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Smetana’s Litomyšl National Festival • Ceremonial Opening Concert


At the opening concert of the 65th anniversary edition of the Smetana Litomyšl Festival, the Czech Philharmonic will perform together with pianist Kirill Gerstein, winner of the prestigious Gilmore Artist Award. Listeners can look forward to three compositions by renowned composers - Bedřich Smetana, Sergei Rachmaninov and Antonín Dvořák.

Programme

Bedřich Smetana
Scherzo from Triumphal Symphony in E Major, Op. 6

Sergej Rachmaninov
Piano Concerto in C minor No. 2, Op. 18

Antonín Dvořák
Slavonic Rhapsodies, Op. 45

Performers

Kirill Gerstein piano

Tomáš Netopil conductor

Czech Philharmonic

Photo illustrating the event Smetana’s Litomyšl National Festival • Ceremonial Opening Concert

Litomyšl — Festival Hall

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Price from 990 to 1490 CZK Tickets and contact information

Reservation of seats for current subscribers:
until 3 June 2024, 20.00
Sale of individual tickets for subscription concerts:
from 10 June 2024, 10.00
Ticket sales for all public dress rehearsals:
from 11 September 2024, 10.00

Customer Service of Czech Philharmonic

Tel.: +420 227 059 227
E-mail: info@czechphilharmonic.cz

Customer service is available on weekdays from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.

 

Performers

Kirill Gerstein  piano, artistic director

Kirill Gerstein

Born in the territory of the former Soviet Union, the pianist Kirill Gerstein studied in the USA, Spain, and Hungary, and at present he lives in Berlin. Today an American citizen, he represents something like an intersection of the interpretive traditions that he absorbed while maturing as a pianist, taking inspiration from them to create a musical language of his own. Besides his geographical mobility, he also moves freely between historical periods: his repertoire includes works of the traditional canon and contemporary music. He also grew up with jazz.

It was jazz that took him to the Berklee College of Music as the youngest student in the school’s history at 14 years of age. Acting as an intermediary was the jazz legend Gary Burton, whom Gerstein had met in Saint Petersburg. In Boston, he studied jazz and classical piano for several years before deciding ultimately for the career of a classical pianist and heading for New York’s Manhattan School of Music. After graduating, he further broadened his interpretive horizons under Dmitri Bashkirov at the Escuela Superior de Musica Reina Sofia in Madrid and under Ferenc Rados in Budapest. At that time, he began appearing on concert stages, helped by winning the famed Arthur Rubinstein International Piano Competition in Tel Aviv. 

He built up the reputation of a world-class pianist known for advanced technique, intelligent interpretation, and careful reading of scores. As a soloist, he appears with the world’s top ensembles, in the 2023/24 season performing for example with the orchestras of the Leipzig Gewandhaus and the Zurich Tonhalle, the Orchestre national de France, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala and giving recitals at such venues as Carnegie Hall and Vienna’s Konzerthaus. 

He is known for interpreting contemporary music, having even used the money from the Gilmore Artist Award to commission new works. He is associated in particular with the composer Thomas Adès, who composed his Piano Concerto for Gerstein, whose recording of the work with the Boston Symphony Orchestra received a 2020 Grammy nomination and won a Gramophone Award. In 2021 they together received the International Classical Music Award for Gerstein’s recording of Adès’s solo piano compositions and his music for two pianos, which they recorded together.

Another piano concerto dedicated to Gerstein was written by Thomas Larcher. That is the work that Gerstein was to have performed in Prague with the Czech Philharmonic in 2021, but because of measures to the limit the spread of the Coronavirus, the concert was only streamed, and the programme was changed to Schumann’s Piano Concerto, which will be heard again today at the Rudolfinum. Gerstein is tied to the Czech Philharmonic by years of collaboration dating back to 2012 when the orchestra was still led by Jiří Bělohlávek, and continuing with many more visits to Prague, performances on tour in Europe and America, and a recording of Tchaikovsky’s piano concertos.

Gerstein is passing on his experience to piano students at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin and at the Kronberg Academy. Under the auspices of the latter institution, he has made a series of online seminars with the title “Kirill Gerstein invites…”, debating with such important figures from the world of music as Thomas Adès, Kaija Saariaho, and Sir Antonio Pappano.

Tomáš Netopil  conductor

Tomáš Netopil

Since the 2018/2019 season, Tomáš Netopil has been the Principal Guest Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic, with which he regularly prepares concert programmes at the Rudolfinum and on tours. The 2022/2023 season was his tenth and final as General Music Director of the Aalto Theater and Philharmonic in Essen, Germany. From the 2025/2026 season, he will take up the post of chief conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra. 

In 2018, Tomáš Netopil created the International Summer Music Academy in Kroměříž, offering students exceptional artistic instruction and the chance to meet and work with major international musicians. In the summer of 2021, in association with the Dvořákova Praha Festival, the Academy established the Dvořák Prague Youth Philharmonic with musicians from conservatories and music academies, coached by principal players of the Czech Philharmonic.

As evidenced by his engagement in Essen, Tomáš Netopil is a sought-after opera conductor. From 2008 to 2012, he was the music director of the Opera of the National Theatre in Prague. Operatic highlights beyond Essen include the Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden (La clemenza di Tito, Rusalka, The Cunning Little Vixen, La Juive, The Bartered Bride, and Busoni’s Doktor Faust), the Vienna Staatsoper (his most recent successes include Idomeneo, Der Freischütz, and a new production of Leonore), and the Netherlands Opera (Jenůfa). His concert highlights of recent seasons have included the Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich as well as engagements with the Orchestre de Paris, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, the Orchestra Sinfonica della Rai, the Orchestre National de Montpellier, and Concentus Musicus Wien.

Tomáš Netopil’s discography for Supraphon includes Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass (the first-ever recording of the original 1927 version), Dvořák’s complete cello works, Martinů’s Ariane and Double Concerto, and Smetana’s Má vlast with the Prague Symphony Orchestra. During his tenure in Essen, he has recorded Suk’s Asrael and Mahler’s Symphonies Nos. 6 and 9.

He studied violin and conducting in his native Czech Republic and at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm under the guidance of Professor Jorma Panula. In 2002 he won the inaugural Sir Georg Solti Conductors Competition at the Alte Oper Frankfurt. In his spare time, he likes to fly small planes.

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