Thursday, June 16, 2011

Prague Blog

Ellen Ray '11 writes about our time in Prague. This would have been posted sooner had the Czech keyboards been easier to decipher. Photos courtesy of Monica Qiu and Mari Oye '11.

The Glee Club's stay in Prague consisted of much wandering on streets with names we were unable to pronounce. Luckily, with the help of a local guide, we were able to glean some sense of the city's history and architecture. Our tour the first morning took us to the astronomical center of the city, an incredibly large clock with a fanfare at noon each day. We joined in the streets with crowds of other tourists, equally confused, but also impressed by the ritual and history in this city square. I spent most of my own time in Prague trying to orient myself in relationship to this landmark and others. For example, our tour also went past Wenceslas Square, named after a member of Czech royalty who gained enough notoriety in English that even American tourists (us, for example) understood the hilarity of this connection. Wenceslas Square was also an important landmark for our time in Prague, as most of us could at least pronounce it.

Near both of these landmarks was the Communist Museum of Prague. Located between a McDonald's and a casino, one can only find this museum by glimpsing it through the columns dividing the McDonald's and the casino. Large posters which say "The Communist Museum is Here!"are the ultimate giveaway. However, the true treasures rest inside. In every corner, there were statues of Stalin or Lenin or even occasionally Engels.

The content of the museum focused on Czechoslovakia's relationship with this model. Much attention was given to the Velvet Revolution, the student and intellectual movement which accompanied the collapse of Czechoslovakia's Communist state. Large photographs of youth were paired alongside a bust of Vaclav Havel. Pictures of youth storming Wenceslas Square, or simply sitting on stages were labeled with captions which proudly described the actions of these young revolutionary heroes.

While it's easy to peg Prague for its kitsch, or its excessive amounts of Art Nouveau, our guides pointed us toward places which display the literary and musical traditions of this country. Some members of the Glee Club went to the Kafka Museum. Luckily, none were transformed into giant insects.

Our concert was in a wing of the National Museum, the Nordoni, which featured an exhibit on Antonín Dvořák. The concert was sold out, and it was a pleasure to perform for such a large audience in a building which celebrates the country's musical heritage. A few members of the audience were even spotted crying during our performance of Red River Valley.

Though confused in terms of navigation, the Yale Glee Club enjoyed its time in Prague. This meandering with other members of YGC led to some of my most enjoyable afternoons on tour, even if I won't be able to pronounce the names of anything I saw.

Top: Ryan Dailey '12, Helen McCreary '13, and Katie Dryden '11 by St. Vitus Cathedral
Right, middle: Lennon vs Lenin!
Below: Our Prague concert venue