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Czech Philharmonic

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Venue Date & Time Price
Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
map
03.06.2014(Tue)
04.06.2014(Wed)
20:00
20:00
$850, $700, $550, $400, $250

 “It doesn’t get much more authentic than this: Czech music, exquisitely performed by the Czech Philharmonic and the Czech Republic’s finest conductor, Jiří Bělohlávek.”  Basingstoke Gazette

Programme

3.6.2014 (Tue)

 

Smetana  

Vltava from Má vlast (My Country)

Brahms

Piano Concerto No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 15

Dvořák

Symphony No. 6 in D, Op. 60

 

4.6.2014 (Wed)

 

Weber

Overture to Der Freischütz

Beethoven

Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37

Martinů

Symphony No. 4, H. 305

 

About the Performer

Czech Philharmonic
Chief Conductor: Jiří Bělohlávek
Piano: Paul Lewis

 

Czech Philharmonic

For over a century, the Czech Philharmonic has represented the pinnacle of Czech cultural achievement, delighting audiences across the globe with its warm, vibrant sound. Today, the orchestra is enjoying a renewed reputation as one of the most exciting ensembles on the world stage, performing with artists including Hélène Grimaud, Lang Lang, Janine Jansen, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Frank Peter Zimmermann, to name but a few. The Czech Philharmonic has also been joined by soloists Garrick Ohlsson, Frank Peter Zimmermann and Alisa Weilerstein in recording Antonín Dvořák’s complete symphonies and his three concertos, under the baton of Chief Conductor, Jiří Bělohlávek, to be released in 2014 by the Decca label.

The Czech Philharmonic has a history of working with outstanding musicians. Dvořák himself conducted the orchestra in its debut performance on 4 January 1896 at the Rudolfinum in Prague, which is still home to its Prague concerts, and is now the centre for its Orchestral Academy. The Academy is just one of numerous successful education projects through which the Czech Philharmonic engages with new audiences, from young children, to university students and adults seeking to learn more about classical music.

Other conductors in the orchestra’s history include Gustav Mahler, who conducted the Czech Philharmonic for the world première of his Symphony No. 7 in Prague, in 1908. The orchestra’s international reputation grew under the direction of Václav Talich, and under Karel Ančerl’s leadership the Czech Philharmonic embarked on its busy and varied touring schedule. Today, the orchestra performs in the world’s most prestigious concert halls, including recent and forthcoming concerts at the Philharmonie in Berlin and Suntory Hall in Tokyo, as well as, in 2014, Carnegie Hall in New York and the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, and, in 2015, three appearances at the Musikverein in Vienna.

Festival appearances include, in 2014, concerts at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh Festival. With its Chief Conductor, Jiří Bělohlávek, the Czech Philharmonic has also undertaken successful tours in Australia, Germany, Japan, Luxembourg, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

The Czech Philharmonic is privileged to welcome many distinguished guest conductors, including recent and forthcoming collaborations with, among others, Herbert Blomstedt, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph Eschenbach, Valery Gergiev, Vladimir Jurowski, and David Zinman.

The Czech Philharmonic has received numerous awards and nominations, including 10 Grands Prix du Disque de l'Académie Charles-Cros, five Grand Prix du Disque de l'Académie française, several Cannes Classical Awards, a position in Gramophone’s Top 20 Best Orchestras in the World (2008), as well as nominations for Grammy and Gramophone Awards.

In a fitting tribute to its first conductor, the Czech Philharmonic has made nine new television programmes each of which features a full performance of one of Dvořák’s Nine Symphonies. The shows will be broadcast by Czech Television in 2014, and distributed internationally by UNITEL. The orchestra is also producing a Czech Television documentary (in association with Rhombus Media) about Dvořák, Jiří Bělohlávek, and the current work of the Czech Philharmonic itself. The documentary is directed by Barbara Willis Sweete, who has worked with the Metropolitan Opera, New York, among others, on a number of prestigious films.

Further exciting projects include the launch of a competition for composers, the winner of which will have their work performed by the Czech Philharmonic, and another competition for aspiring Czech soloists, the winner of which will perform with the orchestra. In seeking to foster new talent, the Czech Philharmonic continues its journey into the future, a future which looks brighter than ever.

 

Jiří Bělohlávek

Chief Conductor

Jiří Bělohlávek was born in Prague in 1946. His love of music became apparent at an early age, encouraged by his father, a judge, who introduced his son to an array of classical music. At the age of four, Bělohlávek joined a children’s choir, and was soon taking piano lessons. Bělohlávek went on to learn the cello with Professor Karel Pravoslav Sádlo before continuing his studies at the Prague Conservatory and at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. It was during these years that Bělohlávek began conducting in earnest, receiving instruction from Robert Brock, Alois Klíma, Bohumír Liška and Josef Veselka.

