The Ondráš Military Art Ensemble – folk instruments orchestra, girls’ and children’s choir. Conductor: Jiří Slavík
“And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.” John the Evangelist’s words inspired the title of a remarkable Christmas cycle, rendering its profound message, diverting our attention from glittering decorations and refocusing on the very reason for celebrating Christmas – commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Many a time with a breath-taking directness, traditional carols clearly capture the poetics of the Nativity and the story of those who were there. Such carols were precisely that which resounded in the mind of Jiří Slavík, a seasoned young jazz musician and composer with a penchant for folklore, in the spring of 2020, when a pandemic locked us down in our homes. “No one had the slightest inkling as to when we would again be able to play and sing together.” The songs immediately became a source of hope, hope that light would begin shining soon. The carols acquired their shape, sometimes soft and intimate, at others bolder, symphonically opulent. Interludes and songs inspired by the Biblical story came to life, ultimately engendering a whole cycle. From the beginning, it was intended to be performed by The Ondráš Military Art Ensemble – an orchestra and choir specialising in folk music, yet willing to cross the genre’s borders. As interpreted by the singers and instrumentalists, the Bohemian and Moravian carols sound absolutely natural, often in unconventional colour arrangements. This type of music – just like any music retelling a powerful story – requires quietening. When we let tranquillity take over our minds, we may touch upon a secret.
The Nativity story in Bohemian and Moravian Christmas carols