Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 in d minor "Ode to Joy", Op. 125

Being a musician in an orchestra is an art that few people notice, yet it seems to be even more important for music than being an admired soloist. The ability to be a part of a larger whole, to give committed performance in its interest, and to contribute towards its quality is all the more complicated to the degree to which the individual players are more anonymous in spite of their importance.


Teaching young musicians to work in orchestral synergy is the goal of the Dvořák Prague Youth Philharmonic. The orchestra was established in cooperation with the conductor Tomáš Netopil, and its operational base was originally planned to be the Orchestral Academy at the Summer Music Academy in Kroměříž, but that event has been cancelled this year because of the pandemic. Netopil and his assistant Chuhei Iwasaki will rehearse the young orchestral players in Prague and will lead them in their premiere performance at the festival. They will be performing Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in D Minor ("Choral") not only to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth, but also to proclaim joyously the initiation of a new festival tradition.


In partnership on stage with the young artists and their instructors in the orchestra will be soprano Simona Šaturová, mezzo-soprano Markéta Cukrová, tenor Petr Nekoranec, and bass Jan Martiník. The quartet of singers will remind us that performing Beethoven's enormously difficult parts often requires musicians to subordinate their individual abilities to a greater whole, as is necessitated by Schiller's "Ode to Joy" at the conclusion as the logical outcome of Beethoven's symphonic monument. The Prague Philharmonic Choir led by Lukáš Vasilek will lend its vocal brilliance to this special festival event.


Dvořák Prague Youth Philharmonic

The Dvořák Prague Youth Philharmonic is a musical ensemble with a basic focus on the education and development of talented young artists. It was created at the suggestion of the Dvořák Prague International Music Festival programming director Jan Simon as one of the new projects of the Academy of Classical Music. The players are students at conservatoires and academies of music up to age 24, and the orchestra’s membership base consists of participants in the Orchestral Academy, which was newly founded at the International Summer Music Academy in Kroměříž under the leadership of the exceptional conductor Tomáš Netopil. Top instrumentalists from the Czech Philharmonic serve as instructors for the individual instrumental sections. The project’s mission is to offer young, talented musicians qualified leadership and active professional experience with rehearsing selected symphonic works and performing them publicly. For the students, their appearance as part of the Dvořák Prague Festival will be a presentation of the results of their efforts, ability, and acquired skills.

Tomáš Netopil

Conductor Tomáš Netopil, known around the world as one of the most talented Czech conductors, is now in his tenth (and final) year as the general music director of the Aalto Musiktheater and the Philharmonie Essen. This season, awaiting him on his home stage will be premieres of Wagner’s Tannhäuser, Kampe’s Dogville, and Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. He will also be conducting a new production of Janáček’s Káťa Kabanová at the Grand Théâtre de Genève. As the Czech Philharmonic’s principal guest conductor, he will lead concerts at Prague’s Rudofinum and also at the Smetana Litomyšl and Janáček May festivals, of which he is the president. Other highlights from this season include concerts with the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre National de Montpellier, and the opening concert of the festival Concentus Moraviae, where he will be at the helm of the legendary Concentus Musicus Wien.

He is the artistic director at the successful international Summer Music Academy in Kroměříž, which he founded in 2018. Tomáš Netopil also has strong ties to the Dvořák Prague Festival: he was its artist-in-residence for the 2017 season, and in 2020 and 2021, the Dvořák Prague Youth Philharmonic appeared at the festival under his baton in cooperation with his Kroměříž academy.

In addition to productions at the Aalto Musiktheater in Essen, Tomáš Netopil has led many important opera performances at the Saxon State Opera in Dresden (La clemenza di Tito, Rusalka, The Bartered Bride, The Cunning Little Vixen, Halévy’s La Juive, and Busoni’s Doktor Faust), the Vienna State Opera (Idomeneo, Die Freischütz, Leonore), the Dutch National Opera (Jenůfa), and the Grand Théâtre de Genève (The Makropulos Affair).

Tomáš Netopil has appeared on concert stages with many renowned orchestras. Besides the Essen and the Czech Philharmonic, these include the Orchestre National de France, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia, Zurich’s Tonhalle-Orchester, the Orchestre de Paris, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, the RAI National Symphony Orchestra in Torino, and the Prague Symphony Orchestra.

