The concert will take place in Hradčany Square and is free to the public
Customer Service of Czech Philharmonic
Tel.: +420 227 059 227
We are pleased to end our season away from the Rudolfinum for a truly gigantic audience with the outdoor concert at its traditional venue, Hradčany Square. The orchestra, led by conductor Keith Lockhart, will be joined by tenor Petr Nekoranec and the unconventional trio Time for Three, combining Americana, modern pop and classical music.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Le nozze di Figaro, opera overture, K 492 (5')
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“Dala sua pace”, Don Ottavio’s aria from the 1st act of the opera Don Giovanni (4')
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
“Se all’impero, amici Dei”, aria from the 2nd act of the opera La Clemenza di Tito (5')
Romanian Folk Dances, Sz.68 BB 76 (6')
Be My Love (4')
Suite from Contact, selection: two movements (world premiere) (8')
Contact, concert for the ensemble “Time for Three” (30')
Time for Three
Charles Yang violin, vocals
Nicolas Kendall violin, vocals
Ranaan Meyer double bass, vocals
Petr Nekoranec tenor
Keith Lockhart conductor
Jitka Novotná presenter
The concert will take place in Hradčany Square and is free to the public
Customer Service of Czech Philharmonic
Tel.: +420 227 059 227
About the concert, one of America’s most eminent conductors, says: “I enthusiastically invite you to the Czech Philharmonic’s annual gift of music to the Czech people and to visitors to the capital of the Czech Republic. This year feels particularly special, with the concert’s dedication to the orchestra’s beloved leader and musical icon, maestro Jiri Belohlavek. I am so excited to be reunited with my Czech musical family, and to perform in the middle of a city which rings, forever, with the sounds of great music!”
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Charles Yang (violin, vocals), Nicolas “Nick” Kendall (violin, vocals), and Ranaan Meyer (double bass, vocals), have found a unique voice of expression to share with the world: They are Time For Three (Tf3). Bonded by an uncommon blend of their instruments fused together with their voices, the band defies convention and boundaries and stands at the busy intersection of classical music, Americana, and singer-songwriter. To experience Time For Three live is to hear the various eras, styles, and traditions of Western music fold in on themselves and emerge anew.
Time For Three has a long-standing history of working with contemporary classical composers, such as Chris Brubeck and Pulitzer Prize winners William Bolcom and Jennifer Higdon. Their most recent commission, Contact by Pulitzer Prize winner Kevin Puts, premiers with the San Francisco Symphony and The Philadelphia Orchestra in July 2022. This piece, along with Jennifer Higdon’s Concerto 4-3, was released in June 2022 on Deutsche Grammophon. The album, entitled Letters for the Future, was recorded with The Philadelphia Orchestra, conducted by Xian Zhang.
In the coming season the band will further perform at the Sun Valley Music Festival, Portland Chamber Music Festival, the Moab Music Festival, Lake George Music Festival and the Schleswig Holstein Musikfestival to name a few.
Highlights of Time for Three’s recent European engagements have been their feature on the famed “Night of the Proms” tour, sharing the stage with such artists as Chaka Khan and Ronan Keating, playing arenas throughout several European countries with stops in Antwerpen, Rotterdam, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, Köln, München, Hamburg and Bremen in 2016. They performed at London Roots Festival and at the Schleswig Holstein Musikfestival in 2019 and together with Keith Lockhart at the Czech Philharmonic in 2018. They returned to Prague in 2019 including a nationwide broadcast in Hradčany Square and performed alongside the Tonkünstler Orchestra at Musikverein in Vienna. The trio has collaborated with artists as diverse as Ben Folds, Branford Marsalis, Joshua Bell, Aoife O’Donovan, Natasha Bedingfield, and Arlo Guthrie.
Earning praise from NPR, NBC, The Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Sun-Times, the band has become renowned for their charismatic and energetic performances. Having graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and The Royal Albert Hall, their inimitable and mutable style fits equally well in an intimate club setting, like Joe’s Pub in New York, or Yoshi’s in San Francisco.
