WASBE Conference in Prague in July 2022

WASBE Conference in Prague in July 2022

to honour Karel Husa of Music for Prague 1968 fame

WASBE (the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles) is holding its 20th Conference next summer, and the chosen venue is the golden city of Prague, capital of the Czech Republic.  The conference will pay special tribute to Czech-American composer Karel Husa, whose Music for Prague 1968 is an iconic work of the symphonic wind repertoire and the 101st anniversary of whose birth falls in 2022 (the conference was originally scheduled for 2021 but was postponed due to the covid pandemic).

Karel Husa is only one of several Czech composers who have made a significant contribution to the wind ensemble repertoire, other significant names whose work will be heard at the conference include Julius Fučík and Václav Nelhýbel.  Since Husa and Nelhýbel both settled in the USA when Czechoslovakia was under Communist rule, their work is not well-known in the country of their birth.  The WASBE conference will thus be a great opportunity to „bring their music back home“ to Czech audiences.

As international restrictions are gradually lifted, the conference city of Prague is the perfect destination for making visitors fall in love with travel again.  The “City of a Hundred Spires” suffered next to no damage in the destructive wars of the 20th century, and in 2021 was designated The World’s Most Beautiful City by Time Out. Aside from its historic and architectural charms, Prague is an ideal location as a meeting place, with road, rail and air links making it accessible from all over Europe and around the globe.  Another bonus: accommodation and eating out in Prague are both very reasonably priced, as is the world-famous Czech beer!

The venue for most conference events, the Žofín Palace, is a beautiful 19th century structure located in the heart of historic Prague on an island in the River Vltava.  Žofín has a special place in musical history, since it was here in 1882 that Smetana’s Má Vlast cycle of symphonic poems received its first complete performance.  Five years earlier, Žofín Great Hall was the scene of the first concert devoted to Antonín Dvořák, in which the great composer conducted his own works.  Other famous names who performed here include Berlioz, Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Wagner.

The WASBE Conference will take place from Tuesday 19th- Saturday 23rd July 2022 and features lectures, a Composition Competition and a Fringe Festival with performers from all regions of the Czech Republic and around the world.  The main conference venue will also

feature an exhibition of musical instruments by local and international manufacturers as well as sheet music.

The highlights, however, are undoubtedly the concerts by invited ensembles, which take place in Žofín Great Hall and will be promoted under the „Sounds of Žofín“ label.  These will feature leading wind orchestras from Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Switzerland, South Korea, the United States and of course the Czech Republic.  Registered participants for the conference will have free access to all these events, with the exception of the evening concert at Žofín Palace on Wed 20th July and the Gala concert at St. Vitus’s Cathedral on Thu 21st July, which are ticketed separately.

The Czech Republic will be represented by its two most famous military bands: the Prague Castle Guard and Czech Police Band (conductor: Václav Blahunek) and the Central Army Band of the Czech Republic (conductor: Jaroslav Šíp).

The Gala concert in the magnificent space of St. Vitus’s Cathedral, which together with Prague Castle dominates the city skyline, will feature the Prague Castle Guard and Czech Police Band in a program to include Václav Nelhýbel’s dramatic Sinfonia Resurrectionis.   Tickets for the Gala concert are being sold at a supplement to the conference registration fee.

The conference lecture programme of over 30 presentations, held in the Knight’s Hall of Žofín Palace, will provide interesting insights into multiple facets of the symphonic wind tradition.  On Wednesday and Thursday the Great Hall will also host the WASBE Composition Competition, presenting new works for wind ensemble and awarding prizes to those selected by the judges.

The afternoons will see performances in the Fringe Festival, which comprises concerts by both Czech and international ensembles in a number of historic venues in the centre of Prague. Orchestras and bands will play in the Sala Terrena of the beautiful Wallenstein Garden, laid out in the 17th century in the Lesser Quarter beneath Prague Castle and a popular location for open-air performances in the summer months.

A unique feature of the conference is the WASBE Youth Wind Orchestra, whose members will be taken from young applicants around the world.  They will spend the conference period rehearsing a program of mostly Czech music under the expert mentorship and direction of conductors Tim Reynish and Marek Prášil before giving the final concert of the conference at Žofín on Saturday 23rd July.

The WASBE Global Conference has attracted much support from local institutions in the Czech Republic.  An old Czech saying recounts that „Every Czech is a musician“, and evidently this must apply to politicians and public officials, too, since the long list of patrons of the conference includes the President of the Czech Republic, the Chairman of the Senate of the Czech Republic, and the Mayor of Prague’s 1st district!

If you would like to join this distinguished company, as well as fans and practitioners from around the world for a unique celebration of symphonic wind music in one of Europe’s most beautiful settings, you can find further information about the conference at www.wasbe2022.com, where you can also register as a participant online.  There are reductions for WASBE members, students and senior citizens.  Reasonably-priced accommodation in the conference hotels can also be booked via a link from the website.

A special Early Bird discount is available to anyone booking before 31st March 2022.

John Tregellas, Director, The Prague Concert Co.

and Local Organising Committee Chairman