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Wednesday, September 13, 2017, 8.00 pm
Dvořák Collection IV


Antonín Dvořák: Requiem, op. 89, B. 165

Dvořák’s Requiem had its world premiere in 1891 at the music festival in Birmingham, England, which had commissioned him to write a work ‘of first importance’. When composing it Dvořák was at the height of his creative powers, and he decided to express in this work the prowess and world view he had achieved during the fifty years of his life both as a composer and as a human being: he 'speaks' of his relation to God and seeks answers to the most fundamental questions of human existence, but without spectacle, exaggerated pathos, or weepiness. On this evening the work will sound in a rendition by world-renowned soloists Ailyn Pérez, Christianne Stotijn, Michael Spyres, and Jan Martínek with the Prague Philharmonic Choir and the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Dress code: dark suit
  • Doors close: 19.55
  • End of concert: 21.45


Prague Philharmonic Choir

The Prague Philharmonic Choir is one of Europe’s most important choral ensembles. Founded in 1934 by the legendary choral conductor Jan Kühn, the choir’s original focus of activity as a radio ensemble soon expanded with regular concerts, while its recording activity showcased the choir’s excellence and diversity, earning it wide respect. The choir’s international renown is documented by its collaborations with many of the world’s top conductors (Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Manfred Honeck, Daniel Barenboim, Fabio Luisi, Sir Simon Rattle) and orchestras (Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic). The choir is a regular guest at prestigious music festivals abroad, and it has taken part in opera productions (La Scala, Bregenzer Festspiele). The choir also supports young talent: since 2012 it has been operating an Academy of Choral Singing with a two-year course of study for secondary-school and university students.

Prague Philharmonic Choir

Lukáš Vasilek

Lukáš Vasilek studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and musicology at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University. From 1998 he was the choirmaster of the Foerster Female Chamber Choir, with which he won a number of awards at prestigious international competitions. From 2005 to 2007 he was the second choirmaster of the opera chorus at Prague’s National Theatre, where he directed rehearsals for several opera productions. Since 2007 he has been the chief choirmaster of the Prague Philharmonic Choir. His highly acclaimed work with that choir includes rehearsing and conducting a broad repertoire from various stylistic periods as well as making several recordings, including an exceptionally successful CD of cantatas by Bohuslav Martinů. Vasilek also works as an orchestral conductor and is the founder of the Martinů Voices chamber choir, where he focuses mainly on interpreting music of the 20th and 21st centuries. He actively works to popularise choral music, having served as moderator in 2012 and 2016 for two programmes on Czech Radio on the art of choral singing.

Lukáš Vasilek - choirmaster

Ailyn Pérez

Hailed by the New York Times as ‘a beautiful woman who commands the stage’, American soprano with Mexican roots Ailyn Pérez dazzles audiences with her talent and charm in the world’s leading opera houses, appearing regularly in such venues as the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, the Royal Opera Covent Garden, and the Berlin State Opera performing roles like Mimi in La bohème, Violetta in La Traviata, Juliette in Romeo et Juliette, and the title role in Massenet’s Manon. A graduate of Philadelphia’s Academy of Vocal Arts and Indiana University, she has won both the 2012 Richard Tucker Award and the fifteenth annual Plácido Domingo Award. Her many other accolades include the George London Foundation’s Leonie Rysanek Award, a Shoshana Foundation Career Grant, second place in the Plácido Domingo Operalia Competition, and honours from Opera Index and the Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation. Recently she has sung opposite stars like Plácido Domino, Andrea Bocelli, and José Carreras with outstanding conductors such as Antonio Pappano and Yannick Nézet Séguin. Her debut album Poème d’un jour on the Opus Arte label was released to rave reviews.

Ailyn Pérez - soprano

Jakub Hrůša

Jakub Hrůša is one of the most highly-respected conductors of the young generation. He studied conducting at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts under Jiří Bělohlávek among others before continuing his education at the Universität der Künste in Berlin. When only eighteen he received three major honours in the Prague Spring International Conducting Competition, and three years later he won the Lovro von Matačić International Conducting Competition in Zagreb. He has already worked with most Czech professional orchestras as well as numerous orchestras abroad including the London Philharmonic, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig. He is active in the field of opera as well, having conducted such works as Carmen, Don Giovanni, Rusalka, The Cunning Little Vixen, and Boris Godunov in Prague’s National Theatre, Copenhagen’s Royal Danish Theatre, and the opera festival in Glyndebourne, England. Also highly acclaimed are his recordings on the Supraphon, Octavia Records, and Universal labels.
Regular guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic and principal guest conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, since last season he has also been chief conductor of the Bamberg Symphony.

