On the occasion of the Saint Martin of Tours holiday on 11 November, some 80 children and young adults from excluded localities around the Czech Republic travelled to Prague for an informal gathering at AMU’s Music and Dance Faculty with successful Romani pianist Tomáš Kačo. Tomáš, who grew up in similar circumstances, recounted his inspirational story and encouraged his young audience not to be afraid to pursue their dreams even if they sometimes seem unattainable.
Tomáš Kačo is from Nový Jičín, where he grew up with eleven siblings in a small apartment – as he puts it “in a one-room flat”. He began to play piano at the age of five, although he did not learn to read music until he was eleven. Despite his family’s reservations, he was able to study at the Ostrava Conservatory, which in turn led him to Prague and AMU’s Music and Dance Faculty, where he studied initially under Boris Krajný and later under Ivo Kahánek. His American adventure began at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, from which he graduated with honours in two years. Today, he plays, composes and teaches in Los Angeles, and he recently gave a sold-out concert performance at Carnegie Hall.
The young people at the gathering – mostly secondary- or vocational-school students took Tomáš as one of their own. They listened to his story with great interest for almost two hours, and when Tomáš finished they surrounded him. Everyone wanted to be photographed with him, everyone needed to touch him. He was a living dream that they had to capture on their smartphones as proof that he was real – that they had not merely imagined him. Professor Noemi Zárubová, who represented HAMU at the event, commented on its impact as follows: “I was most pleased by some news that arrived the day after our Sunday gathering. Štefan, a field officer from Sokolov, is responsible for three boys who sat right behind the piano. They asked Tomáš how they could become better musicians… but they had never had formal training, so immediately on Monday they signed up to attend a music school.”
Thanks to this gathering, AMU graduate Tomáš Kačo has returned to his alma mater and in his memories to his childhood in Nový Jičín in Moravia. One of the university’s important tasks is to invite inspirational role models and to share their stories with young people living in excluded social groups.
The informal gathering took place thanks to cooperation between HAMU, the Albatros foundation and People in Need.