The three-week musical showcase presented a number of world-renowned artists. The artistic performances and the reception of the audience was proof of the social importance of the festival and its international prestige. The 27th year of the IMF took place from 20th July till 11th August and offered a total of 19 concerts at attractive concert venues in Český Krumlov – at the Castle Riding Hall and Masquerade Hall, under the open skies in the Brewery Garden and at the Summer Riding Hall of the castle garden as well as in the chamber atmosphere of the Church of Corpus Christi and the Grieving Virgin Mary.
The opening festival evening was conceived as a festive overture and presented a selection of musical styles which were then performed at the festival in the following three weeks. Gregorian chant was interpreted by the ensemble Schola Gregoriana Pragensis, classical music was represented by Jiří Bárta and soprano Sooyeon Kim, soloists from Broadway Christiane Noll and Hugh Panaro performed the musical genre and swing was presented by Jan Smigmator. A performance belonged to talented student Daniel Klement from the Jaroslav Ježek Elementary Art School, which provides musical education to visually impaired children and youth and with which the IMF started cooperating this year. The concert was accompanied by visual and laser effects and opera and musical numbers were situated in appropriate scenery and completed by costumes.
The program of star singers Piotr Beczała and Sondra Radvanovsky, who were accompanied by the PKF – Prague Philharmonia under the baton of Leoš Svárovský, consisted of arias and duets by G. Puccini, G. Verdi, U. Giordano, G. Bizet and A. Dvořák and livened up by songs from operettas and musicals. Due to the weather it was played without an interval. Spanish pianist Javier Perianes, who performed Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor together with the Bohuslav Martinu Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Manuel Hernández-Silva, left a deep impression. The concert was dedicated to the IMF Friends Club. After the concert an encounter with the protagonists of the evening, during which the visitors could also get some behind the scenes information from their artistic life.
The festival Sunday morning concerts are held in the sacral spaces of the Church of Corpus Christi and the Grieving Virgin Mary and this year the ensemble Schola Gregoriana Pragensis and organist Jaroslav Tůma performed during there. The series of chamber concerts at the Masquerade Hall is traditionally popular with the listeners. This year violoncellist Jiří Bárta, guitarist Pavel Steidl, the ensemble specializing in the interpretation of so-called Viennese classical music Concilium musicum Wien and young musicians from the ensemble Francisextet made an appearance there this year. Accompanied by the South Czech Philharmonic and under the baton of Jan Kučera, violinists Miroslav Ambroš and Jaroslaw Nadrzycki played together and another representative of the young violin generation, Amin Ghafari, performed together with the Suk Chamber orchestra under the leadership of young conductor Nikol Kraft. The Wihan Quartet paid tribute to Leoš Janáček, from whose death 90 years have passed this year, with their concert. Violoncellist Boris Andrianov made an appearance at the Castle Riding Hall and together with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and conductor Christian Schulz interpreted Dvořák’s Concerto for cello and orchestra in B minor. Slovak temperamental ensemble Gypsy Devils together with the dance group Magic Spurs presented their original performance
From the concerts of other genres, the musical evening achieved great success and was the most visited concert. The concert was interpreted by American soloists Christiane Noll, Dee Roscioli, Hugh Panaro and Darius de Haas and the North Czech Philharmonic Teplice under the leadership of Randall Craig Fleischer and the first half of the program was dedicated to Leonard Bernstein, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year, and the second half to classical musical works. The concert of Hradišťan and Jiří Pavlica, which was transferred from the originally planned Kooperativa Garden to the bigger spaces of the Brewery Garden, also achieved high attendance. In terms of genres, swing made an appearance at the festival for the first time. The program “Keep Swinging!” was prepared by singer and music producer Jan Smigmator, who also presented the entire evening. His guests were Tom Gaebel from Germany and Dasha, a well-known singer in the Czech Republic. The soloists were accompanied by the Felix Slováček RTV Big Band and the dance group POP Balet. The audience listened to songs by George Gerschwin, whose 120th anniversary of his birth the entire world is remembering in 2018, and also famous songs by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, Duke Ellington, Michel Legrand, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin.
The closing of the festival belonged to violinist Tanja Becker-Bender, who, accompanied by the Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra, played Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D major. The concert was dedicated to the memory of an important Czech personality, violinist and teacher Prof. Emil Friedmann Kossuth, who settled down in Venezuela after 1945 and significantly contributed to the development of musical education there. The concert was conducted by Venezuelan conductor Manuel Hernández-Silva, who studied under Emil Friedmann Kossuth. The very end of the festival was marked by a celebration of the upcoming 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic, which was inaugurated by a representative of the Moravian region – Military Music Olomouc in the square Náměstí Svornosti. Then the visitors accompanied by the sounds of music walked to the Brewery Garden, where the legendary ensemble Lúčnica performed on behalf of the Slovak side and Čechomor with guest singer Martina Partlová and Vlado Kumpan Brass Music on behalf of the Czech side.
For the first time during the festival the Brewery Garden turned into an open-air cinema in which Czech films with music themes were performed. Vocal masterclasses led by excellent Slovak baritone Vladimír Chmelo were also a new element. The masterclasses culminated with a concert of all the participants at the Monastery of Capuchin Nuns. The masterclasses were organized by the Prague Musical Institute, the International Music Festival Český Krumlov and the Monasteries Český Kumlov. The IMF Český Krumlov acquired new patrons, important personalities of the Czech cultural life, such as Zlata Adamovská, Vlastimil Harapes and Petr Štěpánek. The 27th year of the IMF welcomed almost 21 thousand visitors including the open-air cinema and the promenade concert at the end and average festival concert occupancy reached over 90 percent. The IMF Český Krumlov was held under the auspices of the president of the Czech Republic and other constitutional authorities, the governor of the South Bohemian Region, the mayor of Český Krumlov and ambassadors of the countries whose artists performed at this year’s festival. The next 28th year of the IMF will take place from 19th July till 10th August 2019.