Lukáš Sommer: Dvořák Airlines for String Orchestra (commissioned by the Dvořák Prague Festival)
Josef Haydn: Concerto for Cello and Orchestra No. 1 in C Major, Hob. VIIb/1
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48
The Dvořák Prague Youth Philharmonic is a new project of the Academy of Classical Music to be hosted by the festival. The orchestra gave its debut at last year’s festival with a frenzied performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (“Choral”). The orchestra, as conceived by the festival’s executive director, Jan Simon, was put together by conductor Tomáš Netopil at his Summer Music Academy in Kroměříž, and thanks to its association with the Academy of Classical Music, it has become a regular part of the Dvořák Prague Festival. The Dvořák Prague Youth Philharmonic is of enormous importance to the players themselves, as they are able to gain professional experience and get the extra incentive of a festival appearance at the Rudolfinum. The public can look forward to an entirely different kind of experience – they will encounter some of the most talented youth players and their candid, euphoric attitude.
The programme opens with a composition by Lukáš Sommer titled Dvořák Airlines – this is the festival’s first commission of a work by a contemporary composer. The evening will continue with great classics: first, Joseph Haydn’s Cello Concerto No. 1, a work of brilliant invention that is refreshing for audiences and performers alike. The soloist will be Armenian cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan. The programme concludes with the Serenade for Strings by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
The Dvořák Prague Youth Philharmonic was conceived as an ensemble focusing on the education and development of young, talented musicians. Orchestra members are under age 25 and study at conservatoires and academies of music. The players are recruited from among the attendees of the Orchestral Academy at the Summer Music Academy in Kroměříž, under the leadership of the exceptional conductor, Tomáš Netopil. Top players from the Czech Philharmonic serve as instructors for individual instrumental sections. The project’s mission is to offer these musicians qualified leadership and active experience with rehearsing a selected symphonic work in a professional manner and performing it in public. For the students, the opportunity to appear at the Dvořák Prague Festival lets them present the results of their hard work, ability, and acquired skills. At last year’s festival, the young musicians’ efforts paid off with a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.
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.
Armenian cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan, who turns 32 this year, is one of the world’s most prominent cellists of the younger generation. His victory at the prestigious Tchaikovsky Competition in 2011 was a springboard for the meteoric rise of his international career. Since then, he has appeared on numerous stages around the globe with illustrious conductors (Valery Gergiev, Ton Koopman, Vladimir Fedoseyev, Neeme Järvi), and he has received enthusiastic reviews, calling him a potential inheritor of the legacy of Mstislav Rostropovich and an aristocrat of the cello who combines technique of the highest order with a feeling for style and musical content. He introduced himself at the Dvořák Prague Festival in 2014 with the Czech Philharmonic under the baton of Jiří Bělohlávek, and he also toured Japan with them. During the last two seasons, his most brilliant successes have included a series of four recitals at London’s Wigmore Hall, concerts with Daniil Trifonov at the Verbier Festival, and a string of appearances in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Toronto.
The Rudolfinum is one of the most important Neo-Renaissance edifices in the Czech Republic. In its conception as a multi-purpose cultural centre it was quite unique in Europe at the time of its construction. Based on a joint design by two outstanding Czech architects, Josef Zítek and Josef Schultz, a magnificent building was erected serving for concerts, as a gallery, and as a museum. The grand opening on 7 February 1885 was attended by Crown Prince Rudolph of Austria, in whose honour the structure was named. In 1896 the very first concert of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra took place in the Rudolfinum's main concert hall, under the baton of the composer Antonín Dvořák whose name was later bestowed on the hall.