many years, with a minor in art history. My husband (a jazz vibist) and I decided to relocate to Brno last April so that he could take advantage of an opportunity within his company, Red Hat.

But that’s only a small part of why we decided to make Brno our new home. From the moment we first visited, it was obvious to us that Brnoians love the arts.

With a population about the size of Cleveland in the U.S., Brno supports a thriving arts scene that includes a symphony orchestra, ballet and opera, theater, music conservatory, museums, architecture, and more, not to mention random pop-up street performances on every corner.

This kind of enthusiasm for the arts in a town the size of Brno is increasingly rare in my home country, where most organizations struggle to retain their audiences and remain relevant in a music culture dominated by the pop industry.

Sure, a lot of the differences here can be attributed to general European culture and centuries old traditions, but to me, Brno has a different feel. It’s not like Paris, or Prague, or Vienna, where low-budget ensembles promise Vivaldi and Mozart on every street corner. Without the need to satisfy a more tourist-based culture, Brno’s arts scene seems free to satisfy the people who actually live here.

Let me start off by telling you about some of the unexpected experiences I’ve encountered since coming here.

First on the list has to be the brass quintet that plays atop the Old Town Hall every Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. I’m guessing most of you didn’t know there is a brass quintet that plays every Sunday, and neither did I until I heard their glorious sound drifting through my window over morning coffee one Sunday last spring. Being a classical musician I know a lot of brass players, and I can tell you, these guys are the real deal. brass

At the end of August we heard the Brno Philharmonic for the first time, in their outdoor concert series at Špilberk Castle. It was a double treat for me because the concert featured local harpist Ivana Dohnalová performing Debussy’s Danses Sacree et Profane for harp and string orchestra. Both the soloist and orchestra were magnificent, and I’m looking forward to hearing this group again during their regular season.

One of our favorite evening activities is to head over to Výčep Na Stojáka, grab a beer, and watch the happenings on the courtyard out front. A few months ago we were intrigued to see an old piano appear, and then even more intrigued when someone built a weatherproof box around the piano. Who does this? Now, on most evenings, volunteers take their turn at the keyboard. Some are fairly entertaining, and some, well—you get what you pay for.

What’s the common element to these encounters, you may be wondering? It seems that people in Brno are willing to give pretty much anything a chance. It’s a refreshing change for me to be in an environment surrounded by people who genuinely appreciate—or at least tolerate—almost anyone’s effort express themselves. What more could an artist ask for?

I’m looking forward to many more artistic discoveries here in Brno, both planned and unexpected. Check back for more of my thoughts, tips, and ideas for what to check out in the coming months.

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