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Sunday, September 15, 8.00 pm
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Programme

Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 3 in D minor

Without a doubt, one of the eagerly awaited highpoints of this year’s Dvořák Prague Festival is the concert of the Israel Philharmonic. Long regarded as one of the world’s best orchestras, it will be appearing under the baton of its artistic-director-for-life and chief conductor, the living conducting legend Zubin Mehta, who has been at the orchestra’s helm for an incredible fifty years. The programme they have chosen for their Prague concert can also be described as exceptionally fitting: Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, perhaps the most gigantic work of the standard symphonic repertoire. Also participating in the performance of this tremendous musical colossus will be the Japanese mezzo-soprano Mihoko Fujimura and two first-class vocal ensembles − the Prague Philharmonic Choir and the Prague Philharmonic Children’s Choir. Mahler’s ingenious score in the hands of performers of the highest calibre promises to be a powerful listening experience.

Concert without any intermission.

 

 

  • Dress code: dark suit
  • Doors close: 19.55
  • End of concert: 21.50

Artists

Israel Philharmonic

The Israel Philharmonic has long been regarded as one of the world’s best orchestras. It was established in 1936, when Arturo Toscanini conducted its inaugural concert in Tel Aviv. Over the years, the orchestra has collaborated with most of the most important conductors from around the world, including Leonard Bernstein, Serge Koussevitzky, Sergiu Celibidache, Carlo Maria Giulini, Istvan Ketesz, George Solti, Lorin Maazel, Daniel Barenboim, Rafael Kubelík, and Valery Gergiev. Zubin Mehta has been at the helm of the orchestra since 1977. Over the years of its existence, the orchestra has given several thousand concerts on five continents. The ensemble’s repertoire is extraordinary broad, covering the vast majority of the worldwide Classical and Romantic repertoire and music of the 20th century. Among those to have appeared as concerto partners with the orchestra have been such legendary performers as Arthur Rubinstein, Mstislav Rostropovich, David Oistrakh, Jascha Heifetz, Glenn Gould, and Plácido Domingo. The orchestra has made dozens of recordings for the Sony, EMI, Deutsche Gramophone, Teldec, and Decca labels.

Israel Philharmonic

Zubin Mehta

Zubin Mehta is one of the most famous conductors of the last several decades. A native of India who turns eighty-three this year, he studied piano, composition, and contrabass. After winning a conducting competition in Liverpool in 1958, he launched his brilliant artistic career, conducting practically all of the world’s important orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Vienna Philharmonic, just to name a few, and he was engaged successively at leading opera houses including La Scala in Milan, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and the Vienna State Opera. For over fifty years, his musical career has been associated primarily with the Israel Philharmonic, where he has been serving as a musical advisor since 1968 and as chief conductor since 1977. Four years later, he was appointed as its chief conductor for life. This year, however, he is planning to step down from the post, yielding to a younger successor. Maestro Mehta first introduced himself to the Prague public in 1962 and most recently at the Dvořák Prague Festival in 2014. He has been honoured with a number of important awards, including France’s Legion of Honour and the UN Lifetime Achievement Peace and Tolerance Award.

Zubin Mehta - conductor

Mihoko Fujimura

The Japanese mezzo-soprano Mihoko Fujimura received her musical training in Tokyo and Munich. She first attracted major attention in 2002 when she sang the role of Fricka at the Bayreuth Festival in Wagner’s operatic tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen. Besides her nine seasons at Bayreuth, she has made regular appearances at leading opera houses including the Vienna State Opera, London’s Covent Garden, La Scala in Milan, the Semper Opera House in Dresden, and the Teatro Real in Madrid. Among her most important roles on those stages have been Carmen, Kundry (Parsifal), Azucena (Il trovatore), Octavian (Der Rosenkavalier), Eboli (Don Carlos), and Amneris (Aida). She also devotes herself significantly to the concert repertoire, having sung Verdi’s Requiem and Schoenberg’s cantata Gurre-Lieder as well several works by Gustav Mahler including Das Lied von der Erde, Des Knaben Wunderhorn, and Kindertotenlieder. In 2014 she awarded a medal of honour by the Japanese government for her artistic achievements.

