Semyon Bychkov, Chief Conductor & Music Director
Jakub Hrůša & Tomáš Netopil, Principal Guest Conductors
“Next season will see us together again, sharing music and being an inspiration for one another. It has been much too long since we were distanced by the pandemic. I have missed the immediacy of your presence very much, as have my beloved colleagues of the Czech Philharmonic. Welcome back! We have so much extraordinary music waiting for you! We are waiting for you!” SEMYON BYCHKOV
Welcoming back audiences to Prague’s Rudolfinum on 29 September, the Czech Philharmonic will launch its 126th season with Chief Conductor and Music Director Semyon Bychkov marking the start of his fourth year at the helm of the Orchestra. The season opens with Shostakovich’s Leningrad Symphony, a work that has a deep significance for Bychkov who was born in Leningrad and whose mother lived through the 900 days of the Leningrad siege. The work received its second performance during the siege.
Thanks to flexible artistic programming and rigorous testing, the Czech Philharmonic have continued making music throughout the pandemic despite uncertainties and restrictions. Thanks also to the state-of-the-art 4K equipped Studio Rudolfinum – one branch of Czech Phil Media set up in 2018 – the Orchestra has streamed 16 concerts, reaching audiences of more than 800,000 on Czech TV and 1.9 million via Facebook and YouTube. Five of the concerts presented by the Orchestra were benefit concerts which raised close to £400,000 in support of hospitals, charities and health care professionals.
Programming for the 2021/22 season continues with the Mahler symphonies which Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic are in the process of recording. In addition, new commissions from Bryce Dessner (Mari) and Julian Anderson (Prague Panoramas) will receive their world premières. The Orchestra’s commitment to contemporary music is further explored with works by composers including Kabeláč, Ullmann and Smolka programmed alongside works by Strauss, Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Rachmaninov, Martinů and Janáček. Abroad, the Czech Philharmonic and Bychkov present a three-day Czech Music Festival in Vienna’s Musikverein followed by concerts in Berlin, Hamburg, Essen and London’s Barbican each featuring Smetana’s iconic symphonic cycle Má vlast (My Homeland), which Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic committed to disc during the lockdown. Pending covid-restrictions, a Far East tour is also anticipated.
Complementing Bychkov’s concerts with the Czech Philharmonic are performances led by Principal Guest Conductors Jakub Hrůša and Tomáš Netopil. In addition to subscription concerts in Prague, Hrůša will conduct performances at Smetana’s Litomyšl Festival and record works by Suk, Netopil will conduct at the Dvořák Prague International Festival. This year’s Velvet Revolution Concert, an annual concert initiated by Bychkov to mark the events of 1989, will be conducted by Hrůša with Artist-in-Residence Yuja Wang as soloist.
International guests include conductors Alain Altinoglu, Manfred Honeck, David Robertson, Michael Tilson Thomas and Franz Welser-Möst; and soloists Emanuel Ax, Bertrand Chamayou, Thierry Escaich, Zoltán Fejérvári, Karen Gomyo, Marc-André Hamelin, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Katia & Marielle Labèque, Víkingur Ólafsson, Sir András Schiff, Anne-Sophie Mutter and Pablo Ferrández.
The Czech Philharmonic’s continued commitment to chamber music is evident from the extensive diary of concerts presented by the Czech Chamber Music Society at the Rudolfinum; while the Orchestra’s education department continues its packed programme of initiatives working closely with the Czech Student Philharmonic as well as regular collaborators Ida Kelarová and her Čhavorenge Children’s Choir.
And… just in case covid-restrictions oblige concerts to continue without audiences, an alternative season of streams and broadcasts has been scheduled to enable the Czech Philharmonic to reach its audiences uninterrupted.