Filharmonie Brno To Mark Anniversary of Velvet Revolution With Dvořák’s Oratorio “Saint Ludmila”

The special concert, organised in conjunction with the Musia Art Agency, will take place at 6pm on November 17th in Petrov Cathedral, and will feature a 100-piece choir. Photo credit: Courtesy of Filharmonie Brno.

Brno, Nov 6 (BD) – The concert will be conducted by Chief Conductor Dennis Russell Davies, and alongside the soloists and orchestra will feature a special choir of more than 110 singers. “These are three connected Brno choirs led by choirmaster Jan Ocetek: Vox Iuvenalis, Kantiléna Mixed Choir and the Masaryk University Choir. Such casting will certainly add to the monumental nature of the work,” explained Marie Urbánková, director of the Musia Agency. The evening will be presented by priest, naturalist and writer Marek Orko Vácha.

Photo: Pavla Vykopalová. Credit: Courtesy of Filharmonie Brno.

Dvořák received an order for the oratorio from the Leeds Festival in 1884. Although the organizers requested biblical themes, Dvořák told the story of Saint Ludmila, one of the most striking figures in Czech history, wife of the first historically documented Přemysl Prince Bořivoj I, and grandmother of St. Wenceslas. “That’s why we decided to celebrate the anniversary with this piece. However, I have to point out that we are presenting it in short form; the original length is almost three hours, whereas ours is an hour and a half,” said Marie Kučerová, director of Filharmonie Brno. She added that the concert will be performed without a break.

St. Ludmila is one of Dvořák’s most extensive works, both in length and instrumentation. According to historical sources, his intense concentration and mental strain at work turned into attacks of agoraphobia, which he suffered for the rest of his life. The composer Josef Suk, Dvorak’s pupil and son-in-law, states in his memoirs that “while working on the oratorio of Saint Ludmila he was tired, nervous and suffering from severe stomach problems. He was very unhappy at the time and was really worried about his life.”

Experts consider the oratorio an exceptionally colorful and melodic work, alternating between majestic and intimate passages. They especially appreciate his conception of the Lord of Love, which at first sounds like a festive march and culminates as a grandiose stunning fugue. “This is not the first time I have sung the part of St. Ludmila, and I have to say that I always find something new in it. It is a deep and demanding work for us singers. Whenever I hear this music, I realize how it is blended with pure faith in God in various variations,” said soprano Pavla Vykopalová, who will perform in the role of St. Ludmila.

The concert takes place on November 17th at 6pm in Petrov Cathedral. Seated tickets are already sold out, and there are fewer than 70 standing tickets left. Tickets are available in advance on Besední and at the House of Lords of Lipá, online at and at the venue 45 minutes before the concert.

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