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The Czech Symphony Orchestra Comes State-Side

Emily LeStrange | Monday, February 9, 2009

Don’t be surprised if you hear orchestral music ringing throughout campus this weekend; Czechoslovakian music is taking South Bend by storm.

On Wednesday night, the Debartolo Performing Arts Center will host a performance of the world-renown Czech Symphony Orchestra. Although highly influenced by the works of Czechoslovakian composers, the Orchestra’s repertoire also includes works by Beethoven and Mozart.

Since 1954, the Czech Symphony Orchestra has been one of the most prominent symphony orchestras in the world. At the peak of the era of Communism, the Czechoslovakian government prevented the Orchestra from touring foreign countries, particularly those that stood against the principles of communistic countries. The birth of the Czech Republic in 1993 and the end of communism allowed the group the freedom to perform as they please. Since then, the Orchestra has found success touring in many countries, including Europe, the U.S., Japan, and Taiwan.

The Orchestra performs many pieces by 18th century Czechoslovakian composer LeoÅ¡ Janácek. Janácek, famous for pioneering new patterns of chord spacing, was very influential in the lives of Bedrich Smetana and Antonín Dvorák, two other Czechoslovakian composers showcased by the Orchestra. However, while the Czechoslovakian heritage is highly influential to the Orchestra, it does not prevent the musicians from exploring the works of other composers.

One of the most famous performances the Orchestra has given was in 2006 at the Rudolfinum Hall in Prague. Prague was also home to the Orchestra’s performance in the Contemporary Musical Festival during the same year. Other notable showings include various international festivals in Australia, the Netherlands, and Italy. This year the Orchestra’s 2009 American Tour includes four-weeks worth of performances in California, Massachusetts, and Florida in addition to the Orchestra’s appearance at Notre Dame, a standard stop on the tour.

The Czech Symphony Orchestra is led by Maestro Theodore Kuchar. Kuchar has been the Artistic Director and Musical Conductor of the Orchestra for the last 15 years. Best known for his role in recording over 90 discs of orchestral music in the last decade, Kuchar recently assumed his role as conductor during the Orchestra’s performance of Smetana’s work in a three-disc recorded special. As put by Classics Today, “Theodore Kuchar is an extremely exciting and talented conductor, and his take-no-prisoners approach works very well in this colorful music.”

Kuchar also holds the title of Principal Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine, and has frequently been a guest conductor of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra.World-renowned violinist Jennifer Frautschi will also be present Wednesday night. In 2008, Frautschi toured with the European Concert Hall Organization in the Rising Stars series, debuting in forums including London’s Wigmore Hall and the Salzburg Mozarteum. As “The Chicago Tribune” wrote in a recent article, “the young violinist Jennifer Frautschi is molding a career with smart interpretations of both warhorses and rarities.”

As listed on the Debartolo Performing Arts Website, the performance of the Orchestra will include many violinist pieces, including Smetana’s “Ma Vlast” and other works by Felix Mendelsshon and Antonín Dvo?ák. The performance also includes a short intermission.

The Czech Symphony Orchestra can be seen on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Leighton Concert Hall. Ticketed admission is required. Tickets are $48 for general admission, $38 for faculty/staff, and $15 for students.