the concert will finish at 10 p.m.
Apart from Ludwig van Beethoven, the focus of this season will be on the work of one of the Czech composers, Antonín Dvořák. Although in his output no compositions are as directly inspired by politics as in Beethoven’s, talking about Dvořák in the context of a relationship between music and society definitely makes sense. Particularly if one would like to follow the musical tradition of the Czech people. It was, indeed, Dvořák, who having found inspiration in folklore, transformed the national sentiments into symphonic music. No less interesting are Dvořák’s sacral works. His Requiem was a commissioned piece, not a reaction to a particular tragedy; its importance lies in the fact that Dvořák in his Mass for the Dead reflects on the issues of human existence, faith, and the meaning of life. Together with the Prague Philharmonic Choir, we will present this work under the baton of a frequent guest of the PKF, maestro Leoš Svárovský. The quartet of soloists will be of Czech-Slovak format: the sought-after Czech tenor Aleš Briscein and singer Jana Sýkorová will meet on the stage the Slovak singers Eva Hornyáková and Josef Benci.
Leoš Svárovský — conductor
Leoš Svárovský graduated from the Academy of Music in Prague, as a pupil of the legendary Václav Neumann. He began his career at the National Theatre in Prague as Assistant Conductor to Zdeněk Košler. In 1991 Herbert von Karajan invited him to collaborate with George Solti, Claudio Abbado, and the Vienna Philhamonic Orchestra at the Salzburg Music Festival. Later he became Chief Conductor of leading Czech and Slovakian orchestras (Chamber Opera Prague, Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava, State Philharmonic Brno, Chamber Philharmonic Pardubice, and State Opera Prague.). As a guest conductor he has been invited to many foreign orchestras, including Staatskapelle Dresden, Beethoven Orchester Bonn, Stuttgarter Philharmoniker, Bach Collegium München, Residentie Orkest den Haag, Shanghai Radio Symphony Orchestra and Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. Since the spring of 2014 he has been Chief Conductor of Aichi Central Symphony Orchestra Nagoya. During his career he has collaborated with a number of distinguished soloists (Josef Suk, Ivan Ženatý, Giovanni Bellucci, Danielle de Niese, Sumo Jo, and Dai Miyata) not only in Europe, but also in the USA, Canada, South America, Japan, and South Korea. He has made more than twenty-four CDs for Panton, Supraphon, WEA, New Classic, and other labels. Since 2000 he has been teaching at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.
Eva Hornyáková — soprano
Eva Hornyáková, soprano, native from Levoča, Slovakia studied at the Košice Conservatoire and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. She also attended master classes with Petr Dvorský and Zlatice Livorová and in 2006 made her debut at the Opera Stage of the Slovak National Theatre as Mimi in Puccini’s La bohème. In the same year she reached the semi-finals of Competizione dell' Opera in Dresden and three years later was a semi-finalist in the international Maria Callas Grand Prix in Athens. She sang the role of Mimi in the Spanish city of La Coruña, at the Staatstheater Braunschweig in Germany, with the Slovak National Opera at the opera festival Pafos Aphrodite in Cyprus (2010) and in the autumn of 2010 as part of an international production in Japan. She attracted the attention of both the general public and the professionals in her role of Mařenka in Smetana’s Bartered Bride on the stage of the Slovak National Theatre, as well as at the open-air festival in the Austrian Gars am Kamp, where she also took on the role of Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen. As a concert singer she has appeared in the renowned Musikverein in Vienna and in the Concertgebouw Hall in Amsterdam. Eva collaborates with many distinguished conductors and singers (Serge Baudo, Ondrej Lenárd, Libor Pešek, Jakub Hrůša, Leoš Svárovský, bass Paata Burchuladze, tenor José Cura and Adam Plachetka.
Jana Sýkorová — alto
The State Opera Prague (since 1999) and the National Theatre in Prague soloist (since 2012) Jana Sýkorová, is, according to a French critic on the website Forum Opera ‘one of today’s most interesting Carmens’, a role she has portrayed during her career in eight productions. Among her other signature roles are Verdi’s Azucena (Il Trovatore), Ulrica (Un ballo in maschera), Suzuki (Madam Butterfly) Fenena (Nabucco) and Maddalena (Rigoletto) and Dvořák’s Kate (The Devil and Kate) and Ježibaba (Rusalka) and Smetana’s Panna Róza (The Secret). Her appearance in the French premiere of the opera Joseph Merrick the Elephant Man in 2002 in Nice also attracted the attention of critics; in 2007 she made her debut at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, and returned there a year later. She has twice made guest appearances at a festival in Wels, Austria and in opera houses in Berlin, Dijon and Helsinki. She is the winner of the Antonín Dvořák International Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary (1997). In 1998 she received the prestigious European prize for young artists the ‘Förderpreis für junge Künstler’. The CD recordings of Dvořák’s opera The Stubborn Lovers with Jiří Bělohlávek and Dvořák’s Requiem with Petr Fiala, stand out from her catalogue of recordings, and were awarded the Tokusen prize by Japanese critics.
