Two Questions for PKF’s Emmanuel Villaume


French conductor Emmanuel Villaume premieres as PKF-Prague Philharmonia’s new chief conductor and music director this season.

French conductor Emmanuel Villaume begins his tenure as Music Director and Chief Conductor of the PKF-Prague Philharmonia this season. So we ask him two big questions.

1 What new insights or experiences would you like to bring as Music Director and Chief Conductor?

I’m totally aware that the Prague Philharmonia is very loved and respected by the audience of Prague. I really want to preserve and capitalize on the work that has been done by my predecessors, Jiří Bělohlávek and Jakub Hrůša.

They have built and tuned a very fine ensemble that is praised all over the world for its sense of style, phrasing, color, musical precision, and an absolute, almost fanatic attention to detail.

Emmanuel Villaume: A Quick Intro
* Currently Music Dir, Dallas Opera
* Guest engagements: Lyric Opera of Chicago; the Santa Fe, Covent Garden, Metropolitan, Washington Natl, San Francisco, Montreal, etc opera companies
* Recent projects with the PKF: Deutsche Grammophon/Anna Netrebko recording; a Warner Classics/Bryan Hymel release; New Year’s concert, Royal Opera House Muscat
* Served as: Chief Conductor, Natl Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra and Chief Conductor, Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra; guest conductor, orchestras in North America, Europe, Australia, China, and Japan
* Born in Strasbourg in 1964, studied music at the Conservatoire de Strasbourg, Khâgne and the Sorbonne; degrees in literature, philosophy, and musicology; at 21, appointed Dramaturg of the Opéra National du Rhin.

On top of that PKF has a love of music that is always there in every concert and rehearsal. All the qualities put together are actually very rare, and I think the audience is very sensitive to this kind of honesty in the music making.

This type of generosity, flexibility, and authenticity in the way you approach music and share it with your audience is significant. So I really intend to bring this to the highest level.

I have been given a responsibility that is very high and in order to maintain these standards we need to push the envelope. We need to invite new people and maybe shake up some of the programming a little. I know the audience is going to follow; our orchestra is young, but it has a rich point of maturity that is very interesting.

It has kept some of its identity as an orchestra of discovery and challenge, with an experience of the concert that is different than some of the older institutions. There is the freshness, vitality, engagement, communication, and unquestionable love for music.

2 Are there two or three concerts you would specifically recommend this season, and why?

It’s very hard to choose one concert over the others. I think we really tried to conceive the season as a whole; that’s why we have a main theme, which is Martinů and the French composers of the beginning of the 20th century.

Of course we stayed with the core and identity of the orchestra, which is classical repertoire such as Mozart and Beethoven. As a matter of fact, Beethoven’s 7th Symphony is going to open the season and we hope it will be a big bang in a very festive way.


Mr Villaume at work

The same concert we will play Mendelssohn’s legendary Violin Concerto in E Minor; Ravel [Suite for Orchestra], who is one of the three greatest French composers; and then a modern work, Five Pieces for Orchestra, by Anton Webern.

And if I had to choose another concert it would be the one that my friend and colleague Matthias Pintscher is conducting in May. Matthias is one of the most respected composers of our time and the music director of Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris.

He is going to conduct one of his pieces, Ex Nihilo;and Beethoven’s 8th Symphony. He’s also going to work with a great Czech soprano, Dagmar Pecková, who will perform songs from Wagner’s Wasendonck Lieder.

And the last concert of the season [Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise, June 5] in the Forum Karlín is something I am very much looking forward to. –oo

Mr Villaume’s premiere performance is Sun, Oct 4 at 7:30 pm at The Rudolfinum, with guest violinist Augustin Dumay. Watch for a future Opus Osm interview on Mr Villaume’s insights into Martinů, coming here soon.

Opus Osm e-mail interview, transcribed by Jana Rejhonová, PKF public relations manager; edited by Mary Matz, Opus Osm editor.

Photo Credits: PKF-Prague Philharmonia website

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