So how was it? You are certainly full of experiences and impressions.
Lucia Prajslerova: It was an unreal and beautiful experience and above all a nice break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life here in the Czech Republic, I must say. Because right now is when a few bad things come together. So when we left for 14 days in Florida, we said to ourselves: this will be a great vacation.
But it wasn’t a vacation like that anymore, because you did 9 concerts.
Ludmila Zlabkova: We actually had 10 gigs because when we got back we made such an unplanned one during a six hour wait in Paris at the airport. About an hour before departure, the violin and cello children suddenly started shooting and playing there. It was an amazing experience for the people there.
The older players left and a whole new team left for America, such a generational change. The orchestra joined the fortnight’s tour magnificently.
Ludmila Žlábková, assistant of the string orchestra of the Hradec Králové art school at the Střezina Smiling String Orchestra
But it was not the first American string orchestra. You played there years ago.
Ludmila Zlabkova: Yes, we were there before Christmas in 2018. At that time, a little further north at the Canada-US border, and then we went to Saint Louis. The two tours were different. The same orchestra, the same organizers on the American side, did it, but it was different in that it was such a culmination of his work for the orchestra at the time. Now the older players are gone and a whole new orchestra has played. Such a generational change and the fortnightly stay brought the orchestra together beautifully. The children played differently at the beginning than at the end of the tour. But maybe Lucka could tell how she felt, because she was on those two tours.
Lucia Prajslerova: It was definitely a completely new experience for me insofar as I reached the first chair of the orchestra because of this generational change, so I am a concertmaster. It was one of the hardest things to get used to. But it’s true that those 14 days helped a lot, because we kept shooting. The new musicians who arrived discovered how the orchestra was doing, and they also improved a lot in playing and overall in the orchestra.
I wonder if the older ones in the orchestra are always taking care of the younger ones?
Ludmila Zlabkova: I have to say Lucka was unreal. Besides the fact that everything happened and he’s just a concertmaster, we spent two nights in Miami, where we slept in an empty house, so to speak. It was necessary to organize logistically who would sleep where, so that everyone had their place. And just the older ones really took care of them, I have to congratulate them, they showed the younger ones how they will take care of themselves one day. On the first tour, we only slept with families, but because our American collaborator, who has just made new contacts, was new now, the journey was not the same as then. So we slept in this house, we also camped, but it was great for the orchestra, because we were much more separated on the last tour. Now the orchestra was together, living together, but he had to be more careful.
The concert experience is wonderful, Americans like to listen to this music, they were excited. Standing ovations, cheers and lots of allowances.
Lucie Prajslerová, violinist of the string orchestra of the Hradec Králové art school of the Střezina Smiling String Orchestra
So such a fortnight training camp.
Ludmila Zlabkova: Now the orchestra is waiting for another important thing, and this is the competition of basic art schools in the field of string orchestras. So we thought it was such a pre-competition camp in America.
When you say Florida, I imagine the heat. Was it like that?
Lucia Prajslerova: It was very hot there. We swam in the ocean three times in total. And we even saw a crocodile on one of the beaches. But the funny thing is that we left Prague in coats, landed and had to take off our T-shirts.
What about musical experiences?
Ludmila Zlabkova: The musical experience was great, but I would like to say that the whole tour would not have happened without the conductor who founded the whole Smiling String Orchestra years ago and breathed life into it and spirit. We talked about the generational change the orchestra went through, so again he had to beep the performer from the first notes. And we managed to compile a beautiful program, which included both classical and musical and cinematographic works. We also collaborated with local singers, so there were songs too. And it was interesting that local musicians joined us at most concerts. So every gig was a little different.
Lucia Prajslerova: During a concert, a local pastor joined us, who mastered both the flute and the song. I remember being told he had a terrible tremor, but he was singing, he was handling everything beautifully. The experience of all the concerts seems beautiful to me in that Americans love to listen to this music, they were really excited. A standing ovation of course, cheers and a few additions at the end.
string orchestra Smiling String Orchestra He has been working at ZUŠ Střezina in Hradec Králové since 2013. Under the guidance of pedagogue Mikuláš Ježek, he successfully constructs his own face and expression. The core of the orchestra is made up of students from the string department (violin, viola, cello, double bass) aged 10 to 18.
What else interested you in Florida?
Lucia Prajslerova: Other animals in the houses. We found frogs and lizards in the bathrooms, for example, the teacher I think even had a snake with the host family.
What awaits you in the near future? You have already said that the basic art school competition.
Ludmila Zlabkova: Yes, the regional round will take place on March 31. Then we may have a trip to Slovakia in Banská Bystrica, it will be such a postponed tour, which was supposed to be the penultimate year, but it was postponed because of the coronavirus. I believe it will be done this year.
Our guests were Ludmila Žlábková, assistant of the string orchestra of the elementary art school in Hradec Králové at the Střezina Smiling String Orchestra as well as the violinist Lucie Preislerová.