Stepping Up to the Professional’s Podium

Opus Osm

Chuhei Iwasaki makes the obligatory bow to the audience before beginning to conduct.

The Conservatory student (who formed a student ensemble) conducts his first professional orchestra: So, how did it go?

Chuhei Iwasaki is the young Prague Conservatory student who earlier this year formed the Young Prague Chamber Ensemble (see Opus Osm, April 8, 2013) with his peers at the conservatory.

But this May evening he was leading the Talich Philharmonic Prague in works by Bach, Mozart, and Dvořák in the Concert Hall of his alma mater.

Opus Osm wanted to know the conductor’s thoughts on how leading the Talich compares to the Young Prague ensemble. “The Talich Philharmonic is a professional orchestra, so they have more experience,” Mr Iwasaki explains. “And they are used to playing a great concert with only a few rehearsals. We had two rehearsals, which is typical for the Orchestra. But not for me. With the Youth Ensemble we normally have six rehearsals, minimum. But both orchestras have a friendly atmosphere,” he adds.

The concert opened with Bach’s Fourth Brandenburg Concerto, performed by the Talich Philharmonic and special guests Eva Blažková and Anežka Kufová, both students at the Jan Deyl Conservatory and Secondary School for the Visually Impaired. Their flutes were perfectly matched in the duets, even though as the conductor points out, “It is difficult to play in the Baroque style on modern instruments.”

Another challenge for Mr Iwasaki was conducting according to the soloists, one of whom is blind. The only noticeable difference was that the podium was closer to the flute duo.

‘I Felt Wonderful Accompanying Her’

Next, it was on to Mozart’s Concerto for Bassoon in B Flat. Conservatory graduate and current HAMU student Denisa Beňovská impressed the audience with her mastery of the bassoon. “Mozart’s music is always flowing!” Mr Iwasaki tells us. “His music always seems easy, but it is not. Denisa is very energetic, very full of feelings … I felt wonderful accompanying her.”

The final piece of the evening was Dvořák’s Symphony No 8. In the third movement, Mr Iwasaki points out, “It is important to create the Slavonic feeling! And for me as a Japanese person, this was the biggest task.” He adds, “The fourth movement is a variation, so I had to make the whole music line make sense. And it was difficult not to be in a trance in the Coda!” — something the audience felt as well.

Mr Iwasaki brings great warmth and gusto to his conducting, as you can see in the video above. “This chance, and the whole concert, was a highlight for me!” he says, adding his thanks to the conservatory and his professors “and those closest to me” for their support and help.

Chuhei Iwasaki will continue his conducting studies at HAMU this fall. Expect to hear more from him. — oo

– Mary Matz

Mr Iwasaki will conduct The Young Prague Chamber Ensemble in a concert of works by contemporary Czech composers (e.g. Lukáš, Gemrot, Teml) June 18 at 7 pm at the Conservatory Concert Hall.

Photo Credits: Photo and video: Miroslav Setnička

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared.

%d bloggers like this: