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Martin Pášma, Tomáš Ille: Dvořák as a Teacher

This year, the traditional Dvořák Prague Family Day centres on the often-overlooked area of Dvořák’s public involvement. This encompasses his teaching activities at conservatories in both Prague and New York. Under his guidance, both schools produced a number of outstanding composers, including Josef Suk, Vítězslav Novák, and Rubin Goldmark, who later became a teacher to George Gershwin. Created for our festival by the Pilsen Philharmonic, the final part of the Dvořák trilogy is therefore aptly entitled Dvořák as a Teacher. We find ourselves in 1890s New York, where the famous Czech composer befriends his pupil, one of the first black students, Harry T. Burleigh, while teaching at the conservatory. Dvořák tells him about his student years at an organ school, his later role as a piano instructor for the Čermák sisters, and his teaching at the Prague Conservatory during his later years. The programme features an unconventional collage of various musical styles: we will hear the school assignments with which the young Dvořák graduated, compositions by his students, music inspired by African-American and Native American traditions, and works where Dvořák skilfully blends American and other influences with his deep affection for his homeland. Through this programme, it is as though Dvořák is teaching us that we should not allow different ideas to drive us apart, but rather bring us together, so that music and all good can develop and flourish.


Pilsen Philharmonic

The Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra, formerly the Pilsen Radio Orchestra, is an ensemble with a strong tradition and distinguished reputation. It stands as one of the most sought-after orchestras on the stages of concert halls in the Czech Republic and abroad (e.g. Gasteig in Munich, Liederhalle in Stuttgart, Alte Oper in Frankfurt, Brucknerhaus in Linz, Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, Kulturpalast in Dresden, Konzerthaus and Stadthalle in Vienna, Tonhalle in Zurich, and Rudolfinum and O2 Arena in Prague). It regularly performs on prestigious stages in Europe, Japan and the USA and is seen at major festivals, both foreign (Engadin Festival in Switzerland, Richard Strauss Tage in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Brandenburger Festspiele, Weilburger Schlosskonzerte, Elbenwald Festival in Germany,) and domestic (Dvořák Prague, Prague Spring).

The Philharmonic also boasts an impressive collection of representative CDs. Notably, its complete set of Antonín Dvořák’s Rhapsodies and the complete works for violoncello and orchestra by Bohuslav Martinů (Petr Nouzovský & Tomáš Brauner), earning the 2017 Classic Prague Award, were received with great acclaim. Released by the German agency Ars Produktion, the most recent CDs include a recording with soprano Karolina Janů and a CD featuring compositions by Ermann Wolf-Ferrari (Alban Beikircher & Chuhei Iwasaki), which was nominated for the prestigious Opus Klassik award. The latest release, Japanese-Czech Inspirations with compositions by Akiri Ifukube and Leoš Janáček, has also garnered exceptional acclaim from distinguished critics in Europe and Japan.

The Pilsen Philharmonic has collaborated with numerous renowned instrumentalists and singers (Andrea Bocelli, Xavier de Maistre, Daniel Müller-Schott, Sergei Nakaryakov, Lilya Zilberstein, Tai Murray, Pascal Roge, Juliane Banse, Thomas Oliemans, Julian Pflugmann, Jeremy Menuhin, Igor Ardasev, Ivan Ženatý, Michaela Fukačová, and others). Notable guest artists have included Ramon Vargas and Montserrat Caballé, as well as a number of outstanding conductors such as Sir Charles Mackerras, Václav Talich, and Jiří Bělohlávek.

Moreover, the Pilsen Philharmonic is also an important organiser. It played a key role in implementing the project Plzeň – European Capital of Culture 2015, and for years it has been the organiser of the international interdisciplinary Smetana Days Festival and the Circle of Friends of Music chamber series. Its project entitled Chance for Young Musicians is dedicated to nurturing talented youth, while the Filharmoníček Children’s Club caters to the youngest audiences.

Since the 2021/2022 season, Chuhei Iwasaki has been the orchestra’s chief conductor, with Jan Schultsz assuming the role of main guest conductor for the 2023/2024 season.

source: Pilsen Philharmonic

Chuhei Iwasaki

Born in Tokyo in 1987, Chuhei Iwasaki has emerged as one of the most sought-after conductors of his generation. He studied violin at the Toho Gakuen Conservatory in Tokyo and then, together with composition and conducting, at the Prague Conservatory. Since 2012, he has been actively engaged in conducting, refining his skills through his studies at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.

Since the 2012/22 season, Chuhei Iwasaki has been the chief conductor of the Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra, conducting subscription concerts in Pilsen and leading regular tours both in the Czech Republic and abroad. However, he has also led many other renowned orchestras on the concert stage (Orquesta Filarmónica de Málaga, Arthur Rubinstein Philharmonie Łódź, Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá, PKF-Prague Philharmonia, Brno Philharmonic, Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava, Štátna filharmónia Košice, Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra, Hyogo PAC Orchestra, and others).

Chuhei Iwasaki has also collaborated with theatre orchestras, including the J. K. Tyl Theatre in Pilsen (Rusalka, Idomeneo, Manon), the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava (Swan Lake, Der Freischütz), and he performed the musical Jesus Christ Superstar at the Karlín Musical Theatre in Prague.

He has also produced notable recordings for Czech Radio and CDs. For the ARS Produktion record label, he has recorded CDs featuring works by Akira Ifukube, Leoš Janáček, and Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (nominated for the Opus Klassik award). Additionally, his recordings for Czech Radio encompass a wide range of works from different styles and eras. These include, for example, the complete symphonies of J. V. Tomášek, the rarely heard symphonies of Jan Kubelík, Dvořák’s Carnival, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade and Rodion Ščedrin’s Carmen Suite. He also intensively devotes himself to recordings of compositions by 20th-century composers (Jan Kapr’s Symphonies No. 3 and No. 10) and contemporary composers (Slavomír Hořínka: The Words of the Cross, Daniel Chudovský: Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, Tomáš Ille: Prague Quarters).

