Czech Philharmonic / Jiří Bělohlávek
Josef Špaček is fast emerging as one of the most accomplished violinists of his generation. He studied with Itzhak Perlman at The Juilliard School in New York, Ida Kavafian and Jaime Laredo at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and with Jaroslav Foltýn at the Prague Conservatory. He was laureate of the International Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and won top prizes at the Michael Hill International Violin Competition in New Zealand, the Carl Nielsen International Violin Competition in Denmark and the Young Concert Artists International Auditions in New York.
Highlights in 2016 include subscription concerts with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Valery Gergiev (Beethoven concerto), his debut with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek (Dvořák concerto), his Berlin debut with the Konzerthausorchester Berlin and Thomas Sanderling (Beethoven concerto), his Amsterdam Concertgebouw debut with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra and Thomas Søndergård (Nielsen concerto), his Tokyo debut with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Jakub Hrůša (Dvořák concerto) and the Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto and Marco Angius (Brahms concerto), as well as recital debuts in among others Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and La Jolla, San Diego. He will also be the soloist of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek during their Asia tour.
Josef Špaček has served as concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, the youngest in its history, until December 2015. The orchestra has named him “Associate Artist” as of January 2016.
In addition to the afore-mentioned orchestras Josef Špaček makes solo appearances with orchestras across Europe, the US and Asia, such as the Philadelphia Orchestra, Prague Philharmonia, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg, Essener Philharmoniker, Tonkünstlerorchester Niederösterreich, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI Torino, Orchestre National de Belgique, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, Kansas City Symphony and Queensland Symphony Orchestra.
He collaborates with conductors such as Jiří Bělohlávek, Jakub Hrůša, Valery Gergiev, Christoph Eschenbach, Manfred Honeck, Semyon Bychkov, Asher Fisch, Roy Goodman, Eliahu Inbal, Jun Märkl, Thomas Søndergård, Thomas Sanderling, Giordano Bellincampi, Tomáš Netopil, Marco Angius and Rossen Milanov.
Josef Špaček gives numerous recitals in Europe (including at the Rudolfinum in Prague, the Konzerthaus in Vienna and at Schloß Elmau), Asia and the USA (among others at the Kennedy Center, Washington D.C. and La Jolla, San Diego).
April 2015 saw the Supraphon CD release of his highly praised recording of the violin concertos of Dvořák and Janáček, and of the Fantasy of Suk, with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Jiří Bělohlávek (among others “Recording of the week” of The Sunday Times, “Recording of the month and of the year” of MusicWeb International and 5* in Diapason). In 2013 Supraphon released his recording of works for violin and piano by Smetana, Janáček and Prokofiev with pianist Miroslav Sekera. In 2010 he recorded works by H.W. Ernst for Naxos. His first CD, which was released in 2006, includes a complete recording of the Sonatas for Solo Violin by Eugène Ysaÿe.
Josef Špaček plays a violin made in 1855 in the workshop of Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.
Chief Conductor and Artistic Director, Czech Philharmonic
Principal Guest Conductor, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor Laureate, BBC Symphony (London)
Renowned Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek was appointed Music Director and Artistic Director of the Czech Philharmonic in 2012, following on from his successful tenure as Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, of which he is now a Conductor Laureate. He was Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra (1977–89), Music Director of the Prague Philharmonia (1994–2004), was appointed President of the Prague Spring Festival in 2006. From 2013 to 2017, he was Principal Guest Conductor of the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
In opera, he has collaborated with the Vienna State Opera, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, the Teatro Real Madrid, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Zurich Opera, and the National Theatre in Prague. He has also conducted and recorded several opera-in-concert presentations with the BBC Symphony, to great acclaim. Confirming his preeminence as the conductor of Janacek, this past season he conducted the Czech Phil in a concert presentation of Jenůfa at the London Royal Festival Hall, as well as in full production the San Francisco Opera. This was followed by a performance of Janacek The Makropulos Case with the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms.
Under his leadership the Czech Philharmonic is enjoying unprecedented success both at home in Prague, and on extensive tours. Together they have toured in the past three seasons on three continents, including Europe, Asia and North America. Their recent residency in Vienna at the Musikverein was a great success, and has lead to similar events being planned in other world capitals. The Czech Philharmonic announced in January 2017 that their partnership with Maestro Bělohlávek is now officially extended to 2022!
In addition to his ongoing Prague seasons and touring engagements with the Czech, he continues to perform as a guest conductor with the world’s major orchestras, including recent appearances with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (including at the London Proms), New York Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony, Washington National Symphony, and Deutsches Symphony Berlin, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra and Vienna Symphony Orchestra. In the coming season, in addition to major projects with Czech Phil, he looks forward to engagements with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra Munich, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, St Petersburg Philharmonic, and more.
With the Czech Philharmonic, he will conduct a major Asian tour in Autumn 2017 with concerts in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, in addition to appearances on tour in Europe, the highlight of which will be a performance of Janáček Glagolitic Mass at the Salzburg Festival in August 2018.
Jiří Bělohlávek has recorded extensively, with recent projects with the Czech Philharmonic including the complete symphonies and concertos of Dvořák. The series with Decca continues in the coming season, when a major disc of Suk will be recorded.
In 2012 he was awarded an honorary CBE for his services to British music.
Taiwanese violinist Yu-Chien (Benny) Tseng is rapidly building an international reputation as an emerging young soloist of enormous promise praised for his “grace, poise, and blistering virtuosity.”
Following his recent German debut with the Saarbrucken Radio Orchestra, the critic warmly praised his performance of the Beethoven Violin Concerto: “Classically balanced without showing off; Sensitive, discreet nuances; Highly cultured sound; graceful and playful, relaxed elegance without attitude – Exemplary!”
In July 2015, he received the great honor of winning the top prize for violin at the XV International Tchaikovsky Violin Competition. A student of eminent pedagogues Aaron Rosand and Ida Kavafian at the Curtis Institute of Music, Tseng previously won first prize at both the Singapore International Violin Competition and the Sarasate Violin Competition in Pamplona, Spain.
Yu-Chien Tseng’s international career is already developing very well, and he has played with such orchestras as the Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Belgium, Taipei Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra of Taiwan, Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra and the Orchestre Royal de Chambre de Wallonie. At the Tchaikovsky Competition, his winning performances in the final round featured two of the violin repertoire’s most iconic concertos, by Tchaikovsky and Sibelius. In an earlier round, he received high praise for the elegance and poise in his rendition of Mozart’s final violin concerto (“Turkish”), attracting the attention of Maestro Valery Gergiev. Tseng performed Mozart’s “Turkish” Concerto at the Competition’s Moscow Gala concert with the Mariinsky Orchestra under Gergiev. At the St. Petersburg Gala, Tseng performed the Tchaikovsky concerto. He was also invited to perform under Gergiev at the maestro’s festival in Mikkeli, Finland and will perform both the Tchaikovsky and Brahms concertos with Gergiev and the Munich Philharmonic on their tour of Taiwan in November 2015.
His debut recording (2012) is an album of French violin sonatas (Franck, Ravel and Debussy) on the Fuga Libera Label.
Mr Tseng graduated from the Curtis Institute in spring 2016, but will continue advanced studies in the USA in the season ahead.
In the autumn of 2016, he will make a series of major debut orchestral appearances, including with the London Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic and Czech Philharmonic Orchestras. He will also give recitals in Asia, America and Europe.
He plays the Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu 1732 Ex “Castelbarco-Tarisio,” on loan from the Chi-Mei Culture Foundation, Taiwan.
Mr. Tseng is under the general management of Armstrong Music (Beijing, Hong Kong and London).
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