Vojtěch and Irena Havlovi

music performance
viola da gamba, violoncello, voice

Entarctic Shelf Festival: 23 June – 3 July, 1995


In more than fifteen years of their joint activity, Czech artists Irena Havlová (1959) and Vojtěch Havel (1962) have passed through several distinctive stages of development. They started to work together in the mid-80s, at the experimental Capella Antiqua e Moderna ensemble which won both public and critical acclaim. The repertoire of that unique association of musicians of the same generation, well versed in music history, spanned various styles of European classical music, ranging from the Renaissance to contemporary music, which they performed with extraordinary facility yet very convincingly, and within it the Havels, a husband-and-wife duo, were able to develop what since the very beginning had been a very unorthodox approach to both historical and modern compositional techniques and interpretive procedures. Besides appearing with that ensemble they were intensively collaborating with many other leading Czech and foreign artists since the late 1980s, gradually creating their typically unclassifiable, multi-style and multi-media sound and image collages. Their favourite partners included Jiří Stivín, Czech jazz multi-instrumentalist of world renown, avant-garde drummer Alan Vitouš, and impulsive guitarist Tony Ackerman, as well as dancers Karel Vaněk and Eva Černá, painter Radek Pilař, and others.

In 1990, with their joint projects with spiritually allied singer-songwriter Oldřich Janota as a logical peak, that stage came to a close and a new one began, with them embarking on their own path. Still in 1990, they released the first of their own CDs, namely Háta H. In this one and those that followed (Yoganidra, Little Blue Nothing, Music Of Silence, Mysterious Gamelanland, Tenderly To Light) they gradually developed their very original, musically autonomous and at the same time very listenable musical concepts.

In the first half of the 1990s, they travelled to India three times and in the desert villages of Rajasthan recorded tens of hours of folk and spiritual music which they later released on four CDs (Agni, Maha Rudra Yagya, Sri Maháprabhuji Bhajans, Sri Mádhavánanda Bhajans). They also made two very inspiring films for Czech Television about India's spiritual life (Agni, Maha Rudra Yagya, Pushkar a Kumbhamela). Their audiovisual project Mysterious Gamelanland, their first collaboration with film director Viliam Poltikovič, won the acclaim of, especially, the less conformist public.

In the second half of the 1990s, Irena Havlová and Vojtěch Havel continued to develop their unique musical expression. They recorded and released more of their very original CDs (Vanity Of Wings, The Day In Benedict, Like Butterfly On Your Palm, Your Golden Boat) which earned them acclaim both at home and abroad. At the same time they have been appearing in concert across the Czech Republic, Europe, Canada, and the USA. They travelled to Africa and Japan with the Solstice (Slunovrat) dreamy performance made together with avant-garde artists Petr Nikl and Jana Svobodová.