They’ve appeared on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, and won an Emmy for “Time For Three In Concert,” produced by PBS. Yet for all their accolades and diverse experiences, the irrepressible band constantly hungers for new ones. In 2020, the band partnered with cellist and composer Ben Sollee to put together the soundtrack to the new Focus Featuresʼ film Land, starring and directed by Robin Wright. The film first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 31, 2021. With a collection of new songs, the band has teamed up with GRAMMY-winning songwriter Liz Rose and GRAMMY-winning producer Femke Weidema for new recordings released through Warner Music.
In the 2022/2023 season, Petr Nekoranec appeared in October 2022 in Florence as Oronte in Handel’s Alcina, opposite Cecilia Bartoli in the title role; in November he performed along with Diana Damrau at the concert Iain Bell and Bel Canto in Prague. In March 2023, he made his debut as Pylade in Gluck’s Iphigénie en Tauride at the Opéra national de Lorraine in Nancy. He returned to the National Theatre in Brno as Tamino (Die Zauberflöte). At the National Theatre in Prague, where he is currently engaged as a soloist, he extended his repertoire, encompassing Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Tamino and Ferrando (Così fan tutte), with another two parts: Romeo (Roméo et Juliette) and Don Ottavio (Don Giovanni).
The opera highlights of the 2021/2022 season included performances of Asprando (Nicola Antonio Porpora: Carlo il Calvo) within the Bayreuth Baroque Festival; debuting as Almaviva (October 2021), Tamino (December 2021) and Ferrando (January 2022) at the National Theatre in Prague; appearing as Yurodivy (Boris Godunov) at the Staatsoper Stuttgart, Tamino at the National Theatre in Brno and Almaviva at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse. In July 2021, he and the pianist William Kelley premiered at the Bach Festival in Świdnica, Poland, the monodrama Comfort Starving by the British composer Iain Bell, with whom Petr closely collaborates.
From 2018 to 2020, Petr Nekoranec was a soloist of the Staatsoper Stuttgart, where he portrayed Almaviva (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Ramiro (La Cenerentola) and Ernesto (Don Pasquale). Between 2016 and 2018, he was the first Czech to participate in the prestigious Metropolitan Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. From 2014 to 2016, he was a member of the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and its Opera Studio, where his repertoire included the title roles in Le comte Ory and Albert Herring, the latter of which earned him the Bavarian Art Prize (2016). In January 2018, he received the Classic Prague Award in the “Talent of the Year 2017” category. In the autumn of 2019, Supraphon released his profile album French Arias (made with the Czech Philharmonic, conducted by Christopher Franklin). Since the 2021/2022 season, he has been a soloist of the National Theatre Opera in Prague.
Petr Nekoranec has garnered numerous accolades. In October 2021, he won second prize at the Vincerò World Opera Competition in Naples; in January 2017, he became overall winner of the Concurso Tenor Viñas at the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, where he also received the Plácido Domingo Award. In August 2015, he advanced to the semi-final of the Queen Sonja International Singing Competition in Oslo. In July 2014, he came first at the Ljuba Welitsch International Vocal Competition in Vienna, and in September of that year, he won second prize at the Concours International de Chant in Toulouse. When it comes to his native Czech Republic, he received second prize at the 2013 Antonín Dvořák International Vocal Competition in Karlovy Vary.
Petr Nekoranec studied at the Pardubice Conservatory, under the tutelage of Jarmila Chaloupková. He has further honed his skills with the Italian tenor and vocal coach Antonio Carangelo.
Keith Lockhart is Conductor of the Boston Pops and Artistic Director of the Brevard Music Center in North Carolina (USA).
Now in his twenty-seventh season, Keith has served as Conductor of the Boston Pops since 1995, a tenure that includes nearly two thousand performances, forty-five national tours to more than 150 cities, and four international tours. He and the Pops have made eighty television shows and participated in such high-profile sporting events as Super Bowl XXXVI, the 2008 NBA finals, the 2013 Boston Red Sox Ring Ceremony, and, most recently, Game 2 of the 2018 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers. The annual July 4 Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular draws a live audience of over half a million with millions more who watch on television or live webcast.
