Re:Source-Prague Philharmonic Choir

Prague Phil Choir

The Prague Philharmonic Choir was founded in 1935, and performs classical to contemporary works — and not only in the Czech Republic.

This Re:Source article is presented as a service to Opus Osm readers by The Prague Philharmonic Choir.

The Prague Philharmonic Choir (PPC), which marked 80 years of its existence in January 2015, ranks among Europe´s leading professional choral ensembles.

Initially named Radiojournal Prague Choir, it was founded in 1935 by choirmaster Jan Kühn. Its current principal choirmaster, Lukáš Vasilek, has stood at the helm of the Prague Philharmonic Choir since 2007.

The Prague Philharmonic Choir has to its credit many prestigious collaborations with, among others, the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam, and Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

It has appeared in some of the world´s most renowned concert halls and opera houses, including the likes of Milan´s La Scala and the Bavarian State Opera. Figuring on the impressive list of prominent conductors with which the PPC has worked are the names of Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Riccardo Muti, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Christoph Eschenbach, Fabio Luisi, Jiří Bělohlávek, Manfred Honeck, and Sir Simon Rattle, among others.

Not Your Ordinary Repertoire

Prague Philharmonic Choir

This summer the Prague Philharmonic Choir will appear in the operas ‘Turandot’ and ‘Hamlet.’

The PPC´s extensive repertoire is centered around a core of a cappella, cantata, and oratorio works ranging from the Classical period to the present time.

As part of its regular programme, the choir has been running a series of concert productions characterized by thoughtfully conceived dramaturgy, keeping an eye on presenting works previously unheard in the Czech Republic. In the current season for instance, it has so far introduced the Stabat Mater, and Immortal Bach, by Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt.

An important chapter of its endeavours is devoted to participation in opera productions. There, the Prague Philharmonic Choir has worked with, among others, the National Theatre in Prague, and with the Bregenz Festival, since 2010 as the event´s official choir in residence.

Prague Philharmonic Choir

Principal Choirmaster Lukáš Vasilek (r), assistant Jakub Zicha (l)

Over the years of its association with this festival, the choir has featured in Bregenz productions of works of the classical opera repertoire, as well as in several world premieres.

So far the latest of these, The Merchant of Venice by André Tchaikowsky, won the 2014 International Opera Award. At last year´s edition of the festival, in the summer of 2015, the choir made widely acclaimed appearances in new productions of Turandot and Les Contes d´Hoffmann. In the summer of 2016, it will once again feature in Turandot, and apart from that will also appear in Franco Faccio´s opera Hamlet.

A Recording Career Too

The PPC has built up a remarkably extensive discography. Its recordings are available on various labels, including Supraphon, Deutsche Grammophon, Sony Classical, and others. The present season has so far seen the release of two titles: namely, Martinů´s Highland Cantatas (Supraphon), and Dvořák´s Stabat Mater, with the Czech Philharmonic under its principal conductor, Jiří Bělohlávek (Decca).

The PPC, which is funded by the Czech Ministry of Culture, is also engaged in a regular programme of educational activities, organizing the Choral Academy and a series of educational concerts.

The highlights of the choir´s 2015/2016 season include its appearances at Baden-Baden with the Berliner Philharmoniker under Sir Simon Rattle, in Paris with the Orchestre de l´Opéra National de Paris and the Choeurs de l´Opéra National de Paris under Philippe Jordan, and a concert in Dresden with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.

At the beginning of the 2016/2017 season, the choir will take part in the International Festival of Sacred Music in Pisa, Italy, and in October it will make an extensive tour in Israel, with the Israel Philharmonic conducted by Zubin Mehta.

In the Czech Republic, the PPC will appear among other events at the Bohuslav Martinů Festival and the 2016 Janáček Festival in Brno, apart from its regular commitments with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.

Prague Philharmonic Choir

The Choir, led by Lukas Vasilek, has also worked with Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado, and Zubin Mehta. At home in Prague they provide vocal accompaniment for many orchestras, including the Prague Philharmonia-PKF — and in the recent concert, the singers even whistled a popular television theme song.

Find out more details at The Prague Philharmonic Choir’s website.

Photo Credits: Top photos: Petra Hajska; bottom: Miroslav Setnicka

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