Tomáš Netopil studied violin at the P. J. Vejvanovský Conservatoire in Kroměříž and conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts. He also continued his studies at the Royal Academy in Stockholm under Professor Jorma Panula and at the Aspen Summer Music School in the USA, where he won the top prize of the American Conducting Academy in 2003 and 2004. He returns to Aspen regularly as a guest conductor. In 2002, he won the Sir George Solti Conducting Competition in Frankfurt am Main.

Tomáš Netopil has made highly acclaimed CDs under the Supraphon, OehmsClassics, Radioservis, Dynamics labels.

Source: HarrisonParrott

Chuhei Iwasaki

Chuhei Iwasaki – conductor and composer, has been attracting attention for his ability to lead symphonic, operatic and choral repertoires with poise, positioning himself as one of the most versatile young conductors. From the season 2021/2022, he was appointed new chief conductor of the Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra.

In recent seasons Chuhei Iwasaki has collaborated with orchestras such as the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic, Brno Philharmonic, Slovak State Philharmonic Kosice, Hradec Králové Philharmonic Orchestra, North Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Hyogo PAC Orchestra, and others.

Active as both an orchestra and opera conductor, Chuhei Iwasaki has conducted the Pilsen Opera Theatre opera productions of W. A. Mozart: Magic flute, Idomeneo, B. Smetana: Libuše, A .Dvořák: Rusalka, A. Glazunov: Ballet Manon, B. Britten: Opera ‘The little sweep’ and Curlew river, the burning fiery furnance.

Chuhei Iwasaki has appeared as a guest conductor at significant Czech festivals such as the Prague Spring International Music Festival, Smetana’s Litomyšl International Opera Festival (Czech Republic), and at the Dvořák Prague International Music Festival.

Chuhei Iwasaki was born in Tokyo. He studied violin at the Toho Gakuen High School of Music. He continued to study the violin, and composing and then conducting at the Prague Conservatory and at The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. From 2016 Chuhei Iwasaki is professor-conductor of the Prague Conservatory's String Orchestra.

He is also the conductor of the social music program ‘El Sistema’ in the Czech Republic.

The Prague Philharmonic Choir

The Prague Philharmonic Choir (PPC) is a leading European vocal ensemble, and as one of the Czech Republic’s foremost artistic institutions operates under the trusteeship of the Czech Ministry of Culture. During the choir’s long history since its foundation in 1935, it was directed by a succession of some of the most distinguished Czech choirmasters (including Jan Kühn, Josef Veselka and Lubomír Mátl). Since 2007 its principal conductor has been Lukáš Vasilek.

The PPC’s repertoire is centred primarily around oratorios and cantatas. The choir has worked with eminent international orchestras (the Czech Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Staatskapelle Dresden or Wiener Symphoniker, among others), and conductors (including Daniel Barenboim, Semyon Bychkov, Christoph Eschenbach, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Manfred Honeck, Jakub Hrůša, Philippe Jordan, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta, Tomáš Netopil, Gianandrea Noseda, Sir Simon Rattle). As the choir in residence at the opera festival in Bregenz, Austria, the PPC is likewise active in the domain of opera.

Apart from these commitments, the PPC engages in several own projects. Since 2011 it has organised its own concert series in Prague, with a programme focused on technically demanding and/or lesser-known choral works, either a cappella or with chamber-scale instrumental accompaniment. The PPC has taken some of these choral projects abroad (including within its tours in the USA and Mexico – 2014, in Russia – 2018). The choir regards as an inseparable part of its activity educational endeavours targeting the young. In this context, it has been involved in organising a Choral Academy for voice students, a project aimed at enabling young artists to acquire practical skills through work with a professional vocal ensemble; and with focus on young children, running a series of educational concerts and a programme of voice workshops in schools.