Aleš Briscein — tenor
Aleš Briscein studied at the Prague Conservatoire (clarinet, saxophone and opera singing) and at the University of West Bohemia in Pilsen. In 1995 he began singing at the State Opera in Prague, where he in a short time learned several roles of both lyrical and character tenor type (Count Almaviva in Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, Alfredo in Verdi’s La traviata). As a free-lance artist he is a permanent guest at the National Theatre in Prague (Eugen Onegin, La Traviata, Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, The Abduction from the Searaglio, Jenůfa, The Bartered Bride, Rusalka, Norma). In 1999 on tour in Japan he introduced himself in the role of Tamino (The Magic Flute) and in 2000 performed the role of Kudrjáš in Janáček’s Káťa Kabanová together with the Tokyo Philharmonic, who asked him also to sing in Janáček’s opera From the House of the Dead (2003). In 2004 he started collaborating with the Opéra National in Paris. His art of singing has brought him to podia of many opera houses and concert halls in Vienna, London, Munich, Frankfurt, Berlin, Madrid, Valencia, Vancouver, Mexico City, and Boston. He has twice been awarded the Thalia Award, namely for his portrayal of Romeo in Gounod’s opera Romeo and Juliet (2012) and his role of Jaroměr in Zdeněk Fibich’s The Fall of Arkun (2014).
Jozef Benci — bass
The Slovak bass Jozef Benci studied at the Bratislava Conservatoire, and graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava and Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno. During his studies he took part in several singing competitions, and in 1997 he won 3rd prize at the Calaver Carl Vender International Competition in Bratislava. Two years later he took second place in the Antonín Dvořák International Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary and in 2001 he won the prestigious George Enescu International Competition in Bucharest. He began his career as a guest in the Chamber Opera of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava (1998), from 2002 he was a soloist at the State Opera in Banská Bystrica and in 2007 he became a soloist of the Opera of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava. He made his name with a bravura portrayal of the famous bass roles such as Colline (La bohème), Vodník (Rusalka), Zaccaria (Nabucco), Mephisto (Faust), Sarastro (The Magic Flute) and Ferrando (Il Trovatore). In 2011 he performed at the Barbican Hall in a concert performance of The Bartered Bride with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Jiří Bělohlávek. For the BBC he recorded in 2012 a radio recording of Dvořák’s opera Jakobín. He is a sought-after concert singer of both chamber and oratorio repertoire (Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, and China). Since 2013 he has been making regular guest appearances at the Budapest National Opera.
Prague Philharmonic Choir
The Prague Philharmonic Choir is a leading European ensemble. Its main domain is oratorio and cantata repertoire, which it performs in collaboration with leading world orchestras (Czech, Berlin, Israeli and St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestras, Staatskapelle Dresden and Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra) and conductors (Daniel Barenboim, Semjon Byčkov, Christoph Eschenbach, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta, and Sir Simon Rattle). As the resident choir of the operatic Bregenz Festival in Austria, the choir does not shy away from opera. Since 2011 the PPC organizes their own series of choral concerts in Prague, with programmes focused on challenging and less known works of choral repertoire, ‘a cappella’ or with chamber instrumental accompaniment, and also performs these programmes abroad (USA, Mexico, Russia). Music education for young people is among other activities the choir is also involved in (such as the Academy of choral singing, educative concerts and singing workshops). For its numerous recordings the choir has received a number of prestigious awards (Diapason d’Or de l’Annèe, Diapason d’Or, Gramophone). In the 2019/2020 season the PPC plans include concerts at the festivals Dvořák Prague, and Prague Spring, a performance at the new hall in Zarjadje, and its debut appearance at the Easter Festival in Salzburg with the Staatskapelle Dresden and Christian Thielemann. The choir has been led since 2007 by the chief choirmaster Lukáš Vasilek.
Lukáš Vasilek — choir master
Lukáš Vasilek gained his first experiences with choral singing as a member of the boys’ choir Boni Pueri in Hradec Králové. Since 1998 he resides in Prague where he studied not only conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts, but also musicology at Charles University. In the years 1998-2009 he was the choirmaster of Foerster Chamber Choral Association, and between 2005-2007 he was the second choirmaster of the National Theatre Chorus. Since 2007 he has been the principal choirmaster of the Prague Philharmonic Choir and whilst at the helm of this ensemble he collaborated with significant orchestras and conductors on a major cantata, oratorio, and opera projects. In 2010 he founded the vocal ensemble Martinů Voices, which focuses on chamber choral works of the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries. Apart from their own concerts, they join forces with, for example, the Tallis Scholars (2016) and the band Bang on a Can All-Stars (2017), and regularly make recordings. Of particular interest are the unique recordings of Jan Novák and Bohuslav Martinů chamber choral music, the latter composer being the subject of Vasílek’s systematic attention in the past few years. Apart from his engagements as choirmaster, he also dedicates himself to orchestral conducting (Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra, South Bohemian Chamber Philharmonic and Pilsen Philharmonic).