Concert is a part of the Bohuslav Martinů Days Festival.
Te Deum, Op. 103
The Resurrection of Hope and Light, Cantata for Choir and Orchestra (world premiere)
Violin Concerto No. 1, H 232
A Christmast Cantata, for baritone, children’s choir, mixed choir, organ, and orchestra
Frank Peter Zimmermann
Prague Philharmonic Choir
Severáček, Liberec Children’s Choir
“The Czech Philharmonic is very close to my heart artistically and personally. With the leading orchestra of our country, I have repeatedly experienced moments of beauty and deep feeling on the podium. I regard it as an honor that I may continue to be a part of the innermost musical family of the Czech Philharmonic, now alongside the new Chief Conductor, Semyon Bychkov, and together with my wonderful colleague Tomáš Netopil. I am looking forward to our joint projects, whether they will involve performing the classics from this country and around the world or excursions into the realm of lesser-known repertoire and contemporary music. It is my wish that together, our whole institution might continue successfully and harmoniously along the artistic path begun by Jiří Bělohlávek.“
Jakub Hrůša made his debut with the Czech Philharmonic in 2004 when he stepped in at short notice to conduct a programme of Janáček, Martinů and Dvořák. He had just graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague where Jiří Bělohlávek was amongst his teachers. Hrůša has subsequently conducted the Orchestra in forty concerts at home and on tour and, at the start of the 2015/16 season was appointed Permanent Guest Conductor. This season he conducts the opening concerts of the Czech Philharmonic season and has been named Principal Guest Conductor with effect from the 2018/19 season.
A regular guest with leading orchestras in both Europe and the USA, Jakub Hrůša is also Chief Conductor of Bamberg Symphony, Principal Guest Conductor of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra (TMSO), and Principal Guest Conductor of the Philharmonia Orchestra. He served as Music Director and Chief Conductor of PKF – Prague Philharmonia from 2009 to 2015. Recent orchestral highlights include debuts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale dei Santa Cecilia, Mahler Chamber Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony and Chicago Symphony Orchestras, as well as return engagements with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the Cleveland Orchestra and Los Angeles Philharmonic. This season he will make his debuts with the San Francisco Symphony and Munich Philharmonic Orchestras.
Equally at home in operatic repertoire, Hrůša is a regular guest of the National Theatre in Prague and Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and between 2010 and 2012 he was Music Director of Glyndebourne on Tour. For Glyndebourne Festival, he has conducted Janáček‘s The Cunning Little Vixen, Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Turn of the Screw, Bizet’s Carmen, Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Puccini’s La bohème. Elsewhere he has conducted Janáček’s The Makropulos Affair (Wiener Staatsoper), Jenůfa (Finnish National Opera), and Dvořák’s Rusalka (Opéra national de Paris), alongside works by Puccini (Il trittico for Oper Frankfurt) and Mussorgsky (Boris Godunov for Royal Danish Opera). During the 2017/18 season, he returns to Opéra national de Paris for Lehár’s The Merry Widow, makes his debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden with Bizet’s Carmen, and conducts a new production of Samuel Barber’s Vanessa for Glyndebourne Festival.
In the studio, Jakub Hrůša has recorded the Tchaikovsky and Bruch Violin Concertos with the Czech Philharmonic and Nicola Benedetti for Universal; live recordings for Octavia Records of works by Berlioz, Strauss and Suk with the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra; three discs for Pentatone with PKF-Prague Philharmonia; and six discs of Czech music for Supraphon. Marking the start of his tenure as Chief Conductor of the Bamberg Symphony, Hrůša and the Orchestra recorded Smetana’s Má vlast, the first disc in a new partnership with Tudor.
In recognition of his championing of Janáček’s music abroad, Jakub Hrůša was awarded the inaugural Sir Charles Mackerras Prize. He is also President of the International Martinů Circle.
Svatopluk Sem studied voice under the guidance of D. Volfová at the Conservatory in České Budějovice. He became a soloist in the South Bohemian Theatre in České Budějovice after finishing his studies. Here he portrayed many main characters such as Figaro (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Germonte (La traviata), Valentin (Faust), Papageno (Die Zauberflöte), Guglielmo (Cosí fan tutte) or Belcore (L´elisir d´amore).
