Czech music lovers have a tradition that years ending in the number four are known as «music years.» But for the Czech Republic, 2004 is particularly special because this is the year the country joins the European Union. The Czech Culture Ministry decided to sponsor the Czech Music 2004 program, which is under the aegis of the country’s President Vaclav Klaus and European Commissioner Vivane Reding. The Culture Ministry has set up an information center at the Theater Institute to coordinate activities. Aimed at promoting Czech music at home and abroad, the program is also designed to help find new ways to present works with the participation of leading Czech musicians. Within Europe, the program focuses on renewing musical promotion networks and contacts with music fans as well as experts. In Greece, a light pink press release brings us news of the event to mark the accession of the Czech Republic to the European Union (officially on May 1, as for all 10 new members), organized by Athens Conservatory director Aris Garoufalis and Czech Ambassador Jana Bulenova, herself a gifted musician. On Monday, April 19, at 7 p.m., at the Athens Conservatory (Vas. Georgiou 17-18), Bulenova will inaugurate an exhibition titled «Personalities in Czech Music – V. Smetana, A. Dvorak, L. Janacek and B. Martinu,» part of the program that is touring the world. The exhibition was curated by the Prague Theater Institute in cooperation with the country’s Foreign Ministry and central government and is funded by the Foreign and Culture ministries. The opening will be followed by a concert by the Severacek Children’s Choir, the name being a derivative of the word «severak» which means north wind (the choir’s home town of Liberec is in the north of the country). Since its inception in 1958, it has become one of the leading choirs in the world and last performed in Athens 15 years ago. Choirmasters are Silvie and Petr Palka. The choir has toured over 20 countries in Europe, the USA, Canada, Syria and Jordan and taken part in 21 international competitions, winning 17 first prizes and four second prizes. Its greatest achievement was winning first prize in the children’s category in the international competition on the island of Jersey in November 2000 and at the Cantonigros in Catalonia in July 2003. It is the only Czech children’s choir that will be representing the country at the Expo 2005 in Japan. Its repertoire includes works from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods, as well as modern music and folk songs from around the world. Monday’s program includes Moravian folk songs and a Greek popular song, «Xekina.» Piano accompaniment is by Vilem Valkoun. The exhibition will continue until April 27 and will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., except Sundays. For further information call the Czech Embassy (210.671.9701).