Martin Pášma, Tomáš Ille: Dvořák as a Host
Dvořák Prague Family Day introduces children and their parents to the world of classical music in a fun way. Under both the open sky and in concert halls, they learn not only about Antonín Dvořák, but also about his contemporaries, fellow composers, personal friends and Prague as it was during Dvořák’s lifetime.
At the end of the whole day, Antonín Dvořák himself will return to the Bethlehem Chapel after a year, so that he could repay the imaginary hospitality given to him by another of his friends, Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg, during last year’s festival, and could play host to him as well. It will not end with just talking – Maestro Dvořák has invited the Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra and its conductor Chuhei Iwasaki, so that they could fill up the hall with unforgettable melodies that were penned by both world composers.
The Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra, formerly the Pilsen Radio Orchestra, is an ensemble with a solid tradition and reputation and is requested on stages in the Czech Republic and abroad. The orchestra takes numerous foreign tours and performs at prestigious venues in Europe and the United States. Let us mention the halls of Gasteig in Munich, Liederhalle in Stuttgart, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt, the Brucknerhaus in Linz, the Stadthalle in Vienna, the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin, the Tonhalle in Zürich or Rudolfinum and O2 Arena in Prague. In August 2017, they performed in the new hall of the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
In recent seasons, for example the following performer with the Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra: Tai Murray, Pascal Rogé, Lilya Zilberstein, Juliane Banse, Sergej Nakarjakov, Anne Queffélec, Jeremy Menuhin, Gautier Capucon. Ivan Ženatý and Igor Ardašev. In the past seasons, the dramaturgy included soloists such as Michaela Fukačová, Julian Pflugmann, Nikita Boriso-Glebsky, and Gabriela Demeterová. In the past, these have also included Ramon Vargas, Montserrat Caballé and also a number of outstanding conductors such as sir Charles Mackerras, Václav Talich, Jiří Bělohlávek, and Libor Pešek.
The Orchestra regularly collaborates with Czech Radio and hence follows the tradition of the years 1946 - 1993 (the Pilsen Radio Orchestra). For other labels, they have recently filmed the opera Charity Day by Bohuslav Martinů, which has won several prestigious wards, Rhapsody of Antonín Dvořák or the complete works for violoncello and orchestra by Bohuslav Martinů (Petr Nouzovský & Tomáš Brauner), which was published by Dabringhaus und Grimm and was awarded the Classic Prague Award 2017 in the recording of the year category. The Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra also holds the City of Pilsen Arts Award for the years of 2014 and 2015 in the category of outstanding cultural event of the year, specifically for the concert connected with the Year of Czech Music 2014 held in the Cathedral of St. Bartholomew in Pilsen, during which it performer the Requiem by Antonín Dvořák, and for the Artist and Totalitarianism project. In 2017, the conductor of the Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra Tomáš Brauner was awarded the City of Pilsen Arts Award for outstanding artistic achievement for artists over 30 years, it was for the production of Dvořák’s oratorio Stabat Mater with the Pilsen Philharmonic Orchestra and the Czech Philharmonic Choir Brno. Ronald Zollman replaced Tomáš Brauner in the position of the principal conductor in September 2018, Chuhei Iwasaki is the proncipal conductor from September 2021.
The Pilsen Philharmonic participated significantly in the realization of the project Pilsen – European Capital of Culture in 2015. Since 2013, it has been the organizer of the international interdisciplinary Smetana Days Festival, and also the organizer of the chamber series Circle of Music Friends since 2020. The project Chance for Young Musicians has been aimed at talented youth since the 2019/2020 season and the Phl Harmonic Children´s Club for the youngest audience was opened in that season as well.
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 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.