He regularly performs in many opera houses in the Czech Republic such as the National Theatre in Prague, The State Opera in Prague, the J. K. Tyl Theatre in Pilsen, the South Bohemian Theatre in České Budějovice, the National Theatre Brno or the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava. His repertoire includes several dozen roles of different nature.
Svatopluk Sem has been performing in productions of various directors – O. Havelka, J. Heřman, M. Forman, The Theatre Group SKUTR (M. Kukučka & L. Trpišovský) and cooperated with many famous conductors. Among others we can name G. Albrecht, A. Allemandi, J. Bělohlávek, T. Brauner, E. Dovico, P. Feranec, E. Fiore, H. M. Förster, J. Hrůša, R. Jindra, J. Keenen, O. Lenárd, T. Netopil, L. Pešek, Mario De Rose or D. Savic.
He has made his appearance not only in the Czech Republic but also abroad. Japan, Denmark, South Korea, Austria, Spain, Germany, Russia, Italy or England are examples of countries where we could see Svatopluk Sem on stage. He cooperates with orchestras such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, PKF – Prague Philharmonia etc.
He cooperated with London BBC Orchestra under the baton of J. Bělohlávek on a recording of Smetana's Bartered Bride for the label Harmonia Mundi. He recorded a document "Rolando meets Don Giovanni" for BBC, where he performed together with Rolando Villazón in the role of Don Giovanni.
He is a frequent guest of prestigious international music festivals such as the Dvořákova Praha International Music Festival, Opern Air Gars am Kampf in Austria, The Prague Spring International Music Festival, International Opera Festival Smetana’s Litomyšl or the IMF Český Krumlov.
In his field he has received three times the prestigious Karel Roden Award.
Lukáš Vasilek, principal conductor of the Prague Philharmonic Choir (PPC), studied conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and musicology at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. For eleven seasons from 1998 he was conductor of the Foerster Female Chamber Choir, and between 2005 and 2007 was also second choirmaster of the Prague National Theatre´s opera chorus.
He took up his post at the helm of the PPC in 2007. Apart from preparing and conducting the choir´s a cappella concert productions, he has been building up the PPC´s repertoire set for participation in large-scale cantata, oratorio and opera projects, working with leading international conductors (Barenboim, Bělohlávek, Eschenbach, Honeck, Hrůša, Jordan, Luisi, Mehta, Noseda or Rattle, among others) and orchestras (including the Berliner Philharmoniker, Czech Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden or Wiener Symphoniker). Since 2010 the PPC under Vasilek´s direction has guest appeared regularly at the opera festival in Bregenz, Austria.
Lukáš Vasilek is signed under numerous recordings made by the PPC for various major labels, including Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical and Supraphon. In 2016 the last mentioned of these issued an album of Bohuslav Martinů´s cantatas which was nominated for the BBC Music Magazine´s annual award in the choral category, among other plaudits.
In 2010 Lukáš Vasilek formed the Martinů Voices vocal ensemble whose repertoire he has focused primarily on 20th- and 21st-century choral music. He is likewise occasionally active as an orchestra conductor.
The Prague Philharmonic Choir (PPC) is a leading European vocal ensemble, and as one of the Czech Republic´s foremost artistic institutions operates under the trusteeship of the Czech Ministry of Culture. In the course of the choir´s long history since its foundation in 1935, it has been directed by a succession of some of the most distinguished Czech choirmasters (including among others Jan Kühn, Josef Veselka and Pavel Kühn). Since 2007 its principal choirmaster has been Lukáš Vasilek.
The PPC´s repertoire is centered primarily around oratorio and cantata works. In their presentation, the choir has worked with eminent international orchestras (e.g. the Czech Philharmonic, Berliner Philharmoniker, Israel Philharmonic, St Petersburg Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden or Wiener Symphoniker, among others), and conductors (including Daniel Barenboim, Jiří Bělohlávek, Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Manfred Honeck, Jakub Hrůša, Tomáš Netopil, Gianandrea Noseda, Philippe Jordan, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta or Sir Simon Rattle). Beyond its standard choral repertoire, the PPC is likewise active in the domain of opera, working regularly with the National Theatre in Prague, and since 2010 holding the status of choir in residence at the opera festival of Bregenz, Austria.
