Ministry hopes new director will renew Czech Philharmonic

19-10-2010

The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra will soon be under new management: specifically that of David Mareček, who the Ministry of Culture appointed to lead the orchestra on Monday. It is hoped that the youthful director of the Brno Philharmonic will bring new vigour to the post and especially an end to years of disputes between the orchestra and its management. Christian Falvey has the story.

David Mareček (left), Czech Minister of Culture Jiří Besser, photo: CTKDavid Mareček (left), Czech Minister of Culture Jiří Besser, photo: CTK The selection of David Mareček to head the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra was not a complete surprise, his name having been in the air since the competition for the position was announced in September. The Ministry of Culture made no secret of the fact it was looking for “renewal” in the choice of director, and the 34-year-old Mr Mareček has shown an ability for success through innovation at the Brno Philharmonic, where he has been the director since 2007. An expert in musical interpretation from the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts, his tenure in Brno was focused on attracting new and younger audiences, staging performances in an old factory for example and integrating the work of music schools, professors and professionals. For an opinion on the selection we turned to Dr. Petr Veber, the head of classical music at our sister station Vltava.

“He is a relatively young man, and I’ve heard from Brno, where he has been the director of the Brno Philharmonic, that it’s a pity that he’s leaving. So that is a signal for me that was probably successful and the right man for the job there. So my hope is that he will be fine in this position here as well. On the other hand, this position is very complicated; there was no stability for many years, there were many strikes and problems between the director and the orchestra and within the orchestra and so on. So this is a very difficult position, and my hope is that Mr Mareček will have enough diplomatic skill to do the job, because it is not a ‘normal’ position.”

David Mareček, photo: CTKDavid Mareček, photo: CTK The post of director of the Czech Philharmonic has unfortunately become a synonym for discord, with the musicians, artistic council, management and ministry all having been at odds at various times in the last two years over matters of finance, ethics and even control of the gallery in the orchestra’s Rudolfinum concert hall. When he takes up shop on February 1, David Mareček will be the fifth director since 2008, succeeding deputy culture minister and provisional crisis manager Radek Zdráhal. According to Dr. Veber, mending fences within the orchestra will therefore be the new director’s top priority. Just beyond that will be the pressing task of finding a new chief conductor when Israeli maestro Eliahu Inbal steps down in 2012, another choice that should be aimed at reinvigorating the somewhat fractured institution.

19-10-2010