Linha Singers

The Linha Singers ensemble was founded by Jiří Linha in 1963, and was originally composed of five singers (3+2), whose success was soon established both on stage and in the studio. Until 1966 (at that time still known as the "Vocal Group of Jiří Linha"), the ensemble collaborated with the Czechoslovak Radio Dance Band in Prague (conducted by K. Krautgartner and J. Vobruba) on many records of the then debuting soloists - Milan Chladil, Karel Gott, Marta Kubišová, Helena Vondráčková, Waldemar Matuška and many others. This short "pop" era did not allow the group to pursue its own solo career, as it often provided background vocals in various music genres.
In 1965, the band was no longer operated by USMV Praha and was disbanded. At this point in time, inspired by the then famous Swingle Singers, J. Linha created a new vocal ensemble with its own repertoire and specific interpretational style. The first radio recordings were a success, followed by numerous invitations to jazz festivals abroad, Intervision and Eurovision shows, etc. The band also recorded soundtracks to several Czech movies (e.g. A Man Cannot Beat A Woman, Even With A Flower). In the early days of its "jazz" era, the band was accompanied by alternating instrumentalists, but it soon established universal cooperation with the legendary S+HQ Karla Velebného, with whom it shared engagement with the Czechoslovak Army Artistic Ensemble (AUS VN 1967-1969), and later also at the Rokoko Theater (1969-1970). Their cooperation resulted in a solo debut of the band (Supraphon 1968). In 1970, the ensemble (already known as Linha Singers) was permanently hired by the State Theater Studio in Prague, in addition to Laterna Magika, Semafor, Činoherní klub and the Black Light Theater. This ended its struggle for life and provided sufficient room for further artistic expansion. Since then, the band has been an independent ensemble comprising 7 singers, 6 musicians, a sound engineer, operating manager and art director. The decade during which the Linha Singers activities were conducted under the auspices of the State Theater Studio may be described as a gradual percolation into the world of classical music. In addition to attractive masterly works, the concert repertoire of the band was further enriched and expanded by works with interesting circumstances of origin, and beauty and depth of musical thinking. These were predominated by reconstructed long forgotten codices or, by contrast, by contemporary music. The latter has helped the ensemble in finding its way to the programs of various subscription cycles of chamber music.
In 1970, the ensemble (already known as Linha Singers) was permanently hired by the State Theater Studio in Prague, in addition to Laterna Magika, Semafor, Činoherní klub and the Black Light Theater. This ended its struggle for life and provided sufficient room for further artistic expansion. Since then, the band has been an independent ensemble comprising 7 singers, 6 musicians, a sound engineer, operating manager and art director.
The decade during which the Linha Singers activities were conducted under the auspices of the State Theater Studio may be described as a gradual percolation into the world of classical music. In addition to attractive masterly works, the concert repertoire of the band was further enriched and expanded by works with interesting circumstances of origin, and beauty and depth of musical thinking. These were predominated by reconstructed long forgotten codices or, by contrast, by contemporary music. The latter has helped the ensemble in finding its way to the programs of various subscription cycles of chamber music.
Towards the end of 1979, the State Theater Studio was dissolved and the Linha Singers ensemble was permanently hired by the Prague Symphony Orchestra, which operated the ensemble for almost 13 years. This long period was the peak of the existence of the ensemble at that time, both artistically and socially. At that time, the Linha Singers were already a well-established group in the Czechoslovak musical culture. Their audience comprises very diverse generations, social classes, beliefs and education. A favorable working environment allowed the ensemble to gradually realize a number of large projects, for instance, the "opera", Planet With a Quiet Purple Glow by Zdeněk Lukáš and Jiří Suchý, which eventually lived to see its new musical and stage arrangement and a number of re-runs.
The peculiar humor of its author, Petr Eben, is shown in the play "Trial", which was put on by the stage director, Eva Maria Bergerová. Petr Eben was not only the author of the script and the final song, "Salutation to Marsyas", but also played the characters of the claimant and defendant with great success.
In this period, the ensemble won the greatest artistic acclaim with the Concerto Grosso by Otmar Mácha, staged for a vocal sextet and symphonic orchestra. The singers had studied this piece for one year before the opening night in Zlín, followed by Rudolfinum in Prague, where they performed with the State Philharmonic Orchestra Gottwaldov. Both performances were so successful that the composition won the interest of and was performed by various Czech orchestras, the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Halle an der Saale Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 1980 - 1989, the organizational aspect of concerts in Czechoslovakia was insignificant. Thanks to TV and radio, the Linha Singers were sufficiently known and demand for them filled their concert diaries for the whole season. As a result, they could focus on concerts abroad, mostly in the DDR and BRD, where their concerts and TV, radio and studio recordings were very popular. The Linha Singers also visited Austria and Switzerland often. The then largest collection of radio recordings of the ensemble's live shows was created in the Austrian Klagenfurt. Every few years, the ensemble also traveled on two-to-three week tours to ex-Yugoslavia. As a result, the band has visited most of Europe over the years. In 1987, they had 11 tours in 9 countries!
In July 1993, following the decision of the Prague City Municipal Office, employment of most of the members of the chamber ensembles attached to the Prague Symphony Orchestra was terminated. The Linha Singers were among those affected. For the sake of the ensemble's further existence (which required legal status), Jiří Linha first founded the Orfeus Foundation, which made it possible to retain the engineering equipment and instruments required for performances, and to secure the lease of a rehearsal room.
In 1998, the foundation had to be transformed into a non-profit organization, Linha Singers, o.p.s., which took over the management of the ensemble. After years of fumbling, searching and learning how to survive in a new, strange and formidable environment, the Linha Singers are again a young and active ensemble. Although existing as an open community of professional singers and musicians, they have found a way to fully resume their artistic activity. The ensemble has recorded several new CDs and performs both in the Czech Republic and abroad.

 

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Linha Singers - history

 

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