Apart from these commitments, the PPC engages in a number of its own projects. Since 2011 it has organized its own choral concert series in Prague, with a programme focused notably on presentations of less well known choral works, either a cappella or with chamber-scale instrumental accompaniment. The PPC has taken some of these choral projects abroad (including among other occasions its tours in the USA and Mexico in 2014, and in Russia in 2018). The choir regards as an inseparable part of its activity educational endeavours targeting the young generations. In this context, it has been involved in organizing a Choral Academy for students of singing, a project aimed at enabling young artists to acquire practical skills through work with a professional vocal ensemble; and with focus on young children, running a series of educational concerts and a programme of on-the-spot singing workshops in schools.
The PPC has to its credit an extensive discography, with many titles released by major international labels (e.g., Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical and Supraphon). In recent years the choir has taken part in several unique recording projects, two of them in association with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra. The first of these, a recording of Antonín Dvořák´s Stabat Mater (Decca, 2017), with Jiří Bělohlávek conducting, received the prestigious Diapason d´or de l´année award for the year´s best album in the sacred music category. The second, a recording of Bohuslav Martinů´s The Epic of Gilgamesh (Supraphon, 2017), under the baton of Manfred Honeck, won several awards in the United Kingdom, plus another Diapason d´or. The album featuring Bohuslav Martinů´s Kytice (Supraphon, 2017), on which the PPC collaborated with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra conducted by Tomáš Netopil, was cited as recording of the month by the prestigious British web magazine MusicWeb International. Its recording of Bohuslav Martinů´s chamber cantatas (Supraphon, 2016) scored top rankings in the influential British magazines, Gramophone (Editor´s Choice) and BBC Music Magazine (Choral & Song Choice), in the latter along with nomination for its annual award in the choral music category.
The PPC´s many commitments in the 2018/2019 season include among others concert appearances at the Dvořák Prague, Beethovenfest Bonn and Prague Spring festivals, a tour in Belgium, a performance in New York´s Carnegie Hall (Mahler´s Symphony No. 2, with the Czech Philharmonic and its principal conductor, Semyon Bychkov; this will be followed up by the recording of the same symphony for Decca Classics), and further work with the Israel Philharmonic, this time under the baton of Manfred Honeck. The PPC´s 2018/2019 concert season will be rounded off by a concert at the Smetana Litomyšl Festival, where it will perform with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow conducted by Vladimir Fedoseyev Mussorgsky´s opera Boris Godunov; and finally, appearances, for the tenth time already, at the opera festival of Bregenz, Austria.
Kateřina Kněžíková, born 1982 in Bohumín, graduated from Prague Conservatory in 2007 and in 2010 she completed her university degree at Music and Dance Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague as a student of Jiřina Přívratská. She has been the prize-winner of numerous competitions, for example Antonín Dvořák’s International Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary.
In 2005, Kateřina Kněžíková made her debut in the National Theatre in Prague in the role of Zerlina and she has been a permanent cast member thereof since 2006. This is where her operatic engagements over recent years include roles such as Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Serpetta (La Finta giardiniera), Servilia (La Clemenza di Tito), Blonde (Entführung aus dem Serail), Despina (Cosí fan tutte), Ilja (Idomeneo), Almirena (Rinaldo), Adina (Elisir d’amore), Barče (Hubička), Terinka (Jakobín), Nannetta (Falstaff), Aristea (L’Olimpiade) and many others.
She made her guest appearance in F. X. Šalda Theatre Liberec, J. K. Tyl Theatre in Pilsen, National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava, Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, Theatre de Caen, Opéra Royal de Versailles, Theatre Royal de La Monnaie in Brussels and Opéra de Dijon.
She has been performing in productions of various directors - D. Beneš, Karl-Ernst and Ursel Herrmann, J. Heřman, L. Keprtová, L. Moaty, J. Nekvasil, V. Věžník etc.
