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Metronome Prague announces 2021 ‘warm-up’ festival

Ahead of its full-scale return in 2022, Czech festival Metronome Prague has announced Metronome Prague Warm Up, a limited-capacity three-day event featuring several foreign artists, for September.

Taking place at Prague’s Výstaviště exhibition ground, the site of the previous four Metronome festivals, Metronome Prague Warm Up will mark the return of international live music to the Czech Republic before the “real comeback” for music festivals next year, says festival producer David Gaydečka. “We’re overjoyed that despite postponing Metronome Prague, we can invite fans to an exceptional musical event taking place this year,” he comments. “It may seem like a small miracle, but we continue to be optimistic and we’re working on a range of improvised musical events, the most important of which for us is September’s Metronome Prague Warm Up. It will be a huge party where we are able to secure to great acts from abroad.”

Among the acts confirmed for Metronome Prague Warm Up, which will have a capacity of up to 2,500 people a day, are the UK’s Morcheeba (pictured), German house producer Hosh and Berlin-based British DJ Bec, who will perform in the Czech Republic for the first time, as well as a host of local talent.

“We were able to put together a unique programme including confirmed acts from abroad that will bring the atmosphere we’ve become accustomed to at Metronome Prague,” says the festival’s booker, Barbora Šubrtová, who also put together the line-ups for previous Metronome Pragues.

“We’re overjoyed that despite postponing Metronome Prague, we can invite fans to an exceptional musical event”

Commenting on the line-up, Šubrtová says: “Morcheeba probably needs no introduction, but I would recall their amazing concert at Metronome Prague 2019, which was among the highlights of that year’s edition.”

She adds: “Fans of electronic music can look forward to producer Hosh, known from Solomun’s label Dyinamic, as well as formerly UK- and Berlin-based DJ Bec, who has experienced a meteoric rise recently. I think if you really want to dance or just enjoy some music, you’ll find what you’re looking for at Metronome Prague Warm Up.”

Metronome last took place in 2019, with a planned fifth edition replaced by a one-off socially distanced event produced in partnership with other Prague festivals, Praha září (Prague September), at the end of last summer.

Tickets for Metronome Prague Warm Up are priced at 1,200 Kč (€47) for a three-day pass. Organisers emphasise that they will be refunded if the festival is cancelled, though they are confident it will go ahead.

 


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Czech state of emergency outlaws live music

All live music with singing will be banned in the Czech Republic from Monday 5 October under a new state of emergency intended to combat rising coronavirus cases.

The reproduction number, the so-called ‘R rate’, in the Czech Republic is currently 1.2, meaning every person who has Covid-19 will infect an average of 1.2 other people – ie that the disease is spreading. Czech health minister Roman Prymula said earlier this week he hopes the new restrictions will bring the R rate below 1 and help the country avoid a second wave of the virus.

The new restrictions announced by the Czech government include:

While the state of emergency will last a month, the restriction on sung concerts is initially for two weeks, until 11.59pm on 18 October. Other activities involving a “significant amount of singing”, such as rehearsals, are also off.

Performances not involving singing – such as (non-musical) theatre shows, films and, theoretically, instrumental concerts – are subject to a maximum capacity of 500 people, all seated, and with no refreshments/intermission.

Other activities involving a “significant amount of singing”, such as rehearsals, are also off

Among the concerts affected are a series of October shows by popular singer Helena Vondráčková, whose manager, Martin Michal, says he doesn’t understand the focus by authorities on singing.

“According to the minister of health, we have such a powerful singer that [her breath] will jump more than 20 metres from the stage to the front rows,” says Michal, who adds that the new rules contradict previous guidance by the Czech government.

A recent study in the UK suggested singing is no riskier than talking when it comes to spreading coronavirus aerosols, although the research is not peer-reviewed and its results have not yet been replicated elsewhere.

The new lockdown brings to an abrupt end a summer of socially distanced music in the Czech Republic, with the recent collaborative effort, Praha září, serving as a last hurrah for the country’s festival organisers.

At press time, the Czech Republic had 70,834 active coronavirus cases.

 


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Prague festivals combine for big open-air event

Praha září (Prague September) in the Czech Republic is combining some of the capital’s leading cultural festivals for a large scale event that’s expected to be the last of its kind before a lockdown.

The open-air event is taking place between 8–28 September at the Výstaviště exhibition grounds in Prague-Holešovice and includes programming from music, theatre and film festivals.

