The Košice Space Programme was revealed in the State Theatre

Invited guests, many prominent figures in political and social life from Slovakia, European institutions and several European countries filled the historical Košice State Theatre (ST) at 4.00pm today. The event started with speeches by the President of SR Ivan Gašparovič, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism, Sport, Media and Youth Androulla Vassiliou, Prime Minister of SR Robert Fico,Minister of Culture SR Marek MaďaričMayor of Košice Richard Raši and the Chairman of the Košice Self-Governing Region (KSGR) Zdenko Trebuľa, who started the official part of the Košice – European Capital of Culture (ECOC) 2013 Opening Ceremony.

Honoured guests were first invited by Mayor of Košice, Richard Raši, and he emphasised that Košice is currently the most dynamically developing city in Slovakia. He gave thanks for the support Košice received from the European Union and expressed pride and emotion at how Košice seized this opportunity and decided to influence its future. “We are responsibly and purposefully implementing the largest project in the rich and long history of our city.  I hope that via culture and art, we will open our doors wide to the whole of Europe and open Europe to all the people of Košice,“ said Richard Raši.

According to the Chairman of KSGR, Zdenko Trebuľa, Košice really deserves this title and he expressed confidence that the city and region will be able to manage everything that stands ahead, and should be proud of their future. “I would like all our visitors to leave with an amazing experience and that they would always happily return to Košice,” added Zdenko Trebuľa.

The President of SR, Ivan Gašparovič, stated that this title is not only an honour for Košice and the people of Košice but also for all the citizens of the Slovak Republic. “I’m very glad that I could be amongst the first to congratulate and heartily thank you for all the effort you have made in achieving this success,” he said.

On behalf of the Government SR, its Prime Minister Robert Fico also gave thanks for the great presentation of the Slovak Republic. “I appreciate the unique culture and originality of Eastern Slovakia and Košice which contributes significantly towards the nature of Slovak cultural life. It gives it a particular dimension and also confidence within Europe,” he said. He spoke of the rich history of Košice and emphasised the fact that, as the first city in Europe, Košice obtained the right to use a coat of arms. “Košice deserves to be the European Capital of Culture, for those who live here now as well as those who lived here in the past. The rich history and unique originality of Eastern Slovakia, enriching its past as well as its present, gives us a fantastic opportunity to use the fact that Košice has become the ECOC for its excellent representation as well as for the whole of the Slovak Republic,“ added Robert Fico.

According to the Minister of Culture SRMarek Maďarič, the Košice – ECOC 2013 project is the largest and most significant cultural project in the history of the Slovak Republic. “It may become and definitely will become another important milestone in the successful Slovak story of the past twenty years,” he said. It is not only expected to represent Slovakia via hundreds of successful events in Košice and the region, but also to fulfil the assumption that if culture is thoughtfully and sufficiently supported, it becomes an important factor in the development of society. “More culture means more creativity and more creativity automatically strengthens the innovative ability of the nation. Nowadays, more innovation is also a necessary basis for the economic success of the state,” emphasised Marek Maďarič.

The European Commissioner for Education and Culture, Androulla Vassiliou, reminded that the ECOC project is one of the main initiatives of the European Union, and probably one of the projects most well known and most appreciated by European citizens. “The initiative is a clear illustration of the European Union’s commitment to cultural diversity, but it also shows how culture can unite people across borders in Europe. It demonstrates that the European Union is more than just a market; it reminds us that culture is the heart and soul of our shared European project,” said the European Commissioner. She also emphasised that unifying people, not states, but unifying Europeans was the main ambition of the founding fathers of the European Union. “I am sure that Košice, and Slovakia as a whole, will take this opportunity to strengthen, through culture, the ties that unite us all. You will show to the rest of Europe how this city can contribute to the European integration process” Androulla Vassiliou ended the official speeches

The artistic programme in the Košice State Theatre, although prepared more conservatively than the following Grand Opening Show at Lower Gate, also carried the spirit of mystification. The main motif was “disclosure” of the secret plan of the Košický Vesmírny Program (Košice Space Programme). The notoriously known abbreviation, KVP (Košice Governmental Programme) gained a new meaning. The surprising relationship was explained not only by presenters Marcel Forgáč and Milan Zimnýkoval, but also by a video which was part of the programme. The creators definitely included a sense of creativity as well as humour and mischief. The Košice ECOC 2013 project was presented as connection of creative thought, brave visions and exceptional creations. “All the engaged artists wanted to contribute towards the uniqueness of the ECOC opening by offering original connections and the individual programme numbers were created especially for this evening,” said the scriptwriter and director of the main programme in the ST,Adriana Totiková.

The musical opening was by the Košice State Theatre Orchestra. Under the baton of the graduate of the Košice Conservatoire and currently living in New York, Peter Breiner, the orchestra played his arrangement of the well known folk song, “Ej, Zalužické poľo” from a cycle called Slovak Dances. After the official guests, there was a presentation by the long-established Košice folklore ensemble, Železiar, with the young multi-national dance group, Credance. For the audience, they had prepared an unusual, remarkable combination of traditional folklore with modern stylistics of folklore dance called Roots and Wings. They were followed on the stage by the AMC Trio, a trio of excellent jazzmen from Prešov, whose music is built on diversity and the elegant musicality of presented themes, also inspired by popular music or themes from Eastern Slovakia folklore. The connection of music and dance followed by a joint performance by the guitarist, musical composer and experimenter, Dávid Kollár with Debris Company dance theatre. The winner of the second series of Czecho-Slovakia SuperStar, Lukáš Adamec, with his bandSiEMPRE, brought a bit of rock for a change, in the form of a modified piece called Spadla z oblakov (She fell from a cloud) from the famous film, Majka z Gurunu. They were followed on the stage by Ida Kelarová with a band and a lively children’s choir consisting of almost thirty children from ITP Slovakia community centres and students from the Conservatoire in Exnárova Street in Košice. Their cooperation arose from the Rómske hlasy pre zajtrajšok (Roma Voices for Tomorrow) project which is part of the ECOC project. The gala programme culminated in a performance by the Veni Academy ensemble, called “knights of new music” by the presenters. The ensemble was also created thanks to ECOC. It gathers young musicians, students in conservatoires and arts academies who interpret contemporary music. “It is a pioneer project unique in Slovakia and works under the guidance of composer Daniel Matej,“ clarified the dramaturge of the main programme of the Opening Ceremony, Jana ŠargováIn her words, by the atypical connections between various artists, types of music and genres, the programme creators wanted to introduce the diversity of the Košice 2013 project and all its parts.

From 6.00pm, after the end of the official programme in the ST, the Opening Ceremony carried on with the Grand Opening Show at Lower Gate. The whole gala programme in the ST could be watched live by the people of Košice on large screens next to the main stage. It was also accessible via the internet on

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