Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Over the past 30 years, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra has grown to become one of the leading Czech ensembles, and currently ranks among the most highly sought after orchestras in Europe. Its glowing reputation can be attributed to the members’ versatility to perform a wide range of genres spanning classical, film music, jazz as well as musicals which see audiences flock to hear them both locally and internationally.
Notable conductors, composers and film directors who have been collaborating with the orchestra or who worked with the orchestra at concerts and in the CNSO Studio in Prague include Lalo Schifrin, Pino Donaggio, Giuliano Taviani, Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard, Quentin Tarantino, Vince Mendoza, Giuseppe Tornatore, Carl Davis, Steven Mercurio, Marcello Rota, Vladimir Cosma, Christian Lindberg and Chick Corea.
Special attention has to go to the longstanding collaboration with the legendary, and recently deceased, Ennio Morricone including studio recordings as well as a series of concerts as part of a great many European tours.
When it comes to studio work, the orchestra has recorded a wealth of fantastic music including a Christmas album with the acclaimed tenors Plácido Domingo and Vittorio Grigolo as well as music for Tarantino’s western “The Hateful Eight”. Based on the aforementioned concert collaboration, the composer Ennio Morricone also booked the Czech National Symphony Orchestra for a recording, and they subsequently created a truly exceptional soundtrack together at London’s famous Abbey Road studio. Morricone's music went on to scoop up a number of awards from a Golden Globe, BAFTA, not to mention an Oscar.
In recent years, artists to have performed repeatedly with the orchestra include Andrea Bocelli, Rolando Villazón, José Carreras, Plácido Domingo, Jonas Kaufmann as well as Piotr Beczala, while in the field of pop collaborations include top names such as Sting, George Michael, Natalie Cole, Dianne Reeves, Angélique Kidjo, Denise Donatelli, Ute Lemper, as well as the instrumentalists James Morrison, Branford & Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Shew, Joe Lovano, John Abercrombie, John Patitucci, Dave Weckl, Chick Corea and many more.
Since 2005 Prague Proms, o. p. s. has been organizing the International Music Festival Prague Proms and the CNSO is its residential orchestra. In addition to its subscription series concerts the orchestra also travels abroad for international tours. Alongside almost all countries in Europe, the CNSO has performed in places as far flung as the United States, Japan, Australia, South Korea, China, Dubai, Oman, Canada and Mexico.
In the spring of 2016, the orchestra completed a concert tour of the United States of America, where (after a successful concert at the Prague Proms 2015 festival) it performed a spectacular Disney Fantasia show.
2017 saw the orchestra head on a month-long European tour with film composers Ennio Morricone and James Newton Howard.
This was followed in 2018 by an interesting opportunity for the orchestra to tour Europe with the acclaimed musical La La Land, but above all as part of the Symphonic Cinema project, a nearly two-month tour of the UK featuring a programme of box office Hollywood evergreens, under the baton of conductor Ben Palmer.
In 2019, the orchestra went on a promising extended tour of the United States, but at the beginning of 2020 it was forced to scale back its concert activities due to the global pandemic. However, the orchestra responded quickly to the changing landscape by arranging its live performances online. NetConcert: the new internet platform is being launched in these days.
The orchestra's artistic pursuits are now back running at the standard pace. After accompanying Plácido Domingo at his performance in the Czech Republic during the summer of 2021, it accepted a collaboration with the world-famous writer and composer Dan Brown performing his Wild Symphony in Prague.
The orchestra is currently based at the aforementioned recording Studio No. 1, otherwise known as the "Gallery" where it boasts several gold CDs for the sale of more than 30,000 media, the Gustav Mahler Prize for the interpretation of his works and, in particular, a prestigious contract with IMG Artists London and APM New York.
A long-term recording project in cooperation with the Japanese publishing house JVC Victor Entertainment stands out as yet another significant achievement, so far resulting in fifty CDs and 8 DVDs.
The imaginary peak for the CNSO is winning the Grammy Music Award in the category of best arrangement, instruments and singing in April 2022. The award was given for the composition “To The Edge of Longing” from Vince Mendoza's record “Freedom Over Everything”. Vince Mendoza was nominated twice for two different tracks from this album which was recorded together with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra in the CNSO recording Studio No. 1. Moreover, director of orchestra Jan Hasenöhrl was also the initiator of the project and the producer of the record.
Trumpet player Jan Hasenöhrl set up The Czech National Symphony Orchestra in 1993 along with the legendary conductor Zdeněk Košler, and led to a fantastic ten years of success under the direction of the American conductor Paul Freeman (1996–2006).
From 2007 the orchestra was led by chief conductor Libor Pešek, marking an exceptional period of collaboration, both as part of the subscription series as well as huge successes on five tours around Great Britain. These concerts have earned the CNSO an enviable reputation with British audiences, and it regularly returns there.
One particularly noteworthy historic achievement is the recording marathon, which took place between 2007 and 2017, when, together with Libor Pešek, the CNSO managed the feat of recording a set of Gustav Mahler's symphonies.
In the spring of 2019, following the departure of Libor Pešek it was announced that he would be replaced by the American conductor Steven Mercurio. This outstanding musician, a pupil of Leonard Bernstein, has been working with the orchestra for several years, and this collaboration promises to deliver a number of exceptional projects.
Photo: Jan Malý