From 2010–2018, Keith was Principal Conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra. Highlights of his tenure include critically acclaimed North American tours, conducting annual performances at The Proms, and celebrating the orchestra’s 60th year in 2012. In June of that same year, Keith conducted the orchestra during Queen Elizabeth II’s gala Diamond Jubilee Concert, which was broadcast around the world.
Keith concluded eleven seasons as Music Director of the Utah Symphony in 2009. Keith conducted three “Salute to the Symphony” television specials broadcast regionally, one of which received an Emmy award, and, in December 2001, he conducted the orchestra and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in a national PBS broadcast of Vaughan Williams’ oratorio Hodie. He led the Utah Symphony during Opening Ceremonies of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and conducted two programs for the 2002 Olympic Arts Festival.
In addition to conducting nearly every major orchestra in North America, Lockhart has worked with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Czech Philharmonic, Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Vienna Radio Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the NHK Symphony in Tokyo, Hong Kong Philharmonic, and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. In October 2012, he made his London Philharmonic debut in Royal Albert Hall. In the opera pit, Keith has conducted productions with the Atlanta Opera, Washington Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, and Utah Opera.
Born in Poughkeepsie, NY, he began his musical studies on piano at the age of seven and holds degrees from Furman University and Carnegie Mellon University. He was the 2006 recipient of the Bob Hope Patriot Award from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and was a recipient of the 2017 Commonwealth Award, Massachusetts’ highest cultural honor.
Czech composers have written some truly wonderful operas. Dvořák’s Rusalka, Smetana’s Bartered Bride, and Janáček’s Cunning Little Vixen and Jenůfa are all part of the international repertoire, Martinů’s 20th-century operas are beginning to attract wider attention, and operas by the Classical-era composer Mysliveček are enjoying a period of revival. Surprisingly, the operas most widely associated with Prague have music by a German and texts in Italian. Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro became wildly popular here, making the composer’s reputation in the Bohemian capital. He then wrote Don Giovanni, which was premiered right here in Prague, across the river at the Estates Theatre, still used as a venue for operas and plays.
The Marriage of Figaro, one of Mozart’s most perfect creations, is perhaps the greatest comic opera ever written. Delicately balancing the usual opera buffa gags like mistaken identity and intrigue with themes of great seriousness like marital infidelity, paternal and maternal love, and forgiveness, it is beloved for the humaneness of its portrayal of ridiculous yet utterly believable characters as well as for its sublime music. The overture, with its madly scurrying string figures, characterful woodwind melodies, blazing trumpets and timpani, and a coda crescendo in the manner of Rossini, is a completely self-contained piece of music that is just as comfortable on the concert stage as in the opera house.
We now move on to Act I of the opera Don Giovanni, a much darker tale. The title character breaks into the home of Donna Anna at night. Donna Anna does not recognize him and raises the alarm. When Don Giovanni tries to escape, Donna Anna clings to him until her father, the Commendatore, arrives on the scene and bars Don Giovanni’s exit. The men fight, and Don Giovanni slays the Commendatore and flees. Later at a different location, Donna Anna hears Don Giovanni’s voice and recognizes it as belonging to her assailant. She makes her fiancé, Don Ottavio, swear vengeance against the man who tried to take her honour. After the 1787 Prague production, Mozart added some new music for Vienna performances in the spring of 1788. One newly composed number was Ottavio’s aria “Dalla sua pace”, which he sings alone on stage after Donna Anna has identified the villain. The words could not be simpler: “My peace of mind depends upon hers. Whatever pleases her gives me life, what displeases her brings me death. If she sighs, I sigh also. Her anger is mine, her mourning is mine, and I cannot be well if she is not.” The sublimely beautiful aria is almost always included in today’s productions of the opera. It begins with the tenor’s lyrical melody floating above a simple, radiant accompaniment. After a more agitated middle section, the lyrical music returns with wider leaps in the vocal line. The aria is not obviously virtuosic, but it demands perfection of technique and purity of tone.
