Filharmonie Brno comes to the Granada Theatre on Feb. 13 | Credit: Courtesy Filharmonie Brno

The current CAMA International Series hit an apex two weeks ago with one of America’s proud contributions to the symphonic realm of “international” repute, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. On Monday, February 13, The Granada Theatre again dips into the international roster with a strong Czech accent, courtesy of the much-acclaimed Filharmonie Brno, presenting an all-Czech program. Popular composer Antonín Dvořák will be joined by Leoš Janáček and Bohuslav Martinů on the musical menu. 

For anyone keeping count, further American pride comes in the form of the orchestra’s artistic director and chief conductor, American-in-Europe conductor Dennis Russell Davies, who took over the reins of the orchestra in 2018. In the piano soloist chair will be Maki Namekawa, who is connected to minimalist poster man composer Philip Glass, who wrote his first Piano Concerto for her in 2019. Davies and Glass have also had a long association, Davies having premiered Glass operas and, at Carnegie Hall this past December, conducted the New York premiere of Glass’s Symphony No. 12 (Lodger), based on the David Bowie album of the same name.

On its American tour, Filharmonie Brno deals with purely Czech repertoire. Aside from the familiar turf of Dvořák’s Symphony No. 6 in the second half and an opener of Martinů’s Sinfonietta La Jolla, a fittingly central position is allotted to the work Taras Bulba, by perhaps the most respected Czech composer, Janáček — still deserving wider recognition. Taras Bulba is a rhapsody based on the novel by Nikolai Gogol. Locally, Janáček took the spotlight when Opera Santa Barbara staged his opera The Cunning Little Vixen in 2017.

It was Janáček who, in his youth, helped create this very orchestra in his city of Brno in the 1870s. At the time, Brno was the capital of Moravia and is now a major city in the Czech Republic. It is also home to an outstanding orchestra, worthy of the world’s — and Santa Barbara’s — close attention. —Josef Woodard


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