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opening concert
Friday, September 7, 2018, 8.00 pm
Dvořák Collection

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Programme

Antonín Dvořák: The Spectre’s Bride, Op. 69, B. 135

The festival’s opening concert promises to be a unique experience. As part of the festival’s main programming series, the Dvořák Collection, there will be a performance of a work by two creators – the greatest icons of the Czech cultural tradition Antonín Dvořák and Karel Jaromír Erben. The cantata for soloists, mixed choir, and orchestra titled The Spectre’s Bride is an ideal synthesis of Erben’s stirring text and of the composer’s inexhaustible musical invention. Performing one of Antonín Dvořák’s greatest works for solo voices, choir, and orchestra will be the Czech Philharmonic with the conductor Jakub Hrůša and the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno together with the superb soloists Kateřina Kněžíková, Richard Samek, and Svatopluk Sem.

  • Dress code: black tie
  • Doors close: 19.55
  • End of concert: 21.30

Artists

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 core international repertoire, it is sought out most often for its superb interpretations of the classics by the great Czech composers in a tradition built up by great conductors (Talich, Kubelík, Ančerl, Neumann, and Bělohlávek). In 2008 the prestigious magazine Gramophone ranked it among the twenty best orchestras of the world. One of the orchestra’s most important recent projects has recording Tchaikovsky’s complete orchestral works for the Decca Label with Semyon Bychkov conducting. Since the inception of the Dvořák Prague Festival, the Czech Philharmonic has been its resident orchestra, and since 2018 it has been a holder of the Antonín Dvořák Prize for promoting and popularising Czech classical music abroad and in the Czech Republic.

Czech Philharmonic

Richard Samek

Tenor Richard Samek was born in Třebíč and graduated from the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts. In 2006, he made his debut on the stage of the National Theatre in Brno. At present he is a regular guest at the National Theatre in Prague, where his roles include Alfredo (La traviata), Werther (Werther), Tamino (The Magic Flute), and the Prince (Rusalka). He makes guest appearances on a number of stages abroad, including the Grand Théâtre de Reims, the Opéra de Limoges, the Opéra de Rennes, the Theater Magdeburg, and the Semperoper in Dresden. In 2015 he took part in a live recording of Smetana’s opera Dalibor with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jiří Bělohlávek. He has worked with such outstanding orchestras as the Czech Philharmonic, the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. He appears regularly at international music festivals, including the Prague Spring Festival, the Dvořák Prague Festival, the Seefestspiele Mörbisch, and Smetana’s Litomyšl.

Richard Samek - tenor

Jakub Hrůša

Jakub Hrůša is one of the most active and influential representatives of Czech musical culture and of the Czech school of conducting around the world. He regularly conducts top orchestras in Europe and the USA. He is currently the chief conductor of the Bamberg Symphony and the principal guest conductor of the Czech Philharmonic and from the 21/22 season, of the Orchestra dell´Accademia Nationale di Santa Cecilia Rome. From 2009 to 2015 he served as the music director and chief conductor of the PKF − Prague Philharmonia. Among his most important engagements have been repeated invitations from the Vienna Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the Orchestre de Paris, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. He guest conducts regularly at the BBC Proms, and awaiting him in the coming season is his Salzburg Festival debut. Maestro Hrůša has an equal affinity for the concert repertoire and opera. He appears regularly as a guest at the opera festival in Glyndebourne and with the Vienna State Opera, London’s Royal Opera, the Opéra national de Paris, and the Frankfurt Opera, while appearing occasionally at Czech opera houses as well. For his recording of compositions by Dvořák and Martinů and for a DVD recording of the opera Vanessa at the festival in Glyndebourne, he recently won a BBC Music Magazine Award. His active interest in the composer Josef Suk, Antonín Dvořák’s son-in-law, has been reflected in his activity with this year’s Dvořák Prague Festival and the subsequent season of the Czech Philharmonic. Suk’s complete orchestral music is now his priority recording project. A common denominator of his activity abroad has been his steadfast promotion of the music of Czech composers in particular. For this activity, the Academy of Classical Music has awarded him the 2020 Antonín Dvořák Prize.

Kateřina Kněžíková

Soprano Kateřina Kněžíková is one of the most prominent Czech singers of both the opera and concert repertoires. In 2018 she won the 2018 Classic Prague Award for the best chamber music performance and the 2019 Thalia Award for extraordinary performing on stage. Since 2006 she has been a member of the opera company of the National Theatre, where she has appeared in productions of Carmen, The Jacobin, The Magic Flute, and The Marriage of Figaro. She also makes guest appearances on other Czech and foreign opera stages (National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava, Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Theatre de Caen, Opéra Royal de Versailles, Théâtre Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels, Opéra de Dijon). She has worked with important conductors (P. Domingo, M. Honeck, J. Hrůša, T. Netopil, R. Ticciati, E. Villaume) and ensembles (BBC Symphony Orchestra, Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, Collegium 1704, Czech Philharmonic, DSO Berlin). She has taken part in the making of several recordings for the Harmonia Mundi, Decca, Supraphon, Radioservis, and Mezzo labels.

 

Kateřina Kněžíková - soprano

Petr Fiala

Choirmaster Petr Fiala graduated from the Brno Conservatoire in piano, composition, and conducting. He has composed many dozens of work for voices, orchestra, and chamber ensembles, and for years served as a professor at the Brno Conservatoire. Apart from teaching and composing, for five decades now he has been known above all for his work as a choirmaster and conductor. In 1990 he founded the Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno, which under his leadership has earned a position among the best choral ensembles in Europe. He has won honours in many domestic and international competitions, and serves as an instructor in conducting courses as well as a member of international juries. He is often invited to conduct works for chorus and orchestra as a guest both at home and abroad. In 2009 he received the Order of Cyril and Methodius from the Czech Bishops’ Conference, and four years later he was honoured by the Prize of the City of Brno.

Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno

The Czech Philharmonic Choir of Brno ranks among the finest European ensembles in its field today. Established only twenty-eight years ago in 1990, it has already become—under the leadership of its founder, music director, and choirmaster Petr Fiala—one of the most sought-after choral ensembles. It has worked with many conductors from both Czechia and abroad including Jiří Bělohlávek, Charles Dutoit, Roger Norrington, Zubin Mehta, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and Kurt Masur, and is a frequent guest on numerous concert stages in Vienna, London, Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, Lucerne, Basel, Rome, the Vatican, Nürnberg, Dresden, Prague, and elsewhere in Europe. The choir has made many acclaimed recordings for both Czech and foreign labels. For its recording of motets by Anton Bruckner it won a prestigious Echo Klassik award in 2007, and its recording of Liszt’s oratorio Christus was declared ‘Recording of the Year 2007’ in Germany.

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.

Download the Dvořák hall plan HERE.