The PPC has to its credit an extensive discography, with many titles released by major international labels (e. g. Decca Classics, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical and Supraphon). In recent years the choir has taken part in several unique recording projects, two of them in association with the Czech Philharmonic. The first of these, a recording of Antonín Dvořák’s Stabat Mater (Decca, 2017), with Jiří Bělohlávek conducting, received the coveted Diapason d’Or de l’Annèe award for the year’s best album in the sacred music category. The second, a recording of Bohuslav Martinů’s The Epic of Gilgamesh (Supraphon, 2017), under the baton of Manfred Honeck, won several awards in the United Kingdom in 2017, plus another Diapason d’Or. Its album featuring chamber cantatas of Bohuslav Martinů (Supraphon, 2016), received top accolades of the prestigious British magazines Gramophone (Editor’s Choice) and BBC Music Magazine (Choral and Song Choice). In the latter, it was also nominated for its annual award in the choral music category. In 2020, Decca Classic released an album of Antonín Dvořák’s music (Te Deum, Requiem), in which the Prague Philharmonic Choir participated.

In the 2022/2023 season, the Prague Philharmonic Choir’s activities in the Czech Republic include concerts at several festivals such as the Dvořák Prague, Smetana’s Litomyšl, and the Prague Spring. The choir will also appear in performances together with the Czech Philharmonic, Prague Symphony Orchestra, or Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and will perform under renowned conductors such as Semyon Bychkov or Daniel Harding. The international activities include a performance at Bruckner National Festival in Linz and the choir will also return to the opera festivals in St. Gallen and Bregenz.

The Prague Philharmonic Choir is the recipient of the 2018 Classic Prague Award for Best Vocal Concert, and Czech Television’s Classical Music of the Year Award. In 2022, the choir was awarded the Antonín Dvořák Prize.

Lukáš Vasilek

Lukáš Vasilek studied conducting and musicology. As a conductor, he first worked with the Foerster Female Chamber Choir and subsequently served as the second choirmaster of the National Theatre Chorus, Prague. Since 2007, Lukáš Vasilek has been the principal conductor of the Prague Philharmonic Choir, with his work entailing exploration and performance of the a cappella repertoire, as well as the ensemble’s preparation for singing in great cantata, oratorio and opera projects, implemented in collaboration with major orchestras and conductors.

Lukáš Vasilek has guided the PPC in the majority of their activities in the Czech Republic and abroad, cooperating with world-renowned conductors (over the past few years, they have included Semyon Bychkov, Manfred Honeck, Jakub Hrůša, Philippe Jordan, Fabio Luisi, Tomáš Netopil, Gi anandrea Noseda and Sir Simon Rattle) and orchestras (for instance, the Berliner Philharmoniker, Czech Philharmonic, Israel Philharmonic, St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony). Besides leading the Prague Philharmonic Choir, Lukáš Vasilek has pursued other artistic activities. In addition to occasional returns to his original discipline, orchestral conducting, he has regularly worked with Martinů Voices, a vocal ensemble he himself founded in 2010.

As a conductor or choirmaster, he has participated in nu-merous recordings the PPC has made for prestigious labels, including Decca Classics and Supraphon. In recent years, Lukáš Vasilek has systematically devoted to recording Bohuslav Martinů’s choral music. His albums met with great international critical response and received prestigious accolades from Gramophone, the BBC Music Magazine and Diapason.

In 2021 Lukáš Vasilek started teaching conducting of a choir at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. In early 2022 Vasilek was a guest conductor to the French choir Accentus and later that year he prepared the Prague Philharmonic Choir for the performances of Dvořák’s Rusalka, Stabat Mater, etc.

Simona Šaturová

‘Simona Šaturová, a native to Bratislava just like Lucia Popp and Edita Gruberová, is nothing short of a small Mozartian miracle. She sings the part of Konstanze with such unwavering coloraturas, sensitive pianos and stylistic perfection that it will take your breath away.’ (Der neue Merker)

