PRSO with a new lead conductor – with new gusto
A total of five concerts will be conducted by the Chief Conductor Alexander LiebreichFoto: Petr Horník
The Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra is entering the 2018/2019 season with new artistic direction – Alexander Liebreich in the role of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director and Marek Šedivý in the position of Principal Guest Conductor. The artist-in-residence of the coming season will be the winner of the Queen Elizabeth Competition in Brussels, pianist Lukáš Vondráček, whose performance of Dvořák's demanding Piano Concerto will be one of the highpoints of the season. The concert season programme provides space for a number of excellent conductors and soloists, with the PRSO-commissioned world premiere of a new composition by Jiří Kadeřábek also to sound here.
The flagship series remains "R – When Classical is Your Passion". It comprises twelve concerts in Rudolfinum's Dvořák Hall and the visiting soloists will include sopranos Simona Šaturová, Chen Reiss, Pavla Vykopalová and Melanie Diener, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston, violinists Roman Patočka and Alina Pogostkina and oboe player Vilém Veverka.
A total of five concerts in this series will be conducted by the Chief Conductor Alexander Liebreich, among which is an evening with the subtitle "World Premiere – Written for PRSO" (4 February 2019 the premiere of Jiří Kadeřábek's composition will be performed) or the season's closing concert at which Chief Conductor Alexander Liebreich will meet with the artist-in-residence of the coming PRSO season, pianist Lukáš Vondráček (Brahms: Piano Concerto No 1 in D minor, 6 May 2019).
As the new Chief Conductor states, he is looking forward to working in Prague for several reasons: "For one thing because the members of PRSO are excellent musicians and for another because working under Czech Radio, one of the leading cultural institutions in the Czech Republic, is a matter of prestige. And lastly, I am very pleased to be connecting with the culture in which my family has roots.“
Alexander Liebreich has performed PRSO twice in the past. Their combined efforts have always been captivating and convincing. The first foreign conductor in the Czechoslovak history of the entity can truly inspire the musicians, directing and bringing them to a premium performance with concentration and purpose.
What does the orchestra's management expect from him? We asked director Jakub Čížek: "First and foremost top performances from the orchestra without compromises. I am also pleased by the mutual inspiration leading to creative dramaturgy and greater possibilities for international collaboration. For PRSO working with leading Czech and international artists is highly important. Thanks to the renown of our new principal conductor, listeners can look forward to distinctive soloists in the future.“
For the sake completeness we should add that Alexander Liebreich's first concert in the function of head conductor of PRSO will take place at the Dvořák's Prague International Music Festival with the unwritten subtitle "American Evening". Here the works of leading American composers of the 20th century will be heard – Bernstein and Barber – and alongside them the rarely performed cantata by Antonín Dvořák American Flag. The concert will be graced with the presence of Polish star pianist Krystian Zimerman (20 September 2018).
Another pianist, the aforementioned Lukáš Vondráček, will no doubt please us at another regular subscriber evening of PRSO with his performance of the exceptionally difficult Piano Concerto by Dvořák (12 November 2018, conductor Alvo Volmer). At the Rudolfinum we will also meet with conductors John Axelrod (gala opening concert 1 October 2018 with works by Bernstein and Mahler), Petr Altrichter (18 March 2019 in the compositions of Khachaturian and Tchaikovsky), twice with former Chief Conductor Ondrej Lenárd (the concert Vivat Republica! 29 October 2018 and 11 March 2019), and twice also with the Principal Guest Conductor Marek Šedivý from the 2018/2019 season: "What captivated me about PRSO and what I still enjoy is the amazing professionalism, alacrity and also sense of humour, which is highly important for me when working."
Marek Šedivý is also preparing two concerts at Studio 1 with the radio symphony players under the heading "S – PRSO Lives Here". This is the third year now of chamber music that PRSO performs as a smaller body and its members as excellent soloists. Playing this time at their "home field" are flautists Robert Heger, Dana Hegerová and Lenka Chmelová, violinists Vlastimil Kobrle and Petr Zdvihal, harpist Lydie Härtelová, trumpet players Marek Zvolánek and Jiří Houdek and trombonist Pavel Čermák. Also appearing at the conductor's stand will be Jiří Rožeň.
Rounding out the programme will be the cycle of special projects gathered under the series "N – New Horizons", which is particularly diverse and attractive this year. For the first such concert, Radůza presents her untraditional take on the exceptional story of Anita Garibaldi, wife of representative of the Italian Risorgimenta movement (3 December 2018, Forum Karlín, conductor Jan Kučera). The second concert will take us to the Rudolfinum, where a shortened concert version of Gershwin's opera Porgy & Bess will sound the best. Joining PRSO will be the Prague Philharmonic Choir, a quartet of excellent soloists and the best qualified British conductor, pianist and organist Wayne Marshall (16 February 2019). We also haven't forgotten about little listeners (or whole families), for whom the Fairytale Afternoon has been prepared with music from the films The Proud Princess, Month's Rulers and Kitty Mama, as well as Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf live, all under the baton of Jan Kučera.
What impulses, anniversaries and dramaturgical storylines accompanied the composition of the programmes for the 92nd season by dramaturge Josef Třeštík?
"The season's opening concert will commemorate one hundred years of the birth of composer and conductor Leonard Bernstein – as a composer, opening with the Chichester Psalms, and as a conductor, bringing the music of Gustav Mahler, who Bernstein loved and performed his whole life. The primary impulse was naturally the arrival of a new Chief Conductor, who is just as close to early romanticism as he is to the music of the 20th and 21st century. Conversing with him, a programme emerged combining the music of the Czech and international repertoire, well known and less performed pieces. This trait is characteristic of the whole season."
Everything would appear to be attractively compiled, and we hope the reward will be the enthusiastic applause of the audiences, an appreciative reviews by experts, the interest of radio listeners – and perhaps even further expressions of support. A new thing this season is the establishing of a PRSO Patrons' Club. How is this project conceived?
"We offer future patrons four levels determined by the amount of the donation. These correspond to the resulting advantages of membership in the club. Another new thing is separate patron tickets, which we are selling for the exclusive first row in the balcony of the Rudolfinum's Dvořák Hall. I am also overjoyed by PRSO's first corporate partner, which is the company Expobank CZ a.s.,“ Jakub Čížek explained.
To close out, let us mention at least two extraordinary projects – a joint evening between Czech Radio and Radio and Television of Slovakia for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Czechoslovak Republic. "PRSO - to the Nation" will play the works of composers Suchoň, Janáček and Dvořák on 28 October 2018 with conductor Radek Baborák.
Czech Radio has become the new general media partner of the Leoš Janáček International Music Festival and starting in 2019 PRSO will be its residential orchestra. The festival will begin 28 May 2019.
What other platforms offer contact with the radio symphony players and their music? We asked brand manager Pavlína Stoklasová:
"PRSO concerts are broadcast live by Czech Radio Vltava, and in the new season you will also hear our concerts in rerun on the station Czech Radio D-dur. We also record at least half of the concerts audiovisually and place the videos on the YouTube channel "Czech Radio Concerts". The basis for our online communication is our website, where all the information about concerts, purchase of season tickets and individual tickets and other PRSO activities can be found. We also publish current news and photographs on the social networks Facebook and Instagram. We constantly try to be closer to our listeners and thus we have increased the number of public rehearsals to 7 for the new season and for selected concerts we also offer meetings with the artists before the concert. Musicologist Eva Hazdrová-Kopecká will speak along with conductors and soloists about the authors and compositions that will be heard that evening. This meeting, entitled Come Early! will take place an hour before the concert starts at Rudolfinum.“
The sale of season tickets and individual tickets takes place in several waves. Starting 9 May resubscription will take place for existing season tickets holders and individual tickets for the N and S series will be sold along with tickets to the public rehearsals. Starting 14 May PRSO will launch the sale of season tickets for new season tickets holders. Individual tickets for the R series will be on sale starting Monday 21 May.
Aside from the partners for the whole season, Expobank CZ a.s. and Forum Karlín, and the media partners, which are Czech Radio Vltava (main media partner), vocational magazines Harmonie and Hudební rozhledy, music portal Opera Plus, Týdeník Rozhlas and the portal iRozhlas, PRSO has also received support for individual concerts. These partners include Ahmad Tea, Bohuslav Martinů Foundation, the portal Kam s dětmi and Radio Junior. The partner for transportation the instruments is the company Dachser Czech Republic a. s.