Laurie Anderson among stars of Brno Philharmonic’s upcoming US tour

The Brno Philharmonic

The Brno Philharmonic is embarking on a ten-day tour of the United States. The orchestra, which last performed in North America nearly 50 years ago, will play seven concerts at seven different locations. The tour will kick off with a performance of Philip Glass's symphony No 12 called Lodger in Carnegie Hall in New York City. I discussed the details with the philharmonic’s managing director Marie Kučerová.

“We performed this symphony already at the Prague Spring Festival in 2021 and also at the Moravian Autumn Festival in Brno. We also recorded this symphony for our own label, which was nominated for the International Classical Music Awards.

So we are very glad that we can bring this symphony to New York, because it is going to be the New York premiere and we very much hope that the performance will take place in the presence of the composer himself.”

Can you tell us more about the solo performers who will feature in this performance?

Angelique Kidjo | Photo: Ivan Malý

“The symphony was written for a large orchestra with 90 musicians but mainly for the solo vocal musician Angelique Kidjo. She is a world-famous music singer, a Bebi-born musician based in Europe and a multiple Grammy Awards winner.

“This symphony was written for her, so she is the main cast in this piece, but a big part will also be performed by the famous German organist Christian Schmitt. And of course the whole performance will be led by our chief conductor and artistic director, Maestro Dennis Russel Davies.”

Philip Glass is not the only contemporary US composer to take part in your tour.  You will also be joined by Laurie Anderson to perform her composition Amelia, which tells the story of Amelia Erhart, the first woman to fly across the ocean.

Philip Glass and Dennis Russell Davies | Photo: Filharmonie Brno

“Laurie Andersons’s piece is also very familiar to us. We introduced it in Brno a few years ago with a huge success. The American performance is very special to us because Amelie Erhart was born only 50 kilometres from Kansas City, where we are going to perform it. So we are very glad that the organizers have chosen this piece with Laurie Anderson, the legendary New York musician and performer.

“I would also like to add that we are performing a third American living composer, William Bolcom, who lives to the famous university in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and we will be playing his Humoresk, also in his presence.”

Laurie Anderson with Filharmonie Brno,  autumn 2020 | Photo: Filharmonie Brno

What else will be on the programme? Will you also bringing some Czech music to the United States?

“Of course we are bringing Czech, and even Brno, music. We will perform three different Dvořák symphonies, 6, 8 and 9, and then a huge portion of Janáček’s work, specifically his Sinfonietta, the Glagolitic Mass and Taras Bulba.

“The third famous Czech composer we are bringing is Bohuslav Martinů. We will present his Thunderbolt and his Sinfonietta La Jolla, which we are going to perform in California, where it was commissioned.”

As you have already mentioned, you are bringing ninety musicians to the United States as part of the tour. How difficult was it to organize the event?

“In terms of organising and logistics, there is nothing more complex than the US tour, because of the really huge number of musicians. There are of course a lot of flights to book, not only intercontinental but also continental ones, as well as accommodation, the cargo for instruments, the hiring of additional instruments and musicians in the United States.

“So there were a lot of complications and I am really glad to my colleague who has taken care of all this and of course to our American partners, which is the Sheldon Artists Agency.”

Source: Filharmonie Brno

Finally, the Brno Philharmonic last performed in the United States in 1977. Is it true that one of your violinists took part in that tour and how does he feel about going back to the US?

“The violinist joined us in 1977 just at the start of his orchestra career and it is of course very emotional for him. He even found a huge file of reviews and pictures and schedules of this old tour, so now he will be able to compare and I am very much looking forward to that.”