Simona Houda-Šaturová is a highly sought-after performer of Mozart roles and of the Italian bel canto repertoire, as well as a renowned concert singer. The highlights of recent seasons include her performance of Mozart’s trilogy (Mozart – Da Ponte) in the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, Brussels, in which she sang the part of Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) and made her debut as Countess Almaviva (The Marriage of Figaro), as well as her collaboration with the Vienna Philharmonic and Herbert Blomstedt, with the Munich Philharmonic and Krzysztof Urbański, with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and Andrés Orozco-Estrada, with the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and Juraj Valčuha, with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Charles Dutoir at the Tanglewood Music Festival, with the Mozarteum Orchestra and Riccardo Minasi at the Salzburg Festival, a concert tour with the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Manfred Honeck and Jakub Hrůša, and with the Orchestre National de Paris and Jukka-Pekka Saraste. Concert and opera productions have taken her to the Semperoper in Dresden, the Theater an der Wien, Opéra de Rouen, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the Opéra de Monte-Carlo, the Oper Frankfurt, to Megaron Athens Concert Hall, Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Konzerthaus and Musikverein in Vienna, the Tonhalle in Zürich, the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Hercules Hall in Munich, to festivals held in Salzburg, Edinburgh and Lucerne, and led to working on pieces with conductors such as Christoph Eschenbach, Manfred Honeck, Fabio Luisi, Herbert Blomstedt, Ádám Fischer, Iván Fischer, Tomáš Netopil, Tomáš Hanus, Robert Jindra, Emmanuel Villaume, Christopher Hogwood and others. The opera singer is a very popular guest at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels, the Aalto Theatre in Essen and the National Theatre in Prague.

Her discography is also very rich. She has recorded music for Supraphon (Martinů, Dvořák, Míča), Sony BMG (Orff, Saint-Saëns), Orfeo (Haydn’s Arias, awarded the ‘Editor’s Choice’), Accentus (Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 with Herbert Blomstedt, given the International Classical Music Award), Hänssler Classics (Haydn), Nibiru Publishers (Decade – Mozart, Mysliveček, and Ryba’s Stabat mater, awarded the Diapason d’Or) and others. Her recording of Hasse’s Requiem & Miserere (Carus Verlag) and Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with Christoph Eschenbach and the Philadelphia Orchestra (Ondine) won an award given by German critics, the ‘Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik’, and the Supersonic Award. She has recorded Eugen Suchoň’s song cycle Ad astra for the Slovak Music Fund. Her latest recording to date is Te Deum by Karol Kurpiński (with Collegium 1704 and Václav Luks NIFCCD, 2021).

Simona Houda-Šaturová graduated from the Bratislava Conservatoire and furthered her vocal education at maestro courses taught by Ileana Cotrubas in Vienna and under the tutelage of Margreet Honig in Amsterdam. She holds the Charlotte and Walter Hamel Foundation Prize for outstanding singing performance (Lübeck 2007) and the Thalia Award for the best opera performance in 2001.

Markéta Cukrová

Markéta Cukrová belongs to the most sought-after Czech soloists in the field of historically informed music. She gives guest performances in the National Theatre in Prague, National Theatre in Brno, and Košice State Theatre. She regularly cooperates with Italian ensemble Mala Punica and Belgian Club Mediéval, in the Czech Republic she regularly performs with Collegium Marianum, Musica Florea, Czech Ensemble Baroque or Ensemble 18+. In recent years, she has been short-listed two times for the Opera Plus Award for the Best Opera Singer of the season and nominated for two major opera awards of the Czech Republic (Thalia, Classic Prague Awards).

The mezzo-soprano Markéta Cukrová is a unique phenomenon in the field of Czech vocal music. For her spectacular versatility and her sense of style, she ranks among the most sought-after singers in the field of “early music” up to 20th century classical music. She performs with many ensembles that offer top-class interpretations of both the Medieval and Baroque music (La Risonanza, Mala Punica, Les Muffatti, Collegium Marianum, Ensemble Tourbillon, Collegium Vocale Gent, Collegium 1704, Musica Florea, Ensemble Inégal, Czech Ensemble Baroque, Wroclaw Philharmony, {oh!} Orkiestra Historyczna, Göttingen Festival Orchestra). Markéta has also participated in more than twenty recordings of early music with ensembles mentioned above.

