PKF - Prague Philharmonia announces new chief conductor; Jakub Hrůša will pass his baton to world-famous conductor Emmanuel Villaume; the agreement was signed at the legendary Avery Fisher Hall in New

Internationally renowned conductor Emmanuel Villaume will be the chief conductor of the PKF

Prague, October 15 – The PKF – Prague Philharmonia is pleased to announce the appointment of internationally renowned conductor Emmanuel Villaume to the position of Music Director and Chief Conductor of the PKF – Prague Philharmonia for a three-year term, effective September 1, 2015.

The announcement was made by the orchestra’s Managing Director Radim Otépka, who praised Villaume’s musical leadership and creative vision together with his command of varying musical styles, bringing a perfect balance of orchestral colors and musical drama.

The agreement marks an important new chapter for the PKF – Prague Philharmonia and was signed just minutes after Maestro Villaume took his final bow at this year’s glittering Richard Tucker Music Foundation Gala Concert at New York’s Avery Fisher Hall.  The signing took place amid the historic scores and manuscripts (including conductor Anton Seidl’s score from the premiere of Dvořák’s “New World” Symphony) that line the walls in the Maestro Room at the iconic venue.

“It is a wonderful joy and a privilege to be offered the artistic leadership of such a prestigious musical institution,” Emmanuel Villaume remarked. “I have always been inspired by the professionalism, commitment, and elegance of its musicians, who strike a perfect balance in performance between musical precision and passion. I am very much looking forward to building the relationship further, and sharing our love for music with every listener.”

The French-born conductor, who has successfully performed and recorded with the orchestra, has already been engaged to lead the PKF – Prague Philharmonia in two New Year’s Concerts at the Royal Opera House in Oman at the end of this year.  Previous collaborations between Maestro Villaume and the orchestra include a Deutsche Grammophon recording with Anna Netrebko, a Warner Classics release with Bryan Hymel, seasonal concerts and several European tours. Through Maestro Villaume’s leadership and deep connections within an international musical community, the PKF – Prague Philharmonia has embarked upon an ambitious long-term plan for global touring, multiple recordings with leading artists, and special projects around the world to increase the orchestra’s profile and to expand its reputation as a world-class ensemble.

“Emmanuel's appointment continues our tradition of musical excellence and strong leadership. It additionally opens new opportunities for the orchestra in Prague, as well as internationally,” explains PKF Chairman Martin Klimpl. “These are going to be very exciting years for all of us and we are so thrilled to have him as our next music director and chief conductor.”

The PKF – Prague Philharmonia, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, was founded by acclaimed Czech Maestro Jiri Bělohlávek. The centerpiece of PKF’s activities in Prague is its orchestral series at the Rudolfinum Concert Hall. The orchestra has also been the first Czech orchestra to successfully pioneer innovative educational activities after the “Velvet Revolution.”  It has been described by The Washington Post as “fully competitive with world-renowned names such as the English Chamber Orchestra, Orpheus or the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.”

Emmanuel Villaume was born in Strasbourg, France in 1964.  His musical education commenced at the Strasbourg Conservatory and continued in Paris, where he received multiple degrees in literature, philosophy and musicology.  Appointed Music Director of the Dallas Opera in 2013, Maestro Villaume also serves as Chief Conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra in Bratislava (since 2009).  Previously, Villaume served as Chief Conductor of the Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra (2008-2013) and as Music Director of the Spoleto Festival USA from 2001 until 2010.

Mr. Villaume’s recent engagements include critically acclaimed performances of Massenet’s Manon with London’s Royal Opera-Covent Garden, Meyerbeer’s rarity L’Africaine with Venice’s Teatro La Fenice, and a dazzling Cendrillon at The Juilliard School that prompted Martin Bernheimer of The Financial Times (U.K.) to observe: “Emmanuel Villaume, the seasoned specialist on the podium, conveyed equal parts savoir-faire and inspiration…and reinforced a delicate balance between lyrical restraint and dramatic exuberance.” He will return to New York’s Metropolitan Opera to conduct Manon next March.

His international obligations will bring Villaume to Dallas this season for productions of Le nozze di Figaro – and Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta, before conducting the opera rarity on tour with Anna Netrebko in Monaco, London, Copenhagen and Lucerne.

Mr. Villaume has both thrilled and charmed audiences around the world, from Covent Garden to the Met, inspiring The Chicago Sun-Times to praise his “almost unique ability to give undervalued works their musical due and move them up several notches in a listener’s estimation”.

The PKF – Prague Philharmonia was founded in 1994 at the initiative of the world-famous conductor Jiří Bělohlávek. Soon after its founding, the PKF – Prague Philharmonia joined the ranks of the most respected Czech orchestras and established great renown in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

The PKF – Prague Philharmonia is beloved for its characteristic sound, created in large part by the key focus of its repertoire: Viennese Classicism, pieces by Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven. The repertoire also includes Romantic compositions, as well as modern and contemporary music, performed within a Special Concert series unique among the selections of Czech orchestras.

The ensemble’s founder, the globally celebrated Czech conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, was at its helm until 2005, when he was named the orchestra’s conductor Laureate. Renowned Swiss flutist and conductor, Kaspar Zehnder assumed the role of chief conductor until 2008, when Jakub Hrůša was appointed chief conductor and music director.

The PKF – Prague Philharmonia is a regular guest at international music festivals, frequently performs at prestigious world concert halls and is a regular partner of world-famous conductors and soloists. To date the orchestra has recorded more than sixty CDs for prominent Czech and foreign labels and some of its albums have received prestigious accolades.

When it comes to music education, the PKF – Prague Philharmonia nurtures the talent of young musicians through its Orchestral Academy project.

The PKF – Prague Philharmonia is supported by by the City of Prague and the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.

Season 2014-15 represents an important milestone in the history of the PKF – Prague Philharmonia. The orchestra is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its founding, highlighted by exceptional concert events and more. In addition to the subscription season, it has launched with a special celebrating "20 years in style" project, plans concerts with elite soloists and conductors included Emmanuel Villaume, Mischa Maisky, Isabelle Faust and others or is going to perform in Oman or on tour in Japan.

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