Guest of the Opera
The conductor, composer and pianist Jan Kučera, born in 1977 in Klatovy, is one of the most versatile Czech artists. He studied composition with Bohuslav Řehoř, conducting with Miriam Němcová and Miroslav Košler at the Prague Conservatory and, subsequently, conducting with Vladimír Válek at the Academy of Performing Arts. Within his conservatory graduation concert, he debuted as a conductor with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and premiered his three tone poems, based on motifs from works by Czech writers (Kundera, Hrabal, Kolář). He has composed symphonic and chamber pieces, cantatas and songs, as well as incidental music for more than 30 productions for theatres in Prague and elsewhere in the Czech Republic. He has also created musical arrangements, including symphonic adaptations of Jaroslav Ježek’s songs and several symphonic suites made up of songs and melodies from Czech films. As a conductor, Jan Kučera has regularly collaborated with leading Czech orchestras, with whom he has performed or recorded the classical repertoire, as well as more than 100 symphonic pieces by contemporary composers, many of them in premiere. Between 2002 and 2010 he mainly worked with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra (first as assistant to the former chief conductor, Vladimír Válek, from 2008 to 2010 as conductor). In June 2007, in co-operation with Canada’s renowned Compagnie Marie Chouinard, he and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra performed Igor Stravinsky’s Le sacre du printemps at the Sazka Arena in Prague. In the same year, he received an honourable mention in the conducting competition within the Prague Spring festival. In October 2007, he conducted the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra’s acclaimed performance at the Musikverein in Vienna of Dvořák’s New World Symphony, which he also presented during a tour of Japan, together with Beethoven’s symphonies. Within the Czech Republic’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2009, he and the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra recorded for Supraphon the national anthems of the 27 EU member states. Owing to his musical versatility and promptitude, he has been frequently invited to participate in crossover concerts too. Within the Day of Czech Statehood in 2010, he reconstructed Oskar Nedbal and Jaroslav Křička’s original score for the 1929 silent film Saint Wenceslas, recorded the soundtrack on DVD and subsequently performed it live, accompanied by the film’s screening, at the Rudolfinum in Prague. He has also collaborated with the Prague Symphony Orchestra, with whom he has performed Smetana’s My Country, Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and other works. Jan Kučera has also been active in the opera domain. At the National Moravian-Silesian Theatre in Ostrava, he conducted the productions of Martinů’s Mirandolina and Prokofiev’s The Fiery Angel. At the National Theatre in Prague, he prepared the music and conducted the production of Shostakovich’s Antiformalist Rayok / Orango, the world premiere of his own comic opera Red Mary, based on the cult Czech radio series Rodinka Tlučhořových (The Tlučhoř Family), written by Oldřich Kaiser and Jiří Lábus, and Rossini’s La cenerentola. Since the 2015/16 season, Jan Kučera has been chief conductor of the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra.
Updated: September 2016