How classical and jazz enchant the audience at Colours of Ostrava 2019


Classical and jazz are genres of music that we don’t often hear at major festivals. However, they do have a prominent place on the line-up of Colours of Ostrava 2019. We investigated how these ‘unusual’ acts were received at the Czech festival.

On the second day of Colours 2019, Thursday 18 July, the bookers had programmed several classical and jazz artists. Many played in the Cylinders Gong Stage, a large auditorium in an old gas holder with a limited capacity, but others were booked for one of the festival’s main stages.

The Build-up

Colours of Ostrava
Photo: Luc Reij / Festileaks

The classical night at Colours started with the Kronos Quartet, a string quartet from San Francisco. Their performance in the Gong Stage was so popular that reservations were needed to get access. Later in the evening, the Youn Sun Nah Trio performed in the same place. This jazz group, led by the South Korean singer, clearly impressed the audience. Youn Sun Nah’s beautiful voice was mesmerising, and every song was rewarded by a long round of applause.

To be sure, the audience in the auditorium was not an average festival crowd, but more dedicated to classical and jazz. However, over at the regular festival site, the Russian composer and guitarist Ochepovsky performed on the Kofola CS Stage. With his band, he makes a funky form of jazz, in which the guitar has a prominent role as well. For the more rock-oriented festivalgoers, this was a nice way to get into jazz.

The Performance: Ólafur Arnalds

Colours of Ostrava
Photo: Luc Reij / Festileaks

All these shows built up to Ólafur Arnalds’ performance as headliner of the second stage. The Icelandic composer and classical musician is not a total stranger to major festivals. This year, he already performed at Rock Werchter and Down the Rabbit Hole. Ólafur is known for composing the soundtrack of British TV series Broadchurch, his collaborations with Nils Frahm, and his solo work. At Colours, he mostly played songs from his latest solo record, re:member, accompanied only by a string quartet and a percussionist.

The Audience

From start to finish, the crowd was fully immersed in the performance. During the songs, they were quiet as a mouse, so even the back of the field could hear the little details in the music. Yet, after every song, the audience cheered loudly. Some festivalgoers even attempted a little dance when Ólafur added subtle beats to his classical compositions.

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At the end of the set, the applause didn’t stop and people didn’t leave, even when the stage lights turned on. Ólafur then finally returned for an encore, a rarity at a festival show. Alone behind his piano, he played the emotional ‘Lag Fyrir Ömmu’, or ‘Song for Grandma’, as a beautiful end to his enchanting performance.

Are you at Colours of Ostrava 2019?

Are you at Colours this year? We would like to know how you experienced the festival. Below, you can rate the festival in seven different categories. In September, we conclude which festivals were the best during the Festileaks Festival Awards. Participation is voluntary and anonymous.

[awards poll=”festileaks-festival-awards-2019″ festival=”colours-of-ostrava”]

Colours of Ostrava 2019

Colours of Ostrava
Photo: Boy Janissen / Festileaks

Colours of Ostrava was first held in 2002. Since then, the festival has become the biggest festival in the Czech Republic. It has a capacity of 30,000 people and features performers from all major genres as well as avant-garde and world music. The festival also offers discussions, theatre performances, films, workshops and art activities. Set on the industrial site of a former mining area, Colours is a festival for the bucket lists.

In 2019, headliners include The CureFlorence + the Machine and Rag’n’Bone Man. Many other must-see artists will also perform. Since most of Colours’ communication is in Czech, we have listed some useful phrases to help you survive at the festival.

For more information, visit the official website.

General Manager at Festileaks. Born and raised in the Netherlands, but now spotted most often in London or Madrid. The team's resident game show presenter, Linkin Park impressionist, and Taylor Swift fanatic.

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