Mihoko Fujimura - mezzosoprano

Prague Philharmonic Choir

The Prague Philharmonic Choir, which has been appearing on concert stages for over eighty years, is one of Europe’s most important choral ensembles. It was established by the legendary Czech choirmaster Jan Kühn, who originally created the choir for Czechoslovak Radio broadcasts. The choir’s range of activities soon expanded to encompass regular concerts and recordings, and the extraordinary quality and breadth of its activities earned it widespread renown. The choir’s international prestige is 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 has also taken part in opera productions (La Scala in Milan). Since 2010 it has been the ensemble-in-residence at the famed Bregenzer Festspiele opera festival. The choir has long been working in close cooperation with the Czech Philharmonic; the recordings they have made together are among the finest releases of the Supraphon label.

Prague Philharmonic Choir

Lukáš Vasilek

Lukáš Vasilek studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and musicology at the Charles University Faculty of Arts. From 1998 he was the choirmaster of the Foerster Chamber Choral Association, with which he won 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 worked on several productions (The Kiss, Don Pasquale, La clemenza di Tito etc.). Since 2007, he has been the head choirmaster of the Prague Philharmonic Choir. His highly acclaimed work with this ensemble has included rehearsing and conducting a wide range of repertoire of a variety of stylistic periods as well as the realisation of several recordings. Vasilek also works as an orchestral conductor, and he is the founder of the chamber ensemble Martinů Voices, with which he devotes himself mainly to the interpretation of music of the 20th and 21st centuries. He also involves himself with the popularisation of choral singing. For example, in 2012 and 2016 he created two series about the art of choral singing for Czech Radio and served as the moderator for the programmes.

Prague Philharmonic Children’s Choir

The traditions of the Prague Philharmonic Children’s Choir date back to 1932, when the choirmaster Jan Kühn established the ensemble for the needs of the former state broadcasting company Czechoslovak Radio. From the very beginning, the choir’s main assets were the purity, refinement, and naturalness of the children’s voices; the choir has preserved theses qualities to this day. At present, the choir has more than nine hundred members 3 years of age and older, making it the largest choir in the Czech Republic. Over the years, it has performed in dozens of countries on five continents, and it has won a number of important prizes, including the 1998 European Grand Prix and three victories in 1998, 2008, and 2013 at the prestigious competition in Tolosa, Spain. Among the choir’s greatest successes have been performances at La Scala in Milan, New York’s Carnegie Hall, and the Bregenzer Festspiele. The choir has also devoted itself to making recordings, with over fifty albums to its credit featuring Czech and foreign music as well as a number of tapings for radio and television broadcasts. Its traditions and the breadth of its artistic scope have made it a unique artistic institution of its kind within a European context.

Prague Philharmonic Children’s Choir

Petr Louženský

Petr Louženský is a graduate of the Prague Conservatoire, where he studied flute and conducting, then at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague he earned a doctorate in the field of conducting. He regularly collaborates with a number of important Czech orchestras, including the Czech Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra in Pardubice, the Prague Philharmonia, the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic in Zlín, the South Bohemia Chamber Philharmonic, and the Moravian Philharmonic in Olomouc. For the last ten years, he has been the choirmaster of the Prague Philharmonic Children’s Choir. Under his leadership, in September 2010 the choir won the Grand Prix at one of the world’s biggest choral competitions in Arezzo, Italy. At the same time, Petr Louženský also won a special prize as the best conductor. In 2013, he led the Prague Philharmonic Children’s Choir to victory at the prestigious competition in Tolosa, Spain. In 2015 he took the choir on a successful tour of Australia and New Zealand – the only continent where the Prague Philharmonic Children’s Choir had not yet given concerts.

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.