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Czech conductor directs the SF's future

THE SLOVAK Philharmonic (SF) starts its 55th season with renowned Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek at the post of Designated Artistic Director. Under this title he will not fully work with the SF, as he has other contracts. Only the start of the 2005/2006 season will bring his full engagement with the philharmonic, when he becomes the chief conductor of its orchestra.
Bělohlávek, who has worked with philharmonic orchestras around the world, will basically continue the work with the Slovak Philharmonic he started last February.


JIŘÍ Bělohlávek conducting with his magic hands.
photo: Courtesy of SF

THE SLOVAK Philharmonic (SF) starts its 55th season with renowned Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek at the post of Designated Artistic Director. Under this title he will not fully work with the SF, as he has other contracts. Only the start of the 2005/2006 season will bring his full engagement with the philharmonic, when he becomes the chief conductor of its orchestra.

Bělohlávek, who has worked with philharmonic orchestras around the world, will basically continue the work with the Slovak Philharmonic he started last February. He will conceptually prepare programmes for the future seasons, manage foreign activities, and influence the direction of the orchestra.

As a conductor, he will lead the SF orchestra only once this season, on April 2004. In his work, he will closely cooperate with young Slovak directors Rastislav Štúr and Tomáš Hanus, also new faces at the philharmonic.

The opening concert of the new season will take place on October 31 at 19:00. The Slovak Philharmonic orchestra, under the baton of Czech director Petr Altrichter, will perform the overture to the ballet The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43 by Ludwig van Beethoven; Concert for Piano and Orchestra in A minor, Op. 54 by Robert Schumann, which will feature Slovak pianist Ivan Gajan; and Symphony in C major, D. 944 by Franz Schubert.

Before the official opening of the season, the SF orchestra will play on October 17 under the baton of Japanese conductor Chihira Hayashiho, accompanied by the Japanese Toho Music University Choir with Slovak as well as Japanese soloists. On October 22, the Slovak Philharmonic will host a concert of works compiled by Slovak composers. And the October 30 concert will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the early music ensemble Musica Aeterna, which will perform works of the French Baroque, led by French conductor Paul Colléaux.

The SF programme for the new season offers a variety of concerts, including four family concerts and four public rehearsals dedicated to young members of the public.

"The novelty of the season is the series of four concerts for demanding listeners, during which works by Slovak, Czech, Russian, and composers connected to Vienna will be performed," said Jozef Tkáčik, the SF's general director.

"Music ensembles of the SF will present three premieres by Slovak composers. The first will be Symphony No. 9 by Ilja Zeljenka, a work composed at the SF's request. Not less significant will be the premiere of the Zeljenka's Concert for Two Pianos and String Orchestra, as well as a new work by Peter Zagar," Tkáčik said.

According to Bělohlávek, the dominant motif of the season is the SF's 55th anniversary, translating into an effort to "present the orchestra in the widest spectrum of individual periods and compositions close to the ensemble".

Other conductors who will come to lead the SF's orchestra in the coming seasons are James Judd, Peter Keuschnig, and Peter Feranec. From among the top musicians, audiences will hear solos on violin by Jekaterina Frolova, Tibor Kováč, Juraj Čižmarovič, and Ivan Železný, and on piano by Ivan Moravec, and Jan Simon.

The orchestra of the SF plans to participate in music festivals in Germany, Austria, and Italy. Its choir will tour Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Canary Islands, and Italy. Of the other SF ensembles, the Slovak Chamber Orchestra of Bohdan Warchal will participate in the guitar festival in Austria, Musica Aeterna will play in Spain and Bulgaria, and the Moyzes Quartet will travel to Italy and Hungary.

"The Slovak Philharmonic is an orchestra of excellent qualities with a superb history. However, in the visual aspect of the sharp quality development in the field of interpreting art over the last decades, and in demanding international competition, only those ensembles that are and will be able to constantly renew their artistic potential in a creative way will survive. And to develop these qualities [of the SF orchestra] is our mutual goal," Bělohlávek said.

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