Thursday, September 20, 8.00 pm
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Programme

Samuel Barber: Second Essay for OrchestraAntonín Dvořák: The American Flag, Op. 102, B. 177Leonard Bernstein: Symphony No. 2 for Piano and Orchestra, ‘The Age of Anxiety’

“An American Evening” would be a possible name for this concert, which brings together music by two leading American composers of the twentieth century: Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber. There will also be a rare performance of Antonín Dvořák’s cantata The American Flag. In this way, the festival is continuing to fulfil its long-term mission of familiarising audiences with Dvořák’s lesser-known opuses. The main star of the evening will be the legendary Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman, who will be paying tribute to Leonard Bernstein with a performance of his Symphony No. 2 (The Age of Anxiety). Appearing in Dvořák’s cantata will be two young singers making their Prague debut, the tenor Oliver Johnston and the baritone Samuel Dale Johnson.

  • Dress code: dark suit
  • Doors close: 19.55
  • End of concert: 21.45

Artists

Krystian Zimerman

For decades, the phenomenal Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman has been one of the most respected masters of his craft. A graduate of the Karol Szymanovski Academy of Music in Katovice, while a student he already earned a number of awards at international competitions, including first prize at the Chopin International Piano Competition as one of the youngest competitors. At twenty years of age, he made his debut with the Berlin Philharmonic, and three years later with the New York Philharmonic. Thanks to the perfectionism with which he prepares himself for every performance, he gives concerts relatively seldom. He is best known for his interpretations of music of the Romantic era, but his range of repertoire is enormously broad, and he promotes music by contemporary composers including Witold Lutosławski, who dedicated his Piano Concerto to him in 1988. So far, he has made more than thirty CD recordings, mostly on the Deutsche Grammophon label. He also devotes himself to teaching – for over twenty years, he has been teaching piano at the Academy of Music in Basel.

Veronika Hajnová

Mezzo soprano Veronika Hajnová is a graduate of the Bratislava Conservatory and the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. She has also take part in numerous master classes in this country and in Germany. While a student, she sang with the opera ensemble of the Josef Kajetán Tyl Theatre in Pilsen, first as a guest and later as an ensemble member. Since 2004 she has been a soloist with the State Opera in Prague, and she is currently engaged at the National Theatre in Prague and the National Theatre in Brno. Among her most important roles are Tchaikovsky’s Olga, Verdi’s Amneris and Azucena, Janáček’s Kostelnička, Dvořák’s Ježibaba, Bizet’s Carmen, and Wagner’s Venus. In the roles of Amneris and Carmen, she has also appeared on tour several times abroad in Japan, Spain, Portugal, France, Hungary, and elsewhere. Her concert repertoire includes Zefka from Janáček’s Diary of One Who Disappeared, the mezzo-soprano part in Verdi’s Requiem, and Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder. In 2003 and 2010 she was nominated for a Thalia Award.

Veronika Hajnová - mezzosoprano

Oliver Johnston

The English tenor Oliver Johnston graduated from London’ Royal Academy of Music. In 2016 he was selected for the Young Singers Project, through which the Salzburg Festival supports young, extraordinarily talented artists. Among the most important roles he has portrayed on the operatic stage are Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème, Pedrillo in Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, Giuseppe in Verdi’s La traviata, and Rinuccio in Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi. He has also sung the role of Melchior in the world premiere of Britten’s opera Wakening Shadow with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the conductor Vladimir Jurowski. He met with great acclaim for his performance in the title role of the opera Billy Budd by the same composer in New York under the baton of Mark Elder. He gives frequent solo recitals. His performances have included appearances at London’s Wigmore Hall, at the London Handel Festival, and the Chichester Festival. He has recorded little-known Schubert cantatas for BBC Radio 3.

Samuel Dale Johnson

The Australian baritone Samuel Dale Johnson is a graduate of the Queensland Conservatory. He first studied piano and percussion, but a choirmaster at the school noticed his obvious talent as a singer and recommended that he study solo singing. Already as a student, he was performing a number of important roles, such as Count Almaviva (The Marriage of Figaro), Gianni Schicchi, Pandolfe (La Cenerentola), Tonio and Silvio (Pagliacci), and Peter Quince (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), and he also sang the title role in a staged production of Handel’s oratorio Saul. During past seasons, he has performed on a number of important opera stages, including the Scottish Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, and the Northern Ireland Opera. His most important success so far was has been his repeated appearances at London’s Royal Opera in Covent Garden, where he has sung the roles of Silvio in Pagliacci, Theseus in George Enescu’s opera Oidipus, Moralès in Bizet’s Carmen, and Zalzal in Emmanuel Chabrier’s L'étoile.

Slovak Philharmonic Choir

The Slovak Philharmonic Choir was founded in 1946 as the Bratislava Radio Mixed Choir under the leadership of the conductor Ladislav Slovák. In 1957 it was organisationally combined with the Slovak Philharmonic, and it gained its present name. During over half a century of the choir’s artistic activities, it has established itself as an ensemble of extraordinary quality, as is indicated by its collaborations with renowned conductors from around the world including Claudio Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, Lorin Maazel, Kurt Masur, Zubin Mehta, Antonio Pedrotti, Helmuth Rilling, and many others. Besides its regular concert activities in its homeland, the choir also goes on tours abroad several times each year. It has appeared in most European countries as well as Morocco, Turkey, and Japan. It collaborates with prestigious foreign orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Israel Philharmonic. The choir also has an extensive discography to its credit with recordings for a number of distinguished labels (Deutsche Grammophon, Naxos, Decca, Opus, and Supraphon among others).

Štefan Sedlický

Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra

One of the most important and also oldest orchestral ensembles in the Czech Republic, the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra has served for many decades as a universal symphonic ensemble with a broad repertoire of both concert and operatic music. Permanent and guest conductors have included such prominent figures as Václav Talich, Karel Ančerl, Václav Neumann, Vladimír Válek, and Charles Mackerras. Presently the chief conductor is Ondrej Lenárd. Many world-renowned composers, including Sergei Prokofiev and Aram Khachaturian, have conducted their own compositions with this ensemble. The orchestra has always devoted itself intensively to recording, and deserves credit for recordings of many works by the Czech classics that are not a common part of the performing repertoire. This pertains for example to several of the less frequently-heard operas of Antonín Dvořák: King and Collier, The Stubborn Lovers, Vanda, The Peasant a Rogue, and Dmitry. In view of this tradition we may consider the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra an ideal medium for resurrection of Dvořák’s Alfred.

Alexander Liebreich

The renowned German conductor Alexander Liebreich is a graduate of the Munich University of Music and the Performing Arts and of the Mozarteum in Salzburg. The beginning of his artistic career was influenced significantly by Claudio Abbado, who invited him to collaborate with the Berlin Philharmonic at the Salzburger Osterfestspiele. From 2006 to 2016 he was the chief conductor of the Munich Chamber Orchestra, and in 2012 he took the helm of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. During his career, he has collaborated with many first-class orchestras around the world (including the Concertgebouw Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich) and with illustrious soloists (Krystian Zimerman, Gautier Capuçon, Isabelle Faust). Besides his conducting activities, he is also known as an initiator and promoter of new musical projects. For example, since 2015 he has been the artistic director of a new festival, Katowice Kultura Natura. Beginning with the current season, he is the chief conductor of the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.

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.