Album detail
Catalogue number: SU 4246-2

Supraphon is to release an album that is the fruit of the collaboration between the Czech Philharmonic and the singer Ida Kelarová within a project aimed to support children from Czech and Slovak Roma settlements, ghettos and socially excluded areas. The debut studio recording made by the Roma children’s choir Čhavorenge features the Czech Philharmonic, conducted by Marko Ivanović, and guests: the accordionist Lelo Nika, the violinist Ivan Herák, the pianist Ondrej Krajňák and the guitarist-songwriter Desiderius Dužda.

“Roma children do not feel welcome in society. It is really difficult for them to get out of the vicious circle of isolated settlements and ghettos to a world in which something is expected of them, a world in which they can trust in themselves and accomplish something. Even though our effort, the energy we lay out for their sake, would not evince itself in visible results immediately, I believe that there is hope for a change. The children’s choir Čhavorenge affords the kids a milieu that motivates them not to give up their dreams, encouraging them to pursue their goals. I am happy that for five years now the Czech Philharmonic has together with us followed the thorny path of the children’s edu­cation, although I am aware that this journey to understanding may last for another few generations, or it may never even reach the destination.” In line with this credo of hers, Ida Kelarová has for five years collaborated with the Czech Philharmonic on a project whose aim it is to give hope to Roma children.

To date, Čhavorenge have appeared at almost 40 concerts at the Rudolfinum hall in Prague (with the participation of Jiří Bělohlávek, Alice Nellis, Martha Issová, and other artists) and other venues in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and joined numerous workshops. As a result of their activities, Roma children and young people have become aware of their own specific culture, experiencing self-confidence and discovering their own paths. Following several stays within the “Romano drom” project in the east of Slovakia and in the Czech Republic, last August Čhavorenge, the Czech Philharmonic and guests plunged into making their debut album.

The CD, recorded at the Rudolfinum, contains 12 vocal pieces, most of them written by the contemporary Roma composer Desiderius Dužda, and traditional Roma songs. Catchy, dance-prompting, as well as melancholic, they radiate an overwhelming energy. The booklet, furnished with texts, translations of the songs and photographs, serves to document the project, with the included reflections providing the hope that we can live not only “side by side”, but also together, that we can inspire and teach each other too.

David Mareček, the director of the Czech Philharmonic, said about the project: “When back in 2011 Jiří Bělohlávek and I joined the Czech Philharmonic, we dreamt of helping it to become a national orchestra again – proud, self-confident, yet also kind and open. In addition to holding concerts for subscribers at the Rudolfinum, making foreign tours and recordings, we introduced educational programmes for all generations of music lovers. Five years ago, we had the idea of working with Ida Kelarová and Čhavorenge, her Roma children’s choir. The project encompassed everything we strove for: music, social and educational aspects in perfect harmony. Cohabitation between the Roma and non-Roma is a bold topic in our country, one that needs action rather than discussion. In my opinion, Ida Kelarová had been doing the best thing she can: she affords Roma children a chance for a better life. And while doing so, she is strict, highly professional. She awakens in the children their musical talent, as well as pride and the feeling of responsibility for themselves. I am happy to see the recording, which Ida, Jiří Bělohlávek and I wanted to be accomplished from the very beginning, coming into being now, and I hope that it will be more beneficial that being just a proof of our musical and human collaboration.”

This summer, Čhavorenge are scheduled to visit Romania, where they will familiarise themselves with the local Roma communities and their culture. Two high-profile concerts will take place at the Athenaeum, the most exquisite hall in Bucharest, and the choir will also perform at the George Enescu International Music Festival in Sinaia. The trip will be supported by the EU‘s Creative Europe programme. In the autumn of 2018, Čhavorenge will be touring Slovakia, while concerts in Austria and Northern Ireland (Belfast) are currently in the pipeline.

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