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An ‘ouverture’ to the festival in a place linked to the life and work of Antonín Dvořák
Saturday, September 2, 2023, 11.30 am
On the Trail of Dvořák

Free admission – without a prior reservation


Sacred songs harmonised by Jindřich Geisler: Mother of God, no one has heard in the whole world, Now he has been sacrificed, I believe in one God, A thousand times we greet TheeAntonín Dvořák: Mass in D Major, Op. 85, B 153 “Lužany Mass”, III: Credo

On the Trail of Antonín Dvořák is the traditional prelude to our festival, and this year it takes us to Olomouc. The metropolis of the Haná region is known for its wealth of history and for its landmarks of artistic value, and it was visited by many composers over the years. The source of Dvořák’s relationship with the city was his friendship with Jindřich Geisler, canon of the Olomouc cathedral chapter. Geisler was also a devoted organiser of local musical life and for many years was the chairman of Žerotín, an active local music society. Thanks to Dvořák’s work with Žerotín, the concerts repeatedly organised in Olomouc were some of the city’s most important cultural events in those days. Between 1884 and 1898, Dvořák conducted his own compositions there eleven times, mostly performing major works for voices and orchestra, and the local inhabitants showed an extraordinary level of interest. Among other things, Dvořák’s Te Deum was first heard in this country in Olomouc, and the city was also the site of the European continental premiere of his Requiem. Dvořák’s relationship with Olomouc and its musical society Žerotín can also be seen from the dedication to Žerotín of the oratorio Saint Ludmila, his largest sacred work.

  • Dress code: casual


Žerotín Academic Choir

The Žerotín Academic Choir, established in Olomouc in 1880, soon became one of the most important organisers of Czech cultural events in Moravia. It gave concerts and opera performances and worked with leading Czech artists (J. B. Foerster, Emmy Destinn). Of the greatest importance was its cooperation with A. Dvořák, who conducted the Žerotín Academic Choir several times, entrusted it with the first Czech performances of some of his cantatas, and dedicated to it his oratorio Saint Ludmila. It was also thanks to Žerotín’s activities that a music school was founded in Olomouc as well as a symphony orchestra—the present-day Moravian Philharmonic.

The choir’s repertoire encompasses all stylistic periods as well as arrangements of spirituals, folk music, and popular songs. Since 1999, the Žerotín Academic Choir has been working with the Moravian Philharmonic in Olomouc, regularly performing on the orchestra’s subscription series and at special concerts in works for choir and orchestra (e.g. Mozart: Requiem, Salieri: Requiem, Rossini: Stabat Mater, Britten: St. Nicolas, Gershwin: Porgy and Bess, Orff: Carmina Burana, Dvořák: Stabat Mater, Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms, Poulenc: Gloria etc.). Besides many concerts in the Czech Republic, the choir has also appeared in countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Slovakia, Greece, Italy, and Croatia.

Pavel Koňárek

Pavel Koňárek is a graduate of the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno, and he studied choral conducting under Josef Pančík and orchestral conducting under Jan Zbavitel. He has been employed at the National Theatre in Brno since 1997, first as an assistant choirmaster, then since 2000 as choirmaster. In 2016 he took over as chief choirmaster of the opera chorus at the Janáček Opera, a position held for many years by Josef Pančík. So far, he has prepared nearly 50 productions with the chorus of the Janáček Opera, and he has taken part in preparing dozens of others. With the National Theatre of Brno, he has appeared not only in many European cities, but also in Japan, Oman, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

Since 1995 he has been the artistic director and choirmaster of the Žerotín Academic Choir in association with the Moravian Philharmonic in Olomouc. Under his leadership, the choir has given about 300 concerts at home and around Europe, and it performs regularly at renowned Czech music festivals. It has recorded for SW Rundfunk in Baden-Baden, on the Vienna Modern Masters label, and for Czech Radio, and it has become a laureate of several choir competitions.

Pavel Koňárek is also engaged at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno, where he teaches choral conducting, and at the Conservatoire of the Evangelical Academy in Olomouc. He regularly receives invitations to teach choral singing courses, and as a choirmaster he works with the Moravian Philharmonic in Olomouc on the realisation of recordings for foreign partners.

Karel Martínek

Karel Martínek lives in his birthplace Olomouc, where he initially studied mathematics and physics at the Palacký University Faculty of Natural Sciences and later musicology at the Faculty of Arts. From 2004 to 2009 he studied organ at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno under the guidance of Prof. Kamila Klugarová and organ improvisation under Prof. Karel Pokora.

Already while studying at the academy, he took part actively at masterclasses taught by such world-famous organists as Susan Landale, Martin Sander, Günther Kaunzinger, Julian Gembalski, Reitze Smits, Olivier Latry, and Thomas Ospital. He also took part at several organ performance and improvisation competitions (Prague Spring, Schwäbisch Gmünd). In 2014 he began studying improvisation under the leadership of Philippe Lefebvre, the titular organist at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris.

Besides performing a wide range of works from the organ literature, Karel Martínek also devotes himself to improvisation. In the city of his birth, he has begun presenting evening concerts with themes inspired by texts from the Bible, combining organ improvisations with the spoken word. The inspiration for creating the project was Petr Eben’s Labyrinth of the World and Paradise of the Heart to texts by Jan Amos Comenius. Later, he launched the monumental project The Organ Bible, creating on-line presentations of improvisations for every chapter of the Bible beginning in 2012.

Martínek also taught organ improvisation from 2007 to 2009 at the Church Conservatoire in Opava. He teaches organ at the Conservatoire of the Evangelical Academy in Olomouc, and as part of his doctoral studies he teaches organ and improvisation at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno.

From 1994 to 2008 he was the organist at the Cathedral of St Wenceslas in Olomouc, then from 2010 until 2019 he was the organist at the Church of St Maurice in Olomouc, where he had at his disposal the great organ built by Michael Engler. He is now back at Olomouc’s Cathedral of St Wenceslas, where he has been serving as music director and organist since October 2020. At Olomouc’s churches, he also takes part in organising the International Organ Festival, of which he is the artistic director and the director of programming.

Karel Martínek collaborates regularly with important Moravian musical ensembles including the Moravian Philharmonic in Olomouc, the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic in Zlín, the Žerotín Academic Choir, and the Campanella Choir. He has recorded several CDs for Czech and American labels, and he has taken part in creating music for several documentary films for Palacký University.

Besides performing and improvising on the organ, he also composes. In addition to music for solo organ, he has also written several compositions for piano and works for choir and orchestra, some of which have won prizes at composition competitions.

Karel Martínek gives concerts at home and abroad (France, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Ukraine, and Lebanon). On his European concert tours, he has appeared at such important European churches as the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, the cathedral in Turin, and St Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna.

Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, Olomouc