'Czech in Pingtung' festival kicks off Dec. 1

11/23/2021 08:57 PM
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Patrick Rumlar (center, in black face mask), head of the Czech Economic and Cultural Office, visits the HEITO 1909 park in Pingtung County in March. Photo courtesy of Pingtung County government
Patrick Rumlar (center, in black face mask), head of the Czech Economic and Cultural Office, visits the HEITO 1909 park in Pingtung County in March. Photo courtesy of Pingtung County government

Taipei, Nov. 23 (CNA) A diverse slate of activities celebrating Czech music, literature and cinema will be held in Pingtung in the first week of December as part of the "2021 Czech in Pingtung" festival, the first big event organized by a foreign institute in the county.

In cooperation with the Pingtung County Government, the Czech Economic and Cultural Office will stage a "Czech in Pingtung" festival from Dec. 1-5, sharing arts and culture from the Czech Republic with people of southern Taiwan.

According to the local government, the week will begin with a virtual academic workshop between officials from the Czech office and Taiwanese scientists at National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, followed by a meeting with students at National Pingtung University of Science and Technology on Dec. 2.

This will be followed by a free classical music concert which will be held by Taipei Chamber Players at Pingtung Performing Arts Center Dec. 3, featuring music from the operas of pioneering 19th century Czech composer Bedřich Smetana.

On Dec. 4, the Pingtung County Library will inaugurate its Czech Books Zone displaying works by renowned Czech writers including Milan Kundera and Franz Kafka.

The library will also host a release event the same day for "Hua Shu Chi (花束集, bouquet), a Chinese translation of "Kytice," a collection of ballads by Czech folklorist and poet Karel Jaromír Erben, which have been translated by Lin Shih-hui (林蒔慧), Sia Pei-lun (夏沛倫), Lu Chi-hung (呂齊弘) and Chen Yu-ju (陳宥汝).

That night, the 2020 Czech-language film "Charlatan," loosely based on the life of Jan Mikolášek, a famed early 20th century herbal healer who was later jailed by Czechoslovakia's communist regime, will be broadcast at an outdoor plaza in the library.

The Pingtung County Government thanked the office for "taking the Czech Republic to Pingtung" in a statement released Monday, praising the move for giving local residents the opportunity to experience Czech culture without flying abroad.

Despite the spread of COVID-19 cutting economic, trade and travel activities around the world since the pandemic began in early 2020, the Pingtung County Government said " beautiful things like arts and culture are not constrained by time and space."

The idea to hold a "Czech in Pingtung" week was inspired by the planned Taipei Chamber Players concert devoted to Czech music.

In March, Patrick Rumlar, head of the Czech representative office in Taiwan, paid a visit to Pingtung, during which he was very impressed by the grand facilities there, including the performing arts center, which is home to Taiwan's third largest pipe organ, according to the statement.

Rumlar was also full of praise for the award-winning Pingtung Civic Park, also known as HEITO 1909, a 20-hectare urban park carved out of the ruins of a former Taiwan Sugar factory, and the V.I.P. Zone, an urban rejuvenated neighborhood in an old military village.

As a result, Rumlar was eager to come to Pingtung again as soon as he learned of the December concert, the statement said, with the concert providing the catalyst for the staging of the five-day "Czech in Pingtung" festival.

"Although we could not fly abroad, Pingtung will not stop interactions with the international community," Pingtung County Magistrate Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) was cited as saying in the statement.

(By Tsai Meng-yu and Elizabeth Hsu)

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