The 17th annual multi-genre festival United Islands of Prague took over programming last weekend, presenting Czech, Slovak and Austrian artists.

While Metronome, which was scheduled to take place in June featuring artists such as Beck, Underworld and Skepta but was cancelled, presented a mini version of its flagship event during the week.

“In light of the expected development of the pandemic, it is likely that Praha září will be the last large event not just in the Czech Republic, but also in surrounding countries,” says Metronome Prague and Praha září head of programme Barbora Šubrtová.

“That’s why we’d like to invite all music fans to come and enjoy the final live shows of this year in a safe open-air environment where we can ensure greater social distancing and a reduced risk of infection than on your morning commute to work.”

“In light of the expected development of the pandemic, it is likely that Praha září will be the last large event”

In compliance with the government regulations, Praha září divided the grounds of Prague-Holešovice into four sectors with a maximum capacity of 1,000 people each so visitors can maintain social distancing.

Visitors are required to register with the festival organisers, read the Ten Commandments of a Responsible Guest before entering the event and wear a mask at all times.

Last Tuesday, the BBC noted a new record for Czech Republic after the country recorded 1,677 Covid cases.

Hospitalisation, intensive care and deaths are also on a sharp upward trajectory, and heading towards the numbers seen in March and April.

IQ recently announced a partnership with the Czech Music Office to showcase the best of the Czech Republic’s thriving live music sector to the world.

Listen to the SoundCzech x IQ playlist, which features artists including FVTVRE, I Love You Honey Bunny, MYDY, the Atavists, Ba:zel, Tea Sofia and Hellwana, here.

 


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Grimaux and Fórum Karlín team buy into Metronome Prague

Ahead of its fifth edition next summer, Serge Grimaux and Karlín Group’s Serge Borenstein and Jan Ludvík have acquired a stake in Prague’s Metronome Festival.

The trio, which recently took over and refurbished the 4,000-cap. Fórum Karlín in Prague, aim to turn the festival – to be renamed Metronome Prague –  into “the largest city festival in the Czech Republic”, Grimaux tells IQ, adding that the new investors will “provide the existing team with the resources and the guidance they need” to achieve that goal.

Metronome founders David Gaydečka, Martin Voňka and Libor Winkler, as well as the rest of the festival team, will continue their involvement with the event.

“Joining forces with these people will help us materialising the vision Martin and I had when we created Metronome Festival,” says Gaydečka. “In fact, it is so much the beginning of a new era that, to underline the importance of this, we will soon rename the event Metronome Prague. The event will definitively be much more than just a festival.”

Liam Gallagher and Kraftwerk headlined Metronome 2019, which was attended by 18,000 people, following Massive Attack, the Chemical Brothers and David Byrne in 2018 and Sting and Kasabian the year previous.

“Metronome Prague will soon reach … the level of top events of the same type presented in many capital cities around the world”

“Early in my career I was lucky enough to be part of the group of people that created the Montreal International Jazz Festival, which later became, and to this day remains, the largest jazz festival in the world,” says Grimaux.

“Organised in the heart of the city, I can see a lot of similarities between that event, which started in 1979, and Metronome Prague. With such a great event site; the magic of the city of Prague; the perfect time of the year; and the amazing potential offered by what Martin, David and their team, the programme director Barbora Šubrtová, executive producer Martin Mára and new marketing director Jakub Horák, have created so far, there is no doubt in my mind that Metronome Prague will soon reach, if not exceed, the level of top events of the same type presented in many capital cities around the world.”

Metronome Prague 2020 will take place on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 June, returning to the open-air Výstaviště exhibition grounds in central Prague.

“The new partners will help us present top international artists to the audience,” says Voňka, “as well as an even more comfortable environment for attendees, as we are aiming to increase ​​the event area in the Výstaviště, hence accelerating and strengthening the development of our common vision.”

 


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Serge Grimaux takes over redeveloped Fórum Karlín

The new-look Fórum Karlín in Prague is open for business, with a 4,000-plus capacity, cashless-only payments and impeccable green credentials among the key features of Karlín Group’s ‘smart’ venue.

The multi-functional Fórum Karlín originally opened in 2014, and was acquired from former owner Zdeněk Bakala by Karlín Group’s Serge Borenstein and Jan Ludvík late last year. The venue is now jointly owned by Borenstein, Ludvík and Serge Grimaux, the veteran promoter and founder of Ticketpro and Intellitix, who becomes the venue’s CEO.

