Anyone in the vicinity of the Prague Market on Sunday May 10 at 7pm could have been forgiven for thinking the cacophony of car horns filling the air was a surreal part of a universally surreal ‘VE Day 75’ weekend under lockdown. In fact, a car park in the Holešovice district – a stone’s throw from the Vltava – was providing the location for a unique concert by violinist Pavel Šporcl.
For the drive-in event – possibly the first of its kind for classical music – the audience stayed in their cars to watch the performance, which included two movements from Bach’s Partita No 3, some Paganini Caprices and a selection of Šporcl’s own compositions including Where is my home, a series of solo variations for solo violin on the Czech national anthem. Audience members tuned in via their car radios to a special frequency or simply wound down their windows to enjoy the music. As the sun set and the concert came to an end, some drivers hooted in appreciation while others stepped out of their cars to applaud.
Šporcl, who counts Itzhak Perlman among his teachers, is a huge star in his home country, having sold more than 230,000 CDs (on Supraphon and, more recently, Universal) and appearing regularly on TV. Of his recording of Dvořák and Suk violin sonatas, Gramophone wrote: ‘Šporcl has established himself on disc as the most charismatic of young Czech violinists, spontaneously imaginative and individual in everything he does’ (3/07). Always thinking outside the box, Šporcl already has plans for more outdoor concerts, starting with three on Jureček Lake, located just outside Prague, on June 5, 6 and 7 (weather permitting). These performances will involve the violinist playing from a boat, surrounded by audience members also in boats – although some will be allowed to stay on dry land. His recent ‘Torch-Bearer Award’, presented to him outside the United Nations building in New York for his work in bringing society together through music, couldn’t be more apt.