Prague Symphony Orchestra

05-17 February 2025

Conductors: Tomáš Brauner and Petr Altrichter (Birmingham concert only)
Soloists: Gabriela Montero, (piano), Alexander Sitkovetsky (violin)


Founded in 1934, the Prague Symphony Orchestra (FOK) is a leading Czech ensemble with an impressive tradition and international reputation, which enriches the concert life of the Czech metropolis and represents Prague and Czech culture abroad at the highest level. As the official orchestra of the City of Prague, it is based and performs in the attractive space of the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House. The abbreviation FOK stands for Film – Opera – Koncert which was the orchestra’s original focus.

Tomáš Brauner has been Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra since the 2020/2021 season. Prior to him, Rudolf Pekárek, Václav Smetáček, Jiří Bělohlávek, Petr Altrichter, Gaetano Delogu, Serge Baudo, Jiří Kout, and Pietari Inkinen held this post. Tomáš Netopil has been designated Chief Conductor from the 2025/2026 season. Rita Chepurchenko and Roman Patočka are the orchestra’s first violinists.

The orchestra has maintained its artistic reputation and respect throughout its existence by working with internationally renowned conductors (Václav Talich, Rafael Kubelík, Karel Ančerl, Sir Georg Solti, Seiji Ozawa, Walter Süsskind, Zubin Mehta, Kurt Masur, Carlos Kleiber, Sir Charles Mackerras, Charles Dutoit, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Leonard Slatkin, Michel Plasson, Neeme Järvi, Krzysztof Penderecki, Christoph Eschenbach, Eliahu Inbal, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Paavo Järvi, Richard Hickox, Andrey Boreyko, Helmuth Rilling, Jac van Steen and others); instrumental soloists (David Oistrach, Isaac Stern, Josef Suk, Rudolf Firkušný, Sviatoslav Richter, Claudio Arrau, Ivan Moravec, Garrick Ohlsson, Maurice André, Mstislav Rostropovich, Mischa Maisky, Martha Argerich, Heinrich Schiff, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Sergei Nakariakov, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Vadim Repin, Pinchas Zukerman, Felix Klieser, Lukáš Vondráček, Maxim Vengerov and others) and singers (Kim Borg, Katia Ricciarelli, Gabriela Beňačková, José Cura, Anne Sofie von Otter, Peter Dvorský, Edita Gruberová, Thomas Hampson, Ruggero Raimondi, Philip Langridge, Renée Fleming, Bernarda Fink, Linda Watson, Eva Urbanová, Simon O’Neill, and others).

Each season the Prague Symphony Orchestra plays over fifty orchestral concerts in Prague. Before the season opens, the orchestra meets its audience at a traditional free open-air concert in the Wallenstein Garden.

The Prague Symphony Orchestra has performed in most European countries, as well as repeatedly in the United States, and has also visited South America, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Turkey, Israel, Oman, China and other countries. In August 2022, it made its debut at the Elbe Philharmonic in Hamburg. In 2023 the orchestra performed in Austria, Germany, and Hungary. Traditional tour destinations include Japan and South Korea, where the orchestra will again visit in January 2024.

The orchestra’s long tradition is documented by an extensive catalogue of gramophone, radio and television recordings, and the most interesting archival recordings have been made available online. The orchestra recorded music for most Czech films of the 1930s. Under the baton of the chief conductor Tomáš Brauner, the Prague Symphony Orchestra has recently recorded Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances, works by Karel Husa, including the legendary Music for Prague 1968, and piano concertos by Sergei Rachmaninov with Lukáš Vondráček.

The FOK brand is also associated with the organisation of chamber concerts. Prague audiences have become very fond of the Chamber Music and Early Music series at the Church of St. Simon and St. Jude. The FOK also traditionally organises a series of piano recitals in the Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum, the chamber concerts Pictures and Music at the Agnes Monastery, and music and literary programmes in the Word and Music series at the Viola Theatre.

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Tomáš Brauner, conductor

Beginning in 2020, he became the Chief Conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, focusing mainly on the Czech repertoire both at home and around the world. Tomáš Brauner has performed many works with the Prague Symphony Orchestra including Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7, Stabat mater, Slavonic Dances, Rusalka – fantasy, Smetana’s My Country, Suk’ Asrael, and other works. In 2018 Tomáš Brauner toured with the Prague Symphony Orchestra in Munich (Rachmaninoff: Piano Concert No. 2 & No. 3) and in Poznań (Smetana: My Country). In 2022 he performed with Prague Symphony Orchestra in Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.