Her performances of the early song repertoire from the turn of the nineteenth century (Haydn, Tomaschek, Berlioz) accompanied by fortepiano are highly prized, as well as her recordings of 8 Italian arias by J. D. Zelenka (Ensemble Tourbillon) and her recent recording of J. J. Ryba’s Stabat Mater together with the ensemble L'Armonie Terrena, which was awarded Diapason d'Or. The newest release represents the whole of Moravian duets by Antonín Dvořák accompanied by composer's own instrument (precious Bösendorfer, Vienna 1879). She also acted as the music dramaturge of the 9 Weeks of Baroque festival which was held during the project Pilsen – European Capital of Culture 2015.

Markéta is also engaged in pedagogical activities in the form of courses and lessons focused on the technique of singing and interpretation of vocal music. She also translated a book of interviews with famous teacher Margreet Honig which is about techniques and teaching of singing and was published under the title True Singing.

She is also known for her notable opera appearances: Her performance as Dardano in Händel’s Amadigi di Gaula at the Händelfestspiele in Göttingen, Germany, received high critical praise followed by an invitation to perform in a solo recital. She also guests in the Košice State Theatre (Handel/Alcina), the National Theatre Brno (Offenbach/ Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Martinů/The Miracles of Mary, Purcell/ Dido and Aeneas, Saariaho/ L'Amour de loin, Rossini/ Le comte Ory, Offenbach/ Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Ivanovič/Monument), the National Theatre Opera in Prague (Monteverdi/Orfeo, Händel/Rinaldo, Martinů/Julietta) and the The National Moravian-Silesian Theatre Ostrava (Britten/The Rape of Lucretia, Gluck/Ifigenia in Aulis, Martinů/Julietta).

Petr Nekoranec

Petr Nekoranec, a rising star of the tenor firmament, graduated from the Pardubice Conservatoire. He launched his meteoric artistic career at the age of twenty, when he won two prizes at the Antonín Dvořák International Singing Competition in Karlovy Vary. Two years later, he won several prizes at the Prague Spring International Music Competition, and in 2014 he won second prize at the Concours International de Chant in Toulouse, France. In 2017 he was the overall winner of the prestigious Francesco Viñas International Competition Singing in Barcelona. From 2014 to 2016 he was an ensemble member with the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, where he sang several parts, including the title roles in Rossini’s Le comte Ory and in Britten’s Albert Herring. For the latter role, he was awarded the Bavarian Arts Prize. In 2016 he took part in the Lindemann Programme at New York’s Metropolitan Opera as the first Czech in history to do so. Since September 2018 he has been engaged as a soloist with the Stuttgart Opera, where he is appearing as Rossini’s Count Almaviva (Barber of Seville) and Ramiro (La Cenerentola) and Donizetti’s Ernesto (Don Pasquale).

Jan Martiník

Born in the Czech Republic, the bass Jan Martinik has won several prizes, including – in 2009 – the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize.

In the past eight years, Jan has been a soloist of Berlin’s Staatsoper Under den Linden, the oldest opera house in Germany, singing in the roles of Brander (La damnation de Faust), Colline (La Bohéme), Eremit (Der Freischütz), Father Trulove (The Rake’s Progress), Pistola (Falstaff), Sarastro (Die Zauberflöte), and many others. He has also worked with Komische Oper Berlin, Prague’s National Theatre, Vienna’s Volksoper and other opera houses.

A regular guest with the Czech Philharmonic, Jan has recently made appearances with the Bamberger Symphoniker, BBC Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, LSO, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, and Staatskapelle Dresden, to name but a few. Coming up are his performances with the LSO, the Czech Philharmonic and the Berlin Philharmonic.

Jan sings under some of the world’s most prominent maestros, including Daniel Barenboim, Jiri Belohlavek, Semyon Bychkov, Manfred Honeck, Jakub Hrusa, Fabio Luisi, Zubin Mehta, Sir Simon Rattle and Sir John Eliot Gardiner.

Jan’s recording of Schubert’s Winterreise, which was recently released by Supraphon, received five Diapasons and his recording of Dvorak’s Biblical Songs with the Czech Philharmonic and Jiri Belohlavek was released on the Decca label in early 2020. He is also one of the soloists on the Czech Philharmonic’s recording of Martinu’s Epos of Gilgamesh (released by Supraphon in 2017) and on Collegium 1704’s recording of Donizetti’s Requiem.