In 1968, the legendary Rumanian conductor Sergiu Celibidache invited Bělohlávek to become his assistant, a collaboration which culminated in Bělohlávek winning the Czech Young Conductors’ Competition in 1970, as well as reaching the final of the prestigious Herbert von Karajan Conducting Competition in 1971. It was in 1970 that Bělohlávek began conducting the Czech Philharmonic to great acclaim; the start of his long relationship with the orchestra.

Bělohlávek was appointed Conductor of the Brno State Philharmonic Orchestra in 1972, a position he held until 1978. He then became Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, a partnership which lasted until 1989, and Permanent Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. Václav Neumann, the latter orchestra’s Chief Conductor (between 1968 and 1990) brought him to Berlin’s Komische Oper in 1979, where he debuted with Smetana’s The Secret. Bělohlávek went on to conduct Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress there in 1980.

A decade later, Bělohlávek succeeded Václav Neumann as Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic. He built upon the orchestra’s already established reputation for excellence, particularly in its interpretations of Czech music, and became part of a long line of esteemed Czech conductors to direct the orchestra: Václav Talich, Rafael Kubelík, Karel Ančerl, and his immediate predecessor Václav Neumann.

In 1994, Bělohlávek founded the Prague Philharmonia, whom he directed until 2005, when he became its Conductor Laureate. Alongside his work with this ensemble, Bělohlávek has conducted the world’s major orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, New York Philharmonic, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Philadephia Orchestra, Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden and the San Francisco Symphony, appearing at festivals including Berlin, Edinburgh, Lucerne, Montreaux, Perth, Prague, Salzburg and Tanglewood.

In 1994 Bělohlávek was named Principal Guest Conductor of the Prague National Theatre; then in 1995 he became the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s Guest Conductor, later becoming its Chief Conductor in 2006. Alongside these positions, Bělohlávek has continued his prestigious work in the world of opera, with acclaimed productions at Berlin, Covent Garden, Glyndebourne, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and many more.

In parallel with these roles, Bělohlávek has become a respected teacher of conducting. He was appointed Professor at the Prague Academy in 1997, and until 2009 was Director of the Department of Conducting. His protégés include the young Czech conductors Tomáš Hanus, Jakub Hrůša and Tomáš Netopil.

As Chairman of the Prague Spring International Music Festival,  Bělohlávek has consistently championed the music of Czech composers. His special affinity with the music of Bohuslav Martinů has been instrumental in bringing that master to the world’s attention, and Bělohlávek has also taken the more rarely-performed works of Dvořák, Janáček, Smetana and Suk and to new audiences. Furthermore, he has programmed pieces by Czech composers deserving of greater attention, including Foerster, Ostrčil, Slavický and Sommer.

Bělohlávek has an extensive discography, and, as the Naxos label noted: ‘His most outstanding recordings are those in which he leads the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, where the high calibre of orchestral execution and Bělohlávek’s deep musicianship result in performances of exceptional quality.’

In May 2012 Bělohlávek was awarded the title CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) ‘for services to music’ by the Queen Elizabeth II. In the Czech Republic he was awarded the First Grade Medal of Merit for service to the Republic.

In a much-anticipated reunion, Bělohlávek returned as Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic in 2012. The outstanding musicianship of the Czech Philharmonic under Bělohlávek’s inspiring direction makes this a truly exciting collaboration. As an internationally-acclaimed conductor, Bělohlávek directs the Czech Philharmonic on the international stage, taking the orchestra forwards in music-making which has already won great acclaim, and which is sure to do so in the future.

 

Paul Lewis

Piano

His sensitive touch on the keys enabled the listener to hear each and every note placed with thought and imagination, making a unique interpretation of each of the works.”  bachtrack.com

Paul Lewis is internationally regarded as one of the leading pianists of his generation with a busy international schedule of engagements at the world’s most prestigious venues and festivals. His numerous awards have included the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist of the Year, the South Bank Show Classical Music Award, the Diapason d’or de l’annee, two successive Edison awards, the 25th Premio Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, the "Preis Der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik", a Limelight Award in Australia, and three Gramophone awards, including Record of the Year in 2008. In 2009 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Southampton.