La clemenza di Tito, Mozart’s last opera, was also premiered at Prague’s Estates Theatre just months before the composer’s death to celebrate the coronation of Emperor Leopold II as King of Bohemia. The work was very popular in its day, but the whole opera seria genre had been dismissed as old fashioned by the mid-19th century. Today, La clemenza di Tito is admired for the beauty of its music and is enjoying something of a resurgence, but it still appears on stage far less often the Mozart’s great Italian comic operas and German Singspiels. The plot is complicated, but the premise is simple. Titus Caesar Vespasianus is to choose an empress, but jealousy and intrigues lead to an attempted assassination. He survives, and rather than executing the conspirators (including the woman he had chosen as his empress), he decides to give them clemency.
Tito’s aria “Se allʼimpero amici dei” consists of technically brilliant outer sections (Allegro, 4/4) surrounding a lyrical interlude (Andantino, 3/4). The tenor singing the role of Tito is given every opportunity to exhibit not only his virtuosity, but also a wide range of emotions. Faced with executing a friend who has conspired against him, he sings: “If I must be hard of heart to rule, friendly gods, either take away my empire or change my heart. If love does not assure the loyalty of my realm, I am not interested in fidelity born of fear.” Machiavelli might have advised Tito to do otherwise, but this opera was written for the kind of occasion when the emperor wished to promote feelings of good will.
Now we move ahead in time to a period when feelings of good will were no longer a priority for the rulers of central Europe. The Hungarian composer Béla Bartók wrote his Romanian Folk Dances for piano solo in 1915. Then, much of what is now Romania (including Bartók’ birthplace) belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bartók had been travelling around rural areas of the empire’s Slovak, Hungarian, and Romanian provinces to collect folk music. The First World War brought an end to his expeditions, so he turned his energy to creating new works that reflect the influence of his folk music discoveries.
Bartók made several arrangements of the Romanian Folk Dances. The orchestral version on today’s programme is popular with youth orchestras and amateur groups. Although technically simple, the Romanian Folk Dances are brimming with excitement and passion and are every bit as characteristic of their composer as are the modernist works he was writing at about the same time. There are six movements, each lasting under a minute.
The Italian-American tenor Mario Lanza was born in Philadelphia in 1921. He died tragically young in 1959, but he still won enormous fame and recognition as a popular and classical artist. He performed in operas on stage early in his career, but it was Hollywood that made his name a household word. He sang the popular song Be My Love with lyrics by Sammy Cahn and music by Nicholas Brodszky in the 1950 cinematic musical The Toast of New Orleans. The song was nominated for an Academy Award, and when RCA Records released an audio recording sung by Lanza, it sold over two million copies. Be My Love became the theme song of the radio programme The Mario Lanza Show.
The American composer and conductor Alan Silvestri (*1950) wrote the score for Robert Zemeckis’s 1997 film Contact, a science-fiction story based on a novel by the American scientist and television celebrity Carl Sagan. The music was nominated for several prizes and won the ASCAP Film and Television Music Award. Silvestri’s music reflects the sense of wonder and mystery at the heart of Sagan’s story, which centres around the relationship between a father and a daughter. Silvestri employed various electronic instruments in addition to an orchestra. According to the composer: “The electronics really were used as another section of the orchestra, to create certain unusual sounds, textures, and moods, but they never carried any scenes in the film. For a film like this, the traditional orchestra is irreplaceable in achieving the emotional impact of the music.” Keith Lockhart asked Silvestri to create a Contact concert suite especially for this Czech Philharmonic concert, where it will be heard in its world premiere alongside a new work by composer Kevin Putz that also was inspired by the Zemeckis film.
Kevin Puts (*1972), also from the USA, wrote his triple concerto Contact for the string trio Time for Three (TF3), which they premiered in 2022 with the Florida Orchestra and the conductor Daniel Black. “We were trying to tell a kind of story, and the idea of contact became something that we thought was part of this piece,” says the composer. “It could be like trying to make contact with alien civilizations that are millions of light years away from Earth, or it could be about reaching across cultural divides, or it could be about the nature of contact that has been so disrupted by the pandemic. I don’t think a story is necessary for people listening to music, but we didn’t want to call it Triple Concerto, which was, in fact, my original title.”