Tomáš Brauner works regularly with leading symphony orchestras and opera houses including the Czech Philharmonic, Deutsche Radio Philharmonie, Münchner Symphoniker, Nürnberger Symphoniker, Slovak Philharmonic, Philharmonie Sudwestfalen, National Radio Orchestra Romania, Moscow Radio State Orchestra, Athens Orchestra of Colours, PKF – Prague Philharmonia, and many more.

Tomáš Brauner began his opera conducting career at the J.K. Tyl Theatre in Plzeň. He made his debut at the Prague State Opera in 2008 with a performance of Verdi’s Othello. In the National Theater in Prague he conducts Verdi’s La Traviata. He has conducted Janáček’s Jenůfa at the prestigious Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City. In 2019 he had new productions at the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava with Hoffman’s Les Contes d’Hoffmann.

Tomáš Brauner also receives regular invitations to perform at major international festivals such as Prague Spring, Bad Kissingen, and the Richard Strauss Festival in Garmisch Partenkirchen.

His recording of the complete cello works by Bohuslav Martinů for the Dabringhaus und Grimm label won Classic Prague Awards 2017.

Tomáš Brauner was born in Prague in 1978. After graduating in conducting from the Prague Academy of Performing Arts in 2005 he undertook a study attachment at the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst in Vienna. Five years later he was a prizewinner at the Dimitris Mitropoulos International Conducting Competition in Athens.

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Petr Altrichter, conductor

Petr Altrichter attracted international attention in 1976, when he won second prize and a special prize of the jury at the renowned International Conducting Competition in Besançon, France. Based on this achievement he began to work with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra as an assistant of Václav Neumann, which started his artistic career. After working with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, in 1988 he became the principal guest conductor of the Prague Symphony Orchestra and in 1991 he was appointed its chief conductor. With that orchestra, he made frequent foreign tours to Japan, the USA, Switzerland, Germany, France, and other countries.

From 1993 to 2004 he also worked as the Music Director of the Südwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Constance, Germany, with which he gave concerts regularly at the Tonhalle in Zurich and at the KKL in Lucerne, and also toured Switzerland and Italy. Having made his U.K. debut with the Prague Symphony Orchestra at the Edinburgh Festival in 1990, Petr Altrichter made his London debut with the English Chamber Orchestra 1993. He then conducted the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 1994 to a great critical acclaim. He was subsequently appointed its Principal Conductor, a post he held from 1997 until 2001. With this orchestra he appeared at the 2000 BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and made several highly-praised recordings on the orchestra’s own label, RLPO live.

In 2001 Altrichter was invited to become the Chief Conductor of the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, and he remained there for seven years, returning to the orchestra with which he had been associated since his student days and which he continues to guest conduct up to this day. He is also a regular guest of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, with which he has maintained a steady artistic relationship since his beginnings there as an assistant conductor, and of the Prague Symphony Orchestra, the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, with which he recorded an award-winning CD with Antonín Dvořák’s music. Since the 2018/2019 season, he has been a permanent guest conductor of the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom he has been working for many years.

Altrichter has appeared as a guest conductor with many leading international orchestras, including Japan’s NHK Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. In the United Kingdom he has collaborated with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The orchestras he has guest conducted also include the Bruckner Orchestra in Linz, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the Krakow Philharmonic Orchestra, the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra in Baden-Baden, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra in Riga, the Gran Canaria Philharmonic Orchestra, the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra, the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Danish Orchestra in Copenhagen and the Odense Symphony Orchestra.

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Gabriela Montero, piano

Gabriela Montero’s visionary interpretations and unique compositional gifts have garnered her critical acclaim and a devoted following on the world stage. Anthony Tommasini remarked in The New York Times that “Montero’s playing had everything: crackling rhythmic brio, subtle shadings, steely power…soulful lyricism…unsentimental expressivity.”

