As part of the celebrations surrounding the 100th Anniversary of Czech Independence, the Czech Philharmonic, under the direction of maestro Semyon Bychkov, performed a special gala concert on October 29, 2018, in the Kennedy Concert Hall.
The concert featured Antonín Dvořák’s Seventh Symphony, his renowned Cello Concerto with guest soloist Alisa Weilerstien, as well as Luboš Fišer’s Double for Orchestra. The exquisite performance, presented in collaboration with the Karel Komárek Family Foundation and the Washington Performing Arts Society, brought the house down with thunderous applause and standing ovations, drawing three encores.
In his program note, Czech Ambassador to the US Hynek Kmoníček said of the milestone anniversary, “Here, in the United States, it is a special occasion for the hundreds of thousands of those who feel their heart beat in Czech rhythm and for the crucial role the United States has played in the story of Czech independence in the past, the present and will surely play in the days to come.”
During the evening, David Mareček, executive director of the Czech Philharmonic, accepted the highly esteemed Antonín Dvořák Prize presented by the Czech Academy of Classic Music and given to the orchestra for its lasting contribution to Czech music. Mareček said that receiving the award on behalf of the Czech Philharmonic was “a tremendous honor.”
Karel Komárek, Czech entrepreneur, philanthropist and co-chairman of the Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts, together with Czech Ambassador Hynek Kmoníček celebrated the centennial anniversary at the gala event in the company of numerous distinguished guests, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Czech Minister of Culture Antonín Staněk, US Ambassador to the Czech Republic Stephen King, former Czech Ambassador to the US Petr Kolář, and notable personalities of the Czech-American community.
A press conference with the Czech media preceded the concert, announcing the Czech Philharmonic as the recipient of the Antonín Dvořák Prize. Past recipients of the prestigious prize, a crystal cello made by the traditional Czech glass company Moser, have included cellist Yo-Yo Ma, choreographer Jiří Kylián, conductor Jiří Bělohlávek, among other prominent cultural leaders. This is the first year that an institution has received the award.