Her professional concert and operatic engagements have involved work with conductors such as S. Baudo, J. Bělohlávek, A. Fisch, J. Gaffigan, M. Honeck, H. M. Förster, J. Hrůša, R. Jindra, V. Luks, E. Mazzola, J. Nelson, T. Netopil and outstanding orchestras including BBC Symphony orchestra, Camerata Salzburg, Collegium 1704, Czech Philharmonic, Hessischer Rundfunk Frankfurt am Main, PKF - Prague Philharmonia, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and many others.
She regularly makes her appearance at prestigious international festivals in the Czech Republic and abroad (Dvořákova Praha International Music Festival, International Music Festival Janáček Máj, Prague Spring International Music Festival, International Opera Festival Smetana’s Litomyšl, St. Venceslav Music Festival, Strings of Autumn, Festival de La Chaise-Dieu, Festival Rencontres Musicales de Vétzelay, Festival Baroque de Pontoise, Music Bridge Prague – Dresden, Uckermärkische Musikwochen, Tage Alte Musik Regensburg etc.).
She made recordings for Czech Radio, television channel MEZZO and Belgian radio station RTFB International. She recorded Bartered Bride by Bedřich Smetana for HARMONIA MUNDI and her recording of Dove é amore é gelosia produced for OPUS ARTE DVD was awarded “Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik“.
Frank Peter Zimmermann is widely regarded as one of the foremost violinists of his generation. Praised for his selfless musicality, his brilliance and keen intelligence he has been performing with all major orchestras in the world for well over three decades, collaborating on these occasions with the world’s most renowned conductors. His many concert engagements take him to all important concert venues and international music festivals in Europe, the United States, Japan, South America and Australia.
Frank Peter Zimmermann gives numerous concerts, which are received with great critical acclaim from press and public alike. His regular recital partners are pianists Enrico Pace, Emanuel Ax, Christian Zacharias and Piotr Anderzewski.
Frank Peter Zimmermann has given world premieres of three violin concertos: Matthias Pintscher’s En Sourdine with the Berliner Philharmoniker and Peter Eötvös (2003), Brett Dean’s The Lost Art of Letter Writing with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra conducted by the composer himself (2007) and Augusta Read Thomas’s Juggler in Paradise with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and Andrey Boreyko (2009).
He received a number of prizes and honors including the Premio del Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena (1990), the Rheinischer Kulturpreis (1994), the Musikpreis of the city of Duisburg (2002), the Bundesverdienstkreuz 1. Klasse (2008) and the Paul-Hindemith-Preis der Stadt Hanau (2010).
His impressive discography of award-winning recordings for EMI Classics, Sony Classical, BIS, Ondine, Teldec Classics and ECM Records ranges from Bach to Ligeti and also comprises many works from the recital repertoire. In 2014 his second recording of Dvořák’s Violin Concerto was released by Decca as part of Dvořák complete symphonies and concertos with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek. In February 2015 Hänssler Classic released his new recording of Mozart’s Violin Concertos Nos. 1, 3 and 4 with the Kammerorchester des Symphonieorchesters des Bayerischen Rundfunks.
Born in 1965 in Duisburg, Germany, he started playing the violin when he was 5 years old, giving his first concert with orchestra at the age of 10. He studied with Valery Gradov, Saschko Gawriloff and Herman Krebbers. He plays on the “Général Dupont, Grumiaux” Stradivari (1727) lent to him by Mr Yu.
The hymn Te Deum laudamus (God, we praise You) was written at the turn of the fourth and fifth centuries by Nicetas, bishop of Remesiana (today Bela Palanka in Serbia). The text has often been set to music and proved especially suited for those occasions when it was fitting to thank God for extraordinary acts of grace. It was this universally intelligible subtext of thanksgiving that led Antonín Dvořák to choose the words of this prayer for the cantata he was commissioned to write for the four-hundredth anniversary in 1892 of America’s discovery. Its composition falls into a period when the composer was preparing for his sojourn in the United States: the wealthy patron of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City, Jeanette Thurber, planned to introduce her Czech professor’s work at the celebrations. Dvořák divided the text of the prayer into four movements, constructed essentially on a symphonic plan.
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