Montero’s 2023-2024 season will feature performances of her own “Latin Concerto” on an extensive US tour with Mexico City’s Orquesta Sinfónica de Minería and Carlos Miguel Prieto, as well as with the New World Symphony (Stéphane Denève), Polish National Radio Symphony (Marin Alsop), Antwerp Symphony (Elim Chan), and National Arts Centre Orchestra (Alexander Shelley), the latter with which she continues a flourishing four-year Creative Partnership through 2025. In May 2024, Montero also makes her highly anticipated return to Los Angeles to work with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra and Jaime Martín.

Montero’s other recent highlights include a European tour with the City of Birmingham Symphony and Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, as well as debuts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony, Orchestre National de France, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, and the Minnesota Orchestra, where “Montero’s gripping performance…made a case that she might become the classical scene’s next great composer/pianist” (Star Tribune). Other recent highlights include residencies with the Sao Paolo Symphony, Prague Radio Symphony, Basel Symphony, and at the (partially COVID-disrupted) Rheingau Festival; debuts at Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall, New York’s 92nd Street Y, Paris’s Philharmonie and La Seine Musicale, and the London Piano Festival at King’s Place; and the launch of “Gabriela Montero at Prager”, an ongoing artistic residency established at the Prager Family Center for the Arts in Easton, Maryland.

Celebrated for her exceptional musicality and ability to improvise, Montero has performed with many of the world’s leading orchestras to date, including: the New York, Royal Liverpool, Rotterdam, Dresden, Oslo, Vienna Radio, Naples and Netherlands Radio philharmonic orchestras; the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg, NDR Radiophilharmonie Hannover, Zürcher Kammerorchester, and Academy of St Martin in the Fields; and the Yomiuri Nippon, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Houston, Atlanta, Toronto, Baltimore, Oregon, Dallas, Vienna, Barcelona, Lucerne and Sydney symphony orchestras; the Belgian National Orchestra, and the Cleveland Orchestra, orchestra of the Komische Oper Berlin, and Residentie Orkest.

A graduate and Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London, Montero is also a frequent recitalist and chamber musician, having given concerts at such distinguished venues as the Wigmore Hall, Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Philharmonie, Frankfurt Alte Oper, Cologne Philharmonie, Leipzig Gewandhaus, Munich Herkulessaal, Sydney Opera House, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Lisbon Gulbenkian Museum, Manchester Bridgewater Hall, Seoul’s LG Arts Centre, Hong Kong City Hall, and the National Concert Hall in Taipei, and at the Barbican’s ‘Sound Unbound’, London Piano, Edinburgh, Salzburg, SettembreMusica in Milan and Turin, Enescu, Lucerne, Ravinia, Colorado, Gstaad, Saint-Denis, Violon sur le Sable, Aldeburgh, Cheltenham, Rheingau, Ruhr, Trondheim, Bergen, and Lugano festivals.

An award-winning and bestselling recording artist, her most recent album, released in autumn 2019 on the Orchid Classics label, features her own “Latin” Concerto and Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major, recorded with the Orchestra of the Americas in Frutillar, Chile. Her previous recording on Orchid Classics features Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and her first orchestral composition, Ex Patria, winning Montero her first Latin Grammy® for Best Classical Album. Others include Bach and Beyond, which held the top spot on the Billboard Classical Charts for several months and garnered her two Echo Klassik Awards: the 2006 Keyboard Instrumentalist of the Year and 2007 Award for Classical Music without Borders. In 2008, she also received a Grammy® nomination for her album Baroque, and in 2010 she released Solatino, a recording inspired by her Venezuelan homeland and devoted to works by Latin American composers.

Montero made her formal debut as a composer with Ex Patria, a tone poem designed to illustrate and protest Venezuela’s descent into lawlessness, corruption, and violence. The piece was premiered in 2011 by the Academy of St Martin in the Fields. Montero’s first full-length composition, Piano Concerto No. 1, the “Latin Concerto”, was first performed in 2016 at the Leipzig Gewandhaus with the MDR Sinfonieorchester and Kristjan Järvi, and subsequently recorded and filmed with the Orchestra of the Americas for the ARTE Konzert channel.

Winner of the 4th International Beethoven Award, Montero is a committed advocate for human rights, whose voice regularly reaches beyond the concert hall. She was named an Honorary Consul by Amnesty International in 2015 and recognised with Outstanding Work in the Field of Human Rights by the Human Rights Foundation for her ongoing commitment to human rights advocacy in Venezuela. In January 2020, she was invited to give the Dean’s Lecture at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and has spoken and performed twice at the World Economic Forum in Davos. She was also awarded the 2012 Rockefeller Award for her contribution to the arts and was a featured performer at Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential Inauguration.

