This summer sees the launch of an exciting new series of outdoor concerts hosted by Prague Castle. Three very different, yet equally impressive, musicians will be performing in the unlikely and picturesque surroundings of the Prague Castle Riding School Terrace. The Tuesday evening series kicks off on July 23 with the blues and world music icon, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and two-time Grammy winner Taj Mahal, followed on August 13 by the American singer-songwriter and pianist Regina Spektor and finishing on August 20 with Irish singer, guitarist, songwriter, and all-round Czech sweetheart, Glen Hansard and his band.
All concerts start at 20:00 and are limited to a very intimate and civilized seating capacity of just 800 people.
Taj Mahal is one of the most important and influential personalities of blues music in the 20th century. His career began more than 45 years ago in the genre of American blues, but since then he has gradually broadened his artistic scope to include music from across the globe – from West Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe. Mahal was born in Harlem in 1942 and grew up in Massachusetts in a musical family. After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles, where he formed the band Rising Sons with guitarist Ry Cooder and soon released the albums Mahal (1967), The Natch’l Blues (1968) and Giant Step (1969). For the album Señor Blues in 1997 he won his first Grammy. In 2000 he won a second Grammy, this time for the album Shoutin’ in Key. Eight years later he released Maestro: Celebrating 40 Years, a retrospective of his 40 years on the musical stage.
Russian-born Regina Spektor is one of the most talented and original artists of today’s music scene. Her only previous performance in the Czech Republic was at the Colours of Ostrava festival, so her August concert at Prague Castle will be her premier in front of a Prague crowd. Regina Spektor was born in Moscow and studied piano from the age of six. In 1989 her family left the Soviet Union for New York. Here Regina continued her classical music education. She began composing songs when she was just sixteen. She gradually achieved recognition through performances in the anti-folk scene in downtown New York City. She sold self-published CDs at her performances during this period: 11:11 (2001) and Songs (2002). In 2004, she signed a contract with Warner Brothers’ record label Sire Records to publish and distribute her third album Soviet Kitsch, originally self-released in 2003. At the Prague concert she will be performing tracks from her most recent release, What We Saw from the Cheap Seats.
Glen Hansard is a real favourite among Czech audiences. He performs under many musical guises – solo with guitar, dueting with Czech multi-instrumentalist Marketa Irglova in the project The Swell Season, with his band The Frames, and alongside his backing band.
Yet this concert on the terrace of Prague Castle Riding School will be unique, not only because of the environment. Hansard will be performing with his backing band, comprising members of The Frames together with string and wind sections. His latest project is a solo album Rhythm & Repose Project, which is a very open interpretation by Hansard of events in his personal and artistic life over the last few years. In addition to touring, Glen Hansard has also appeared in several films – in the musical “The Commitments” and the box office hit “Once”. His song “Falling Slowly” taken from this film won him (along with Marketa Irglova) an Oscar and a Grammy nomination.
TIP: Kultura na Hradě has posted a special offer on its Facebook page: For anyone purchasing a ticket to any of the three concerts a buy-one-get-one-free entry to the Marilyn exhibition at the Prague Castle Riding School is included. (Show your concert ticket at the exhibition ticket office.)
Who will you see at the Castle?