Jakub Hrůša leading series of concerts by New York Philharmonic

Jakub Hrůša

Renowned Czech conductor Jakub Hrůša granted an interview to the Czech Centre New York just before conducting the first of his three concerts with the New York Philharmonic and violinist Hilary Hahn.

Jakub Hrůša | Photo: Petra Hajská,  The Czech Philharmonic Orchestra

How many times have you actually played with the New York Philharmonic?

“I'm performing with the New York Philharmonic this week for I think the fourth or fifth time. It's always a great experience. The New Yorkers are an extremely technically equipped orchestra, which also has a very vigorous and lively sound, their concerts always have a lot of ‘juice.’

“However, we also fit each other very well personally. The ensemble has become much younger in recent years, and I can say from my experience that they are very open to both new repertoire and new ideas in pieces that they have played countless times. Simply put, working with them is very creative, freeing and personally satisfying.

“Now all this is joined by a newly renovated, actually - inside - brand new concert hall, which allows the orchestra to deal with even greater details and nuances. I think musicians enjoy it and appreciate that they can suddenly play at another level of elaboration. The new acoustic and visual medium also attracts many audiences, so the concerts of the New York Philharmonic are truly events as it should also be.”

Hilary Hahn | Photo: Decca

Why specifically with this soloist Hilary Hahn, and why this particular repertoire?

“As for our soloist, I've only worked with Hilary Hahn, extremely famous and respected here in America, once, and it's been quite a few years. I remember we played the not-so-well-known Menotti Violin Concerto. It was in Stuttgart. Since then we have met several times, but never had the opportunity to perform together again. I am very much looking forward to the musical meeting with her.

“Hilary is a big name, a big celebrity in classical music, and I'm looking forward to working with her, also to inspire me to look anew at Prokofiev's First Violin Concerto which I love, it's an absolute gem. After all, the rest of the program is no less engaging: at the beginning we will perform the Ballade in A minor by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, the black British composer of the time of Dvořák and Tchaikovsky, and in the second half the famous Concerto for Orchestra by the Hungarian composer Béla Bartók, a virtuoso piece in which any orchestra can show their best qualities.

“We got to the program through mutual discussion. After the Czech compositions by Dvořák and Janáček, which I conducted here at my debut in 2017, I later brought a variety of repertoire, for example by Rimsky-Korsakov, Borodin, Liszt, Kodály, again Dvořák and Janáček, or Martinů. This time, my program is decidedly international.”

New York | Photo: Kateřina Ayzpurvit,  Radio Prague International

You repeatedly conduct the top American symphony orchestras, the so-called ‘Big Five’. What makes the New York Philharmonic unique for you?

It is a big satisfaction for me to be able to regularly conduct the absolute best orchestras in the US, called the ‘Top 5’. Next to the Chicago Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra and the Boston Symphony, it is the New York Philharmonic that I particularly like to return to most regularly.”

The other two concerts of the New York Philharmonic with violinist Hilary Hahn, conducted by Jakub Hrůša, are set to take place on January 12 and 13.

Author: Miroslav Konvalina
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