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Intro to concert by Jaroslav Svenceny, 7 May 2012
Intro to Violin Concert by Jaroslav Svenceny




Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of Dr Kamal Monnoo, Honorary Consul of the Czech Republic and his lovely wife Mrs Iram Monnoo, I would like to welcome all of you music lovers to tonight’s performance by JAROSLAV SVENCENY, a leading musician from the Czech Republic.  He will be supported by Ladislav Horak.

Their biographical details are already with you. I will not repeat them, except to say what a singular honour it is for us to welcome them here at Lahore as symbols of a musical tradition that began 1000 years ago in Bohemia. Over that millenia of creativity, have emerged renowned composers such as Smetana, Dvorak and Janacek.  As someone once said:  A nation creates music; a composer merely arranges it. 

Jaroslav Sveceny is one of the best contemporary Czech violinists and a prominent personality on the Czech musical scene. His TV, radio and concert projects, above all, attract the audience of all age categories. Go to You Tube and you can see for yourself the sheer versatility of his talent. You can listen to him - despite being a classicist - accompany like a young singer like Martin France sing the popular French ballad Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves).

Or despite being a musician, paint an abstract composition – inspired by a figurine of Lord Buddha - using pure yellow and Prussian blue.  We non-musicians think in silence, in monochrome. We speak in monotones. Maestros like Jaroslav think in sound and colour. They speak in musical notes.  

His presence here at Lahore is more than a gesture of goodwill by the Czech Republic Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Czech Embassy in Islamabad. It is an act of faith by friends from another part of the world we all share, belief in our country at a time when we are in danger of losing confidence in ourselves.

I read somewhere that out of a ranking of The World’s Most Peaceful Countries, the Czech Republic has been declared the 6th Most Peaceful Country in the World. We are 146th  on that list.

Some may wonder what is a highly decorated Czech violinist and his colleague doing in Lahore when daily we read accounts of bomb blasts and suicide attacks. For an explanation let me take you back to Wartime London in the 1940s.

When the London Blitz was at its worst, a programme of concerts was arranged at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square by its Director Kenneth Clark. He invited musicians to come and play to the public during the lunch hour - between 1 and 2 pm every day.  

‘Are you mad?’ someone asked him. “The whole of London is being bombed. We could be annihilated tomorrow, and you are holding musical performances!’

I have never forgotten Kenneth Clark’s reply: ‘It is precisely because we are under such a threat that I am doing this. I want remind people of the values of civilisation that we are fighting for.’

Thank you Jaroslav and Ladislav for being here in Lahore.  Your performance tonight will be a reminder of those enduring values of civilization that nations live for, fight for, and if need be die for.

And particularly thank you - Kamal and Iram - for bringing them here

19 October 2012
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