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closing concert
Sunday, September 20, 2020, 8.00 pm
Czech Philharmonic

Programme

Antonín Dvořák: Love Songs, op. 83, B. 160 (arr. Jiří Teml)Antonín Dvořák: Czech Suite, op. 39, B. 93Sergei Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, op. 18

You can watch a recording of our concluding concert on our YouTube channel HERE.

With this concert, we brought to a successful conclusion our 13th-annual festival, which took place almost in its entirety in spite of all of the difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Although there was a change to the programme caused by the illness of some members of the Prague Philharmonic Choir, the concert left an unforgettable impression on the audience members in attendance. With Antonín Dvořák’s tender Love Songs orchestrated by Jiří Teml and sung with heartfelt emotion by Kateřina Kněžíková, the chamber music-like intimacy Dvořák’s Czech Suite, and the ecstatically symphonic approach to the performance of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto with the one and only Lukáš Vondráček at the piano, the public experienced a lovely evening.

We wish to thank the Czech Philharmonic and the evening’s soloists for enabling us to share this experience. We believe that the audience’s explosion of enthusiasm at the conclusion is an expression of the hope that a year from now, we will meet again at the festival under better conditions than those that accompanied this year’s festival.

  • Dress code: dark suit
  • Doors close: 19.50
  • End of concert: 21.40

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

Lukáš Vondráček

Lukáš Vondráček, who turns 34 this year, is known internationally as one of today’s most distinctive Czech performers. He is followed by his reputation as a prodigy: he began playing piano at age two, and a year later he gave his first public performance. At age eleven he issued his first CD, and two years after that he gave his first concert tour of the USA. At thirteen he began his university studies, and at fifteen he made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of Vladimir Ashkenazy. A highpoint of his artistic career so far was his triumph at the prestigious Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels in 2016, where he became the first Czech winner in history. He has appeared in solo recitals at a number of famed concert halls including Carnegie Hall in New York, the Elbephilharmonie in Hamburg, the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Konzerthaus in Vienna, and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. His appearances in the Czech Republic include this past January at the Municipal House in Prague with the Piano Concerto in F Minor by Frédéric Chopin. He is a long-time resident of Boston.

Petr Altrichter

Petr Altrichter made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic in 1979, and has subsequently conducted the Orchestra on numerous occasions in Prague, on tour in China, Germany, in Japan and Taiwan. 

He was raised in a musical family, and he played musical instruments from a young age. Having graduated from the conservatory in Ostrava as a French horn player and conductor, he continued his studies at the Janáček Academy of the Performing Arts in Brno in the fields of orchestral conducting under the guidance of Otakar Trhlík and František Jílek and choral conducting with the teachers Josef Veselka and Lubomír Mátl. After his studies in Brno, he worked as a choirmaster and conductor with the Brno Academic Choir, and he played a part in the earning of many prizes at foreign choral competitions and festivals (Middlesbrough, Debrecen…).


Altrichter attracted international attention in 1976, when he earned the title of laureate and a special prize from the jury at the renowned conducting competition in Besançon, France. On the basis of that prize, he became Václav Neumann’s assistant conductor with the Czech Philharmonic, and he started his own artistic career. Not long after that, he began to receive invitations to conduct orchestras abroad.

After a period of activity with the Brno Philharmonic, in 1988 he became a conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and in 1990 he became its principal conductor. With that orchestra, he made frequent foreign tours to Japan, the USA, Switzerland, Germany, France, and other countries. At the same time, he was engaged in long-term collaboration with the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra in Pardubice, with which he often gave performances abroad introducing many gifted young soloists (such as Isabelle van Keulen and Radek Baborák) who are now firmly established on concert stages around the world.

From 1993, he was the music director of the Southwest German Philharmonic Orchestra of Constance, with which he gave concerts regularly at the Tonhalle in Zurich and at the KKL in Lucerne, and he also toured Switzerland and Italy.

Petr Altrichter made his debut in the United Kingdom with the Prague Symphony Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival in 1993, and his London debut with the English Chamber Orchestra followed soon thereafter. In 1997 he was appointed as the principal conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic after having guest conducted the orchestra with great success during the previous season. He also made an appearance with that orchestra in 2000 at the BBC Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall, and he made a number of highly acclaimed recordings for the orchestra’s own label – RLPO Live.

In 2001 Altrichter was invited to take the helm of the Brno Philharmonic, and he remained there for seven years, returning to the orchestra with which he had been associated since his student days, and he still continues to guest conduct there regularly.

In 2015 he toured Germany with the Czech Philharmonic, and in late 2015 and early 2016, he toured China with the same orchestra. In the spring of 2017 he toured Japan with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and his 2018 calendar included a tour of the United Kingdom with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

He has guest conducted major orchestras abroad, including Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra, Berlin Symphony Orchestra, Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, Warsaw Philharmonic, Krakow Philharmonic, Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra in Baden-Baden, Latvian National Symphony Orchestra in Riga, Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra, Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic, Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, Royal Danish Orchestra in Copenhagen, and Odense Symphony Orchestra. In the United Kingdom he has collaborated with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

He has made guest appearances at major festivals in Salzburg, Edinburgh, Avignon, Athens, Cheltenham, Paris, Madrid, Chicago, Zurich, Lucerne, Vienne, Seville, Palermo, and elsewhere.

The bulk of Petr Altrichter’s repertoire consists of Czech music – Bedřich Smetana, Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, and Bohuslav Martinů, Russian music – especially Dmitri Shostakovich, and the works of Gustav Mahler and Anton Bruckner. Important soloists and performers from around the world (Garrick Ohlsson, John Lill, Tabea Zimmermann…) value his flexibility in leading orchestral accompaniments, and they seek out collaboration with him.

Source: Petr Altrichter

Petr Altrichter - conductor

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

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.