Amidst concerns for the future of concerts and public events, Filharmonie Brno announced plans for its 65th season at an online press conference on Tuesday with optimism and hope. The Filharmonie online programme will be available in English from next week. Title photo: Filharmonie Brno in the Janáček Theater. Credit: Filharmonie Brno.

Brno, Apr 22 (BD) – Filharmonie Brno’s original dramaturgy for 2020/21, combining the best of the new and the old worlds of music, will feature two subscription series in the Janáček Theater, several Czech and world premieres, and performances by internationally renowned soloists. Brno’s foremost music company will continue to celebrate Beethoven’s 250th anniversary into its jubilee 65th season and, despite concerns about the future development of the current pandemic, is preparing several international tours, including to South Korea and Great Britain, and visits to major domestic festivals.

The celebrations of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary will continue into the new season. Ludwig van Beethoven, portrait by Joseph Karl Stieler, 1820.

Speaking from Linz, Dennis Russel Davies, American conductor and pianist and current Chief Conductor of Filharmonie Brno, expressed his gratitude to all healthcare workers, medical staff, shop assistants in food stores and pharmacies, and others currently working in the front line, and thanked them for their courage and dedication. Marie Kučerová, Director of Filharmonie Brno, added on behalf of the Filharmonie staff that they share a strong hope that the ensemble will be able to return to work in the next season.

The celebrations of Beethoven’s 250th anniversary will continue into the 2020/2021 season. “At the first subscription concert in Besední dům we will celebrate this all-time great composer with three identically-named overtures called Leonora, which will frame the extraordinary works of Antonín Dvořák and my friend Arvo Pärt. After all, the opening concert of the season at Petrov Cathedral, planned for September 11th, is also the very day of Pärt’s 85th birthday. Bruckner’s monumental Fifth Symphony will also be performed,” said Davies.

In photo: Dennis Russel Davies, American conductor and pianist and current Chief Conductor of Filharmonie Brno. Credit: H. Bitesnich.

Marie Kučerová mentioned two internationally-acclaimed guests at the subscription concerts: French violinist Renaud Capuçon, who will perform Brno native Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D major; and German tenor Christoph Prégardien, who will sing songs by Schubert. Both concerts will take place under the baton of Chief Conductor and Artistic Director Dennis Russell Davies, starting his third season of an originally contracted four in Brno.

Following last year’s two chamber evenings, at which Davies accompanied violoncellists as a pianist, the same format is being reprised this year with wind instruments. Davies will also be performing a duet with his wife, pianist Maki Namekawa, as part of a programme featuring the works of Mozart and Shostakovich.

“I’m thrilled to be conducting two Czech premieres of works by my close friends, who are among the most successful composers alive: Thomas Larcher [Symphony No. 3, entitled A Line Above the Sky] and Philip Glass [Symphony No. 2]. A Line Above the Sky “came about through a joint commission by six European orchestras and institutions, including Filharmonie Brno. The world premiere is to be on May 9th in Amsterdam, but nobody knows if it’s going to happen or not,” said Davies, adding that if the premier is cancelled due to the coronavirus, Brno’s performance may become the world premier of Larcher’s work. Philip Glass’s Symphony No. 2 will be performed in the Czech Republic for the first time.

Davies will be conducting Glass’s Symphony No. 2 in one evening alongside Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D Major. Another “programme of symphonies with the same number” will feature the fifth symphonies by Miloslav Kabeláč and Dmitri Shostakovich. This extraordinarily dramatic combination will be conducted by Filharmonie Brno’s Permanent Guest Conductor, Robert Kružík.

“Slovak violinist Milan Pala filled in for a sick soloist at the last moment. Within just a few hours, Pala had studied the virtuoso Vranický’s Violin Concerto in C major and for three evenings he received a standing ovation for his performance. This unprecedented performance led to his invitation to our new season,” said Programme Manager Vítězslav Mikeš.

Armenian composer Tigran Mansurjan, whose Requiem found extraordinary success this year in Brno, composed an orchestral version of his Agnus Dei at the instigation of Filharmonie Brno Programme Director Vítězslav Mikeš, to be performed next season as a world premier. Violin Concerto No. 3 by Alfred Schnittke, performed by the violin maximist Milan Pala, will appear on the same evening. “The impulse for this connection was two extraordinary events ending the season. First of all, the huge success of Mansurjan’s Requiem, and then the incredible Milan Pala, who filled in for a sick soloist at the last moment. Within just a few hours, he had studied the virtuoso Vranický’s Violin Concerto in C major and for three evenings he received a standing ovation for his performance. This unprecedented performance led to his invitation to our new season, this time with a piece closer to his style,” explained Mikeš.

Another novelty of the upcoming season is the release of two CDs under the Filharmonie Brno brand: the first will be the monumental oratorio Lenora by Antonín Rejcha, and the second recording will include Dvořák’s Symphony No. 1 and Bagatelles.

Filharmonie Brno will make a number of domestic and international guest appearances in the new season, with a combination of Czech repertoire and contemporary composers. Their schedule includes shows in South Korea, Austria and Germany (with concerts in Salzburg, Bayreuth and the Kölner Philharmonie), and ten concerts at prestigious concert halls in Great Britain, including London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Leeds. In the 2020/21 season, Filharmonie Brno is also heading to the most pre-eminent domestic festivals: Pražské jaro, Smetanova Litomyšl, and MHF Leoše Janáčka in Ostrava.

The opening concert of the 65th season at Petrov Cathedral is planned for September 11th. Photo credit: Filharmonie Brno.

Subscription series in the new season will return to the format used before Janáček Theater closed for renovation three years ago; two symphonic series will take place at Janáček Theater and one chamber-orchestral will happen in Besední dům. Each of the subscription series in Janáček Theatre comprises four performances over two evenings, while the series in Besední dům comprises six double evenings. 

Eight extraordinary concerts have been arranged, including Opening, Advent, New Year and an educational concert for adults entitled Real Vivaldi. New this season, all concerts begin at 7pm, including the six-concert Jazz & World Music subscription.

“Due to the current situation, we have also expanded online sales. All our subscriptions can now be purchased from the comfort of your home from noon on May 25th. A week later, on June 1st, we are also launching online sales of tailored season tickets, and all individual tickets,” said Kučerová. She added that this year for the first time, a First Minute discount of 10% is available to all those who purchase subscriptions by June 19th. 

Brno Daily is a proud media partner of Filharmonie Brno, providing English-language coverage of its program and plans.

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