Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Celebrating its 25th birthday in 2018, the CNSO has earned an enviable reputation among both Czech and Europe’s top symphonic ensembles. Renowned for its versatility, the orchestra annually presents a broad programme ranging from classical music concerts to contemporary genres, film scores, jazz and musicals. Since 2005 the Czech National Symphony Orchestra has also organised the summer Prague Proms Festival, which with its impressive array of prominent international performers, appeals to a diverse audience year in year out.
Composers, conductors, and performers such as Ennio Morricone, Lalo Schifrin, James Morrison, Branford & Wynton Marsalis, Pino Donnagio, Giuliano Taviani, José Carreras, Danny Elfman, Vince Mendoza, Giuseppe Tornatore, Carl Davis, Steven Mercurio, Marcello Rota, Christian Lindberg, Chick Corea, Vladimir Cosma repeatedly come back to Prague to either record with the orchestra or perform in the beautiful Smetana Hall at Prague’s Municipal House, the home concert stage of the orchestra. Highlights from recent concert seasons include a European tour with the legendary Ennio Morricone, and a Prague concert with Anna Netrebko. Meanwhile in the studio the orchestra worked on recording Plácido Domingo and Vittorio Grigolo'snew Christmas album, also collaborating with Ennio Morricone on his score for the new western film “The Hateful Eight“ directed by Quentin Tarantino. Ennio Morricone then went on to win an Oscar after 500 movie credits! The soundtrack was recorded live and launched by Tarantino, Morricone, and the CNSO at Abbey Road Studios in December 2015. Following on from the collaboration with Columbia Artists Management Inc., the orchestra toured the USA in February and March 2016. In 2017, the orchestra toured extensively with Ennio Morricone and James Newton Howard.
The CNSO has also renewed its longstanding cooperation with Andrea Bocelli, plus accompanied Rolando Villazon and Jonas Kaufmann. The orchestra has collaborated with some of the most prominent pop artists, such as Sting, George Michael, Natalie Cole, Dianne Reeves, Angélique Kidjo, Denise Donatelli, Ute Lemper, and great instrumentalists, such as James Morrison, Branford & Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Shew, Joe Lovano, John Abercrombie, John Patitucci, Dave Weckl, Chick Corea and many more.
Successful tours have taken place over the British Isles, USA, Canada, France, Spain, Dubai, Japan, Mexico, China, Korea, Oman, Australia and New Zealand. The Czech National Symphony Orchestra’s recordings go on sale worldwide, and the orchestra takes pride in having produced a number of Gold CDs (for more than 30 000 copies sold). Other accolades include the Gustav Mahler Prize, awarded for the interpretation of Mahler’s works, and the prestigious contract the orchestra signed with IMG Artists London and Columbia Artists New York. Achievements also include a long-standing recording project in association with Tokyo-based media company Victor Entertainment.
The Czech National Symphony Orchestra was set up in 1993 by trumpet player Jan Hasenöhrl along with the legendary conductor Zdeněk Košler. In 1996, the American Paul Freeman took over as Chief Conductor, and remained in this position for an amazing ten years.
The orchestra has worked with its principal conductor Libor Pešek since 2007 - a period which could be described as exceptional both in terms of its subscription series as well as five hugely successful tours around Great Britain. These concerts helped earn the CNSO an enviable reputation with British audiences, and has seen them return to the island on a regular basis.
And how could we forget the historic feat of the recording marathon between 2007 and 2017 during which time Libor Pešek and the CNSO managed to record the complete symphonies of Gustav Mahler.
Libor Pešek will be stepping down from his role in spring 2019 and will be replaced by the American conductor Steven Mercurio. This fantastic musician and former pupil of Leonard Bernstein has worked with the orchestra for several years now and the partnership promises to bring about a number of exceptional new projects.
Photo: Jan Malý