Chuhei Iwasaki is also an educator. As a professor of chamber music at the Prague Conservatory, an artistic mentor at the Orchestral Academy at Švihov Castle, and the artistic guarantor of the Harmony Foundation – EU El Sistema, he plays multifaceted roles in music education and development.

source: Pilsen Philharmonic

Svatopluk Schuller

The actor Svatopluk Schuller (1964) is a graduate of the Theatre Faculty of Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts (1986) in the field of stage acting.

Besides full-time theatrical engagements in Most (1986‒1995) and with Prague’s ABC Theatre (1995‒2008), he has also performed on the stages of the Karlín Musical Theatre, the National Theatre, the Rubín Theatre, the Dvořák Theatre in Příbram, and the Montmartre Theatre. Last but not least, he is also the founder of Prague’s Litera Theatre (2008), which continued the legacy of the defunct Lyry Pragensis, where he had worked previously for several years.

He has appeared in many Czech films and television series. At present, he is engaged mainly as a voice actor and works with a microphone. He has dubbed many roles, and he has lent his voice to many characters in foreign films and series. His commentary can be heard in many documentary films. He also performs regularly on Czech Radio.

Since 2015 he has been collaborating regularly with the Pilsen Philharmonic on their children’s programmes, providing verbal commentary for their programmes etc. He is increasingly involved with combinations of words and music such as Tomáš Ille’s melodrama The Proverbs of Solomon with the Czech Radio Trio.

Zbyněk Fric

The actor and singer Zbyněk Fric got his start at the Horácko Theatre in Jihlava, then he studied at the Academy of Performing Arts for two years and began performing in musicals. He has many big roles in musicals to his credit at theatres in Prague and elsewhere including Jesus Christ Superstar, Dracula, Rent, Hello, Dolly!, Grease, Cleopatra, The Three Musketeers, Angelika, Lucrezia Borgia, Edith Piaf ‒ The Sparrow from the Suburbs, Golem, Kudykam, A Walk Worthwhile (directed by Miloš Forman), Mydlář the Executioner, Romeo and Juliet, Monty Python’s Spamalot (Kladno Municipal Theatre), and Next to Normal at the Na Prádle Theatre.

He is also an actor in plays (Litera Theatre, Lyra Pragensis, National Theatre, ABC Theatre – The Fighter, Hold Me Fast, Love Me Slow, Kalich Theatre ‒ Splašené nůžky, Drama Club ‒ Macbeth). His film and television credits include The Last Transport, The Land Gone Wild, Rodinná pouta, Velmi křehké vztahy, Poslední sezóna, Expozitura, and Královský slib.

At the Kalich Theatre he has performed in the musicals Desire, White Dalmatian, Láska naruby, Osmý světadíl, Tajemství, Atlantida, Srdcový král, and he is still appearing in The Jungle Book, Grease, Saturday Night Fever, Voda a krev nad vodou, and the comedy Splašené nůžky.

Martin Pášma

A scriptwriter, dramaturge, and moderator, from 2003 to 2015 he was the main author and artistic director for the H&P experimental theatre in Zlín. Since 2000 he has been working as an author and protagonist in a series of concerts for youth and adults with the F Major Jazz Band.

Since 2017 he has been working regularly with the Pilsen Philharmonic on creating music drama programmes for children, youth, and families. For these projects, he collaborates as a co-author with the composer Tomáš Ille.

More of his programmes on the topics of classical music and the symphony orchestra have been performed by the North Bohemia Philharmonic in Teplice and the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic in Zlín, and negotiations are ongoing with the Moravian Theatre in Olomouc.

During his 30 years of activity in culture, the arts, and the media, he has created and realised dozens of one-off and long-term projects. He has been working in the performing arts, mainly in the areas of music, literature, and theatre. He has been the author or co-author of several publications, plays, television programmes, and screenplays.

He has appeared on stage all around the Czech Republic in the role of a moderator.

Tomáš Ille

Music composer and arranger. He studied at the Conservatoire in Kroměříž and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (Music and Dance Faculty). His activities cover a broad spectrum. He has composed music for concerts, movies, the theatre stage and for didactic purposes. In addition, he has also composed arrangements and instrumentations. His compositions and adaptations are part of the repertoire of many Czech and foreign orchestras and performers (the Czech Philharmonic; the Berlin Philharmonic; the Vienna Philharmonic; the New York Philharmonic; the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra; the Prague Radio Symphonic Orchestra; the Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra; the South Bohemia Philharmonic; Virtuosi di basso of the Czech Philharmonic; the Czech Philharmonic Quartet, and others).

His works have been published by a number of publishers (Bärenreiter; Schott Music; Universal Edition). A recording of the Symphonic Suite from the opera Jenůfa, which he wrote based on the original opera by Leoš Janáček together with conductor Manfred Honeck and which was recorded by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2015.


Bethlehem Chapel

The Bethlehem Chapel is one of the most important landmarks in Prague. The original building, dating from 1391 and closely associated with the reform movement of Master Jan Hus, was torn down. A modern replica was built at the same site in the 1850s based on a design by the important architect Jaroslav Fragner. At present, the Bethlehem Chapel serves as ceremony hall for the Czech Technical University. It is the site of not only graduation ceremonies for the schools students, but also various cultural and social events.