Czechia celebrates International Romani Day with music and art

Live concerts and the opening of an outdoor exhibition take place in Prague, while Czech TV will broadcast a concert by a Romani children's choir.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 08.04.2022 10:54:00 (updated on 08.04.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

International Romani Day, which falls every year on April 8, will be celebrated throughout the Czech Republic with music and art.

An outdoor exhibition of photographs by Karel Cudlín called "Once Upon a Time in Žižkov," showing the life of Roma inhabitants of this Prague neighborhood some 40 years ago, is opening at Kostnické náměstí in Prague 3.

“The photos were taken between 1978 and 1984. This was no project, I was interested in how the people were living in the locality where I lived, too. I started taking pictures in the Žižkov streets and these people gradually allowed me to visit their homes,” Cudlín, a member and co-founder of the 400 ASA group of photographers, told ČTK.

The exhibition includes 29 of Cudlín’s photos. They depict the life of Roma people in old blocks of flats with joint porches where they dwelt along with the majority population almost 40 years ago.

There will also be a gala concert on April 8 at Divadlo Archa with a theme of Baripen, the Romani word for “pride.” Performers include Ida Kelarová and Desiderius Dužda, Ondra Gizman Sr., Natálie Kuchárová, Sára Kaliášová, Ivan Herák, Veronika Kačová, Richard Adam, and Milan Kroka Live Band.

Another live concert takes place on Saturday, April 9, at Cargo Gallery with Lucie Bikárová. Read more about the celebrations on Facebook.

People can also celebrate from home by watching a recorded show featuring Ida Kelarová and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. Kali Cerchen, which means "black star" in Romani language, will air on ČT art on April 8 at 8:15 pm.

It was filmed in the Rudolfinum's Café and Ceremony Hall, and features the Chavorenge Children's Choir plus young Roma musicians playing jazz guitar and dulcimer music, as well as singers and traditional dancers. Kelarová has worked with talented young Roma and helped them on the path of classical, jazz, or traditional Romani music.

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The choir is a project Kelarová has worked on for some time. It is meant to inspire young people.

“Romani children lack the feeling that they are welcome in society. Their journey out of the vicious circle of settlements and ghettos into a world where something is expected of them, where they can trust each other and they can prove something, is one of the most difficult journeys,” Kelarová said.

“Even if the energy we put into children does not take effect immediately, I believe that there is hope for change. The Chavorenge Children's Choir is an environment that motivates children not to give up their dreams and goals and to pursue their life story,” she added.

Kelarová will present talented young Roma who have set out on the path of classical, jazz, or traditional Romani music.

International Romani Day is a relatively new holiday. It was declared in 1990 during the fourth World Romani Congress of the International Romani Union (IRU) in Serock, Poland. It commemorates the first major international meeting of Romani representatives, which took place April 6–12, 1971, near London. Four members of the Czechoslovak Union of Gypsies-Roma attended the first World Roma Congress, according to Romea.cz.

The first celebrations n the Czech Republic of International Romani Day were held in the year 2001.

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