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Sunday, September 20, 8.00 pm

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Programme

Sergej Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, op. 18Antonín Dvořák: In Nature's Realm, Op. 91, B. 168Antonín Dvořák: Te Deum, Op. 103, B. 176

This year’s Dvořák Prague Festival will conclude with a celebration of nature as divine creation and with a hymn of praise to God. Preceding them will be the Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor by Sergei Rachmaninoff played by Lukáš Vondráček – the curator of the Chamber Series will say farewell this year’s festival as the soloist at a symphonic concert. The entire programme can be seen not only as a farewell, but also, above all, as an expression of thanks, concealing within it a reminder of the fundamental values for which the Dvořák Prague Festival stands. The Czech Philharmonic has been the orchestra-in-residence of the festival since its inception, and its participation has come to feel like a matter of course. With artistic life having been silenced this spring because of the coronavirus epidemic, it is now important to realise how extraordinary the things are that we sometimes take for granted. Related to this is the music of Antonín Dvořák, upon whose legacy the festival is building its name and reputation. The overture In Nature’s Realm and the oratorio Te Deum are among Dvořák’s most popular compositions, but playing them together adds a new dimension of content in the atmosphere of a world trying to find its way back from uncertainty to at least relative stability.

  • 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

Petr Altrichter

For decades now Petr Altrichter has ranked among the foremost Czech conductors. After studies at the Ostrava Conservatoire and the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts in Brno he soon drew major attention at the international conducting competition in Besançon, where he won second prize and a special prize from the French composers’ union. He has led the majority of the most important Czech orchestras including the Czech Philharmonic, and from 1997 to 2001 served as chief conductor and artistic director of the Royal Philharmonic of Liverpool. While working in Great Britain he has promoted Czech music very intensively. He is regularly invited to conduct major orchestras of the world such as the London Philharmonic and the Berlin Symphony. His conducting style is distinguished by great vitality and spontaneous musicality.

Lukáš Vondráček

The pianist Lukáš Vondráček, who turns 34 this year, is one of the most successful and distinctive Czech performers in recent times on an international scale. He is followed by his reputation of 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 v 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.

Kateřina Kněžíková

The artist’s profile will be added soon.

Kateřina Kněžíková - soprano

Svatopluk Sem

The Czech baritone Svatopluk Sem, a graduate of the České Budějovice Conservatoire, is a regular guest of the most important Czech opera houses including the National Theatre in Prague, the J. K. Tyl Theatre in Plzeň, the National Theatre in Brno, and the Moravian-Silesian National Theatre in Ostrava. He also performs in concert repertoire, not only in the Czech Republic but on numerous concert stages in Japan, Denmark, South Korea, Austria, Spain, Germany, Russia, and England, working with outstanding conductors like Jiří Bělohlávek, Heiko Mathias Förster, and Tomáš Netopil. He shared in the recording of Smetana's The Bartered Bride with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Jiří Bělohlávek for the Harmonia Mundi label, and in the BBC documentary film Rolando meets Don Giovanni, appearing in that opera's title role alongside Rolando Villazón.

Svatopluk Sem - baritone

Prague Philharmonic Choir

Last year, the Prague Philharmonic Choir celebrated its 85th year of activity as one of Europe’s most important choral ensembles. Its founder, the legendary Czech choirmaster Jan Kühn, originally created the choir for Czechoslovak Radio broadcasts. Soon, however, the choir expanded its activities to include regular concert appearances and recordings of an exceptional quality and broad scope that made the ensemble widely respected. The choir’s international prestige can be documented by its collaborations with many of the world’s top conductors (Erich Kleiber, Riccardo Muti, Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Zubin Mehta, Simon Rattle) and orchestras (Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Israel Philharmonic). The choir is a regular guest at prestigious music festivals around the world, and it even takes part in opera productions (La Scala in Milan). It has long been in close cooperation with the Czech Philharmonic. The choir also supports young talents: since 2012 it has regularly held the Academy of Choral Singing, a two-year study programme intended for students and secondary schools and universities.

Prague Philharmonic Choir

Lukáš Vasilek

Lukáš Vasilek studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts and musicology at the Charles University Faculty of Arts. Since 1998 he has served as the choirmaster of the Foerster Chamber Choir Association, with which he has earned a number of awards at prestigious international competitions. From 2005 to 2007 he was the second choirmaster of the National Theatre opera chorus in Prague, where he trained the chorus for several operas (The Kiss, Don Pasquale, La clemenza di Tito etc.). Since 2007 he has been the chief choirmaster of the Prague Philharmonic Choir. His highly acclaimed work with this ensemble encompasses the rehearsing and conducting of a broad repertoire of various stylistic periods as well as the making of many recordings, including an exceptionally successful CD with the cantatas of Bohuslav Martinů. Vasilek also works as an orchestral conductor, and he is the founder of the chamber choir Martinů Voices, with which he devotes himself mainly to the interpretation of music of the 20th and 21st centuries. He is also involved with the popularisation of choral singing, including the creation and moderating of two series on the art of choral singing for Czech Radio in 2012 and 2016.

Lukáš Vasilek - choirmaster

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.