Jakub Hrůša - conductor

Czech Philharmonic

The Czech Philharmonic is the foremost Czech orchestra and has long held a place among the most esteemed representatives of Czech culture on the international scene. The beginning of its rich history is linked to the name of Antonín Dvořák, who on 4 January 1896 conducted the ensemble’s inaugural concert. Although the orchestra performs a broad range of the basic international repertoire, it is sought out most often for its superb interpretations of works by the Czech classics, in a tradition built by excellent conductors like Václav Talich, Rafael Kubelík, Karel Ančerl, and Václav Neumann. The ensemble has won many international honours for its recordings, the first of which it made already in 1929: Smetana’s My Country with Talich. In 2008 the prestigious magazine Gramophone ranked it among the twenty best orchestras of the world. Since the inception of the Dvořák Prague Festival the Czech Philharmonic has been its resident orchestra.

Czech Philharmonic

Christianne Stotijn

Dutch mezzo-soprano Christianne Stotijn studied violin and voice at the conservatoire in Amsterdam, then continued her vocal studies with such world-renowned artists as Udo Reinemann and Janet Baker. A profound influence on her career has been her work with conductor Bernard Haitink, under whose direction she has sung with ensembles including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, and the London Symphony. She has performed in world premières of various contemporary works as well as in opera, and regularly appears with chamber musicians such as violist Antoine Tamestet, her brother the contrabassist Rick Stotijn, and the Oxalys Ensemble. Her acclaimed discography includes for example a recording of Tchaikovsky songs for Onyx and most recently her debut recording for Warner Classics, If the Owl Calls Again. Over the years she has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Echo Rising Stars Award for 2005/2006, the Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award in 2005, and the Nederlands Muziekprijs in 2008. In 2007 she was selected as a BBC New Generation Artist.

Christianne Stotijn - mezzo-soprano

Jan Martiník

Born in Ostrava in 1983, Jan Martiník studied at the conservatoire and the university there, and it was also in Ostrava that he obtained his first theatrical engagement, with the Moravian-Silesian National Theatre. In 2007 he advanced to the finals in Plácido Domingo's ‘Operalia’ competition, and in 2009 he won first place in the category of Song in the BBC 'Singer of the World' contest in Cardiff. From 2008 to 2011 he was a regular soloist with the Comic Opera in Berlin. He is a frequent guest of the National Theatre in Prague, and has also appeared as a guest on opera stages in Košice and Erfurt among other venues. Since the 2012-13 season he has been a regular soloist with State Opera in Berlin. He has sung in concerts with the Czech Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Rotterdam Philharmonic, the BBC Proms Orchestra, and the Czech ensemble Collegium 1704.

Michael Spyres

Tenor Michael Spyres grew up in a family of American musicians. After beginning his studies in the U.S.A. he continued his education at the Vienna Conservatory. He first sprang to international attention as an ensemble member of the German Opera in Berlin where he debuted as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte in 2008. Since then he has performed in numerous opera theatres and festivals worldwide. In the 2016-17 season his engagements include for example the title roles in Les Contes d'Hoffmann with the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, in Orlando Paladino in Zurich, and in Mozart's Mitridate ri di Ponto at London's Covent Garden. Spyres has worked with conductors such as Riccardo Muti, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Sir Andrew Davis, and Sir Mark Elder. In recordings we find him for instance in Rossini's La gazzetta, Donizetti's Les Martyrs and Le Duc d'Albe, and Verdi's Otello, as well as on his solo album on the Delos label, A Fool For Love.

Michael Spyres - tenor

Rudolfinum, Dvořák Hall

The Rudolfinum is one of the most important Neo-Renaissance edifices in the Czech Republic. In its conception as a multi-purpose cultural centre it was quite unique in Europe at the time of its construction. Based on a joint design by two outstanding Czech architects, Josef Zítek and Josef Schultz, a magnificent building was erected serving for concerts, as a gallery, and as a museum. The grand opening on 7 February 1885 was attended by Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria, in whose honour the structure was named. In 1896 the very first concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra took place in the Rudolfinum's main concert hall, under the baton of the composer Antonín Dvořák whose name was later bestowed on the hall.