Symphony orchestras face off in football friendly

02-06-2008

Many fans of classical music in the Czech capital have been closely following the Prague Spring Festival drawing to a close this week. But how many knew that some of these classical musicians also play football? On Sunday members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra faced the Czech Radio Symphony in a 5-aside football friendly in Prague’s Hanspaulka district.

Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra - BBC Symphony Orchestra, photo: CTKCzech Radio Symphony Orchestra - BBC Symphony Orchestra, photo: CTK Sunday, 11 am saw the kick-off on a small pitch in Prague 6 between members of the BBC and Czech Radio Symphony Orchestras, a game which pitted trombone and trumpet against the string section. Not a virtuoso performance, certainly, but not without some finesse. Ahead of the game I spoke to Alex Neal of the BBC:

“I’m the co-principal percussion and I am just looking forward to try and stay on my feet. I think the oppostion are in a bit of trouble.”

I ask a couple visitors who they will be supporting:

“The Czech Republic, tee-hee!”

Do you think the Czechs will do better?

“I hope so!”

“Me too. Go Czech team!”

Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra - BBC Symphony Orchestra, photo: CTKCzech Radio Symphony Orchestra - BBC Symphony Orchestra, photo: CTK How does the match play out? The BBC’s players really dominate in the first minutes firing a barrage of shots at the Czech keeper. A viola player (I think) he stretches himself to the limit. The score remains 0:0 but even so the artistic head of the Czech Symphony, Jan Simon, is visibly nervous:

“Let’s see what happens in 20 minutes.”

The keeper did make a very good stop though.

“Yeah, yeah, very professional. I will see next month that he maybe he gets something of a bonus!”

Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra - BBC Symphony Orchestra, photo: CTKCzech Radio Symphony Orchestra - BBC Symphony Orchestra, photo: CTK Suddenly, drama! One of the BBC players sends a long ball over the fence. To everyone’s surprise, it bounces off a nearby roof then off a chimney and suddenly it’s back on the field, with the BBC moving up. Smooth, very smooth. But the game is still scoreless, Suddenly, out of nowhere, the Czechs hit the back of the next in the final minutes of the first half! 1:0!

Things get even more dramatic in the second. Play after play, the Czechs gain in confidence and set up one chance after another. By the end of the game the score is 5:1 in their favour. The BBC has scored once. Actually, not even. The BBC’s Alex Neal once again:

“That was an own goal there from a corner from Dave over there who slotted it in perfectly and that little fellow just nicked in for us. We’ll take anything we can get.”

Best of all on this scorching Sunday, the game ends without any injuries, which could have complicated matters for the BBC Symphony Orchestra performing in the evening. The Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra’s Jan Simon:

“It was a very nice game and I appreciate that the game saw so much effort and fair play. As I told Czech TV, I think that music has won, and we are very grateful for that.”

Look up listings on the final days of the Prague Spring Festival at www.festival.cz

02-06-2008