Lewis's complete cycles of core works by Beethoven and Schubert have earned him unanimous critical acclaim from all over the world.  His Schubert cycle came to an end in triumphant style at the close of the 12/13 season with performances in over 40 worldwide centres of the last three sonatas

Lewis works regularly with many of the world's great orchestras such as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Los Angelos Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic,  Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, NHK Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Czech Philharmonic, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, in collaboration with such conductors as Sir Colin Davis, Bernard Haitink, Christoph von Dohnanyi, Sir Mark Elder, Sir Charles Mackerras, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Daniel Harding, Andris Nelsons, Paavo Järvi, Jiri Belohlavek, Pablo Heras-Casado, and Stephane Deneve.

His recital career takes him to venues such as London's Royal Festival Hall, Carnegie and Alice Tully Hall New York, Musikverein and the Konzerthaus in Vienna, Philharmonie and Konzerthaus in Berlin, Toppan Hall and Oji Hall Tokyo, Orchestra Hall Chicago, Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Tonhalle Zurich, Festspielhaus Baden Baden, Palau de Musica Barcelona, and the Sydney Opera House.

Lewis is a frequent guest at the many of the world's most prestigious festivals, including Lucerne, Mostly Mozart in New York, Tanglewood, Schubertiade, Salzburg, Edinburgh, La Roque d’Antheron, Rheingau, Klavier Festival Ruhr, and London’s BBC Proms where in 2010 he became the first pianist to perform a complete Beethoven piano concerto cycle in one season.

His multi award winning discography for Harmonia Mundi includes the complete Beethoven piano sonatas, concertos, and the Diabelli Variations, Liszt’s Sonata in B Minor and other works, all the major piano works from the last six years of Schubert's life, and the three Schubert song cycles with tenor Mark Padmore.  He has also recorded Mozart’s Piano Quartets, Schubert’s Trout Quintet, and a Schubert duet disc with pianist Steven Osborne for Hyperion Records. Future recording plans for Harmonia Mundi include Brahms' Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and Daniel Harding, and solo works by Schumann and Mussorgsky.

Lewis studied with Joan Havill at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama before going on to study privately with Alfred Brendel. Along with his wife the Norwegian cellist Bjørg Lewis, he is artistic director of Midsummer Music, an annual chamber music festival held in Buckinghamshire, The United Kingdom.

 

Ticketing

Tickets available from 25 March onwards at all URBTIX outlets, on Internet and by Telephone Credit Card Booking.

 

Half-price tickets available for senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and the minder, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) recipients (Limited tickets for full-time students and CSSA recipients available on a first-come-first-served basis).

 

Group Booking Discount

10% off for each purchase of 4-9 standard tickets; 15% off for 10-19 standard tickets; 20% off for 20 or more standard tickets.

 

Patrons can enjoy only one of the above discount schemes for each purchase.  Please inform the box office staff at the time of purchase.

 

Programme Length

Running time of each performance is about 2 hours with an intermission of 20 minutes.

Audience are strongly advised to arrive punctually.  No latecomers will be admitted until the interval or a suitable break in the programme.

 

Enquiries

Programme Enquiries: 2268 7321

Ticketing Enquiries: 3761 6661

Telephone Credit Card Booking: 2111 5999

Internet Booking: www.urbtix.hk

 

The presenter reserves the right to change the programme and substitute artists should unavoidable circumstances make it necessary.

Concert Sponsor

3 June concert sponsored by

 

Mr. Albert Hung, SBS, JP

Mr. Wilfred Ng, SBS, JP

Mr. Raymond Leung, MH

 

Programme Notes

3 June
3 June
4 June
4 June

Pre-concert Talks

3.6 (Tue)

'A Dialogue with the Concertmaster of the Czech Philharmonic'

 

Speaker

Guest

 

Lio Kuokman

Josef Špaček

 

Conductor Lio Kuokman and Josef Špaček, concertmaster of Czech Philharmonic, met at the Curtis Institute of Music, where Lio studied piano and conducting, and Špaček, violin.  Now meeting up again here in Hong Kong marks a happy occasion indeed, and the two alumni and music-makers will lead a delightful chat through which we will know more about the Czech Philharmonic.

 

Conducted in Cantonese and English

Free admission on a first-come-first served basis

 

 

4.6 (Wed)

'Battling with the Piano': Martinů's passion, Beethoven's courage

 

Speaker

 

Dr. Sharon Choa

 

Dr. Sharon Choa, Chair of School of Music, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, was trained under Jiří Bělohlávek, Chief Conductor of the Czech Philharmonic and has been working on the first critical edition of Martinů’s Symphony No. 4 to be published this year.

 

Conducted in English

Free admission on a first-come-first served basis

 

 

Venue Date & Time Price
Foyer Reception Area, 4/F, Auditoria Building, Hong Kong Cultural Centre
03.06.2014(Tue)
04.06.2014(Wed)
18:45
18:45
Free Admission

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