Born in Venezuela, Montero started her piano studies at age four, making her concerto debut at age eight in her hometown of Caracas. This led to a scholarship from the government to study privately in the USA and then at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Hamish Milne.

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Alexander Sitkovetsky, violin

Alexander Sitkovetsky was recently announced as the Artistic Director of the renowned NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra Wroclaw, Poland, taking up his position from the 2023-24 season.

Alexander was born in Moscow into a family with a well-established musical tradition. He made his concerto debut at the age of eight, and the same year moved to study at the Yehudi Menuhin School where he is now an Associate Artist. Lord Menuhin was his inspiration throughout his school years, and they performed together on several occasions. 

Following a three-year residency at the Lincoln Center in New York through the prestigious Bowers Program of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center (CMS), in 2016 Alexander received the Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Award, and now retains a position on the CMS artist roster, making several visits annually to perform at the Center. Also an alumnus of The Royal Academy of Music in London and the Kronberg Academy, Germany, his outstanding talents as soloist, orchestra director, and chamber musician have attracted accolades and won many awards, including 1st prize at the 2011 Trio di Trieste Duo Competition alongside pianist Wu Qian, and he is now increasingly in demand worldwide across multiple roles. 

As a soloist he is regularly invited to guest with orchestras touring the UK, in recent years including the Brussels Philharmonic, Tonkünstler Orchester Vienna, Russian Philharmonic Novosibirsk, St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra.     

Key concerto performances include appearances with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Munich Chamber Orchestra, Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, European Union Chamber Orchestra, Halle Orchestra, Academy of St. Martin’s in the Fields, Moscow Symphony Orchestra, St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra, Orquesta Filarmónica de Bolivia, National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra,

Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra, Residentie Orkest The Hague, Welsh National Opera Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, London Philharmonic Orchestra and Philharmonia Orchestra.

He is much in demand as a director and has worked with Australian Chamber Orchestra, Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, Amsterdam Sinfonietta, Liszt Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players, Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra, New York Chamber Players, Camerata Zurich, Arctic Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra and the Romanian Sinfonietta. 

The forthcoming season 2023-24 sees Alexander establish the first season of his artistic directorship in Wroclaw with 5 projects with the NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra, Wroclaw as well as various tours.  He will also return as soloist to Brno Philharmonic, Aarhus Symphony Orchestra and English Symphony Orchestra, and will direct the Salzburg Camerata, the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, the Camerata Novi Sad and the Romanian Sinfonietta. He will appear internationally in chamber music performances with the Sitkovetsky Trio, Julia Fischer Quartet and as a duo with pianist Wu Qian.

During the recent season 2022-23, Alexander gave concerto performances with Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Czech Republic, returned to Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and Chattanooga Symphony, and also debuted as soloist/director with the Royal Northern

Sinfonia, and Liszt Chamber Orchestra, Budapest. He returned as director to the Romania Sinfonietta, Detmold Chamber Orchestra and NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra, Wroclaw. As a chamber musician, he performed regularly at the CMS of Lincoln Center New York, and at the Storioni Festival in the Netherlands, Stavanger Festival and Music for Galway, and his summer tour of European festivals included Denmark, Italy, and the Schubertiade Festival in Austria. In December 2022 he performed the Bruch Concerto under Gábor Takács-Nagy Verbier Festival at Schloss Elmau.

His recordings have won great critical acclaim, notably his 2018 Chandos recording of Philip Sawyers’s Violin Concerto with the English Symphony, and a CPO recording of Andrzej Panufnik’s Violin Concerto with the Konzerthaus Orchester Berlin to commemorate the composer’s 100th birthday, which won an ICMA Special Achievement Award.

Alexander is a founding member of the award-winning Sitkovetsky Trio with whom he has performed worldwide. The Trio won the BBC Music Magazine award for Chamber Music in 2022. He also tours regularly as a permanent member of the Julia Fischer string quartet.     

Alexander plays the 1679 ‘Parera’ Antonio Stradivari violin, kindly loaned to him through the Beare’s International Violin Society by a generous sponsor. 

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