The Fórum has hosted more than 750 events since opening, and the new owners hope to build on that success by transforming it into a ‘SmArt Venue’ (emphasis theirs) that provides both audiences and event organisers with the best experience possible.

According to Karlín Group, in practical terms this means:

“This is […] one of the most, if not the most, exciting projects I have [worked on] these past years”

Grimaux, who originally consulted on the venue when it was being built seven years ago, tells IQ that Fórum Karlín is an “extremely versatile” space. “The entire ceiling is a rigging grid with equally great capacity,” he explains. “It can be configured in many different ways.”

One of those configurations is Fórum Karlín Club, a 1,500-person setup with the stage build closer to the main floor bar area and two levels of balcony “Never before in the Czech Republic have fans and musicians experienced such an immersive, comfortable and exciting experience.”

“My aim is for having the venue as ‘promoter-friendly’ as possible, offering new types of events such as sporting events, culinary events, etc., and also adapting its capacity so it can provide Prague with its first 1,500-capacity venue,” continues Grimaux, something which was missing in this marketplace – hence increasing the amount of live music entertainment events hosted in it.”

“Teaming with the Karlín Group, I could not imagine a better scenario to once again become fully active in the live events industry in the Czech Republic,” he adds in a statement.

“After having been part of creating the current dominant force in concert promotion – and having launched the first, and to this day the most efficient, ticketing company in the country – to now oversee the evolution of the greatest live venue in the Czech Republic, taking this entire spectrum of activities to where the world will be tomorrow is one of the most, if not the most, exciting projects I have come to embrace in the past years.

“For event organisers, we do not just rent you a venue – we care. And for fans, we do not just let you in our venue, we take care of you.”

 


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Ticketmaster signs O2 Arena Prague

Ticketmaster Czech Republic has become the preferred ticketing partner of O2 Arena Prague, in a significant deal that sees the company edge closer to local dominance.

Owned and operated by Bestsport, O2 Arena Prague is the largest indoor arena in the Czech Republic, with a capacity of 18,000. Starting from this month, tickets for all upcoming events, including concerts, sporting fixtures and other entertainment events, will be sold via Ticketmaster.

Ticketmaster entered the Czech market in early 2017 with the acquisition of Serge Grimaux’s Ticketpro. According to the International Ticketing Yearbook (ITY) 2018, Ticketpro/Ticketmaster is the second-largest primary ticket seller in the Czech Republic, after Ticketportal, which currently holds the O2 Arena contract.

“Among the key prizes in the Czech Republic is the contract of the 18,000-seat O2 Arena, opened in 2004 and owned by PPF Group’s Bestsport,” the ITY reads. “Ticketportal is the incumbent, and the arena keeps Prague firmly on the European circuit, with Ed Sheeran, Maroon 5, Eros Ramazzotti and local star Ben Cristovao on the calendar for 2019.”

While tickets will be still be allocated to Ticketportal, Ticketmaster becomes the official, preferred partner of the arena.

The O2 welcomed its ten-millionth visitor earlier this year, after a huge 2018 which saw concerts by Metallica, Depeche Mode and Imagine Dragons and sporting events such as FED Cup tennis and the IFF floorball championship.

“Ticketmaster was a natural choice for us, and our partnership will create many fantastic opportunities”

“Partnering with one of the country’s biggest and most innovative venues is hugely exciting for us, and a significant moment in our development following our launch in the Czech Republic two years ago,” says Simona Matějková, managing director of Ticketmaster Czech Republic (Ticketmaster Česká republika).

“As the O2 Arena Prague prepares to play host to some of the biggest names in music and sport in the coming months, we are looking forward to working with the venue and Bestsport to provide a simple and seamless experience for fans looking to buy tickets to some amazing events.”

Ticketmaster has already begun working with Bestsport, selling tickets for events hosted at the new O2 Universum, the O2 Arena’s multi-purpose next door neighbour, which is due to open in September 2019. The Universum can accommodate up to 4,500 visitors in its largest hall, with an overall capacity of 10,000 visitors using the space of all 21 halls.

Robert Schaffer, chairman of the Board and the CEO of Bestsport and O2 Arena Prague, comments: “As one of the most recognised global ticketing platforms, Ticketmaster was a natural choice for us, and our partnership will create many fantastic opportunities.

“Ticketmaster’s market-leading technology will help to simplify the process of selling tickets to fans at home and abroad, and opens up new possibilities in terms of promotion and exposure of the many exciting events we host at the O2 Arena Prague to audiences around the world.”

 


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