Under the direction of Music Director Steven Mercurio, the CNSO celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2023.
Touring the US with violinist Robert McDuffie in February 2023.
Czech National Symphony Orchestra (biography)
Czech National Symphony Orchestra
Under the direction of Music Director Steven Mercurio, the CNSO celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2023. Recognized as one of Europe’s first-rank symphonic ensembles and renowned for its versatility, the orchestra annually presents a broad program ranging from classical music concerts to contemporary genres, film scores, jazz and musicals. Since 2005, the Czech National Symphony Orchestra has also organized the summer Prague Proms Festival, which with its impressive array of prominent international performers, appeals to a diverse audience year in year out.
Composers, conductors, and performers such as Ennio Morricone, Lalo Schifrin, James Morrison, Branford & Wynton Marsalis, Pino Donnagio, Giuliano Taviani, José Carreras, Danny Elfman, Vince Men-doza, Giuseppe Tornatore, Carl Davis, Steven Mercurio, Marcello Rota, Christian Lindberg, Chick Corea, Vladimir Cosma repeatedly come back to Prague to either record with the orchestra or perform in the beautiful Smetana Hall at Prague’s Municipal House, the home concert stage of the orchestra. Highlights from recent concert seasons include a European tour with the legendary Ennio Morricone, and a Prague concert with Anna Netrebko.
Meanwhile in the studio the orchestra worked on recording Plácido Domingo and Vittorio Grigolo’s new Christmas album, also collaborating with Ennio Morricone on his score for the new western film The Hateful Eight directed by Quentin Tarantino. Ennio Morricone then went on to win an Oscar after 500 movie credits! The soundtrack was recorded live and launched by Tarantino, Morricone, and the CNSO at Abbey Road Studios in December 2015. Following on from the collaboration with Columbia Artists Management Inc., the orchestra toured the USA in February and March 2016. In 2017, the orchestra toured extensively with Ennio Morricone and James Newton Howard.
The CNSO has also renewed its longstanding cooperation with Andrea Bocelli, plus accompanied Ro-lando Villazon and Jonas Kaufmann. The orchestra has collaborated with some of the most prominent pop artists, such as Sting, George Michael, Natalie Cole, Dianne Reeves, Angélique Kidjo, Denise Donatelli, Ute Lemper, and great instrumentalists, such as James Morrison, Branford & Wynton Marsalis, Bobby Shew, Joe Lovano, John Abercrombie, John Patitucci, Dave Weckl, Chick Corea and many more.
Successful tours have taken place over the British Isles, USA, Canada, France, Spain, Dubai, Japan, Mexico, China, Korea, Oman, Australia, and New Zealand. The Czech National Symphony Orchestra’s re-cordings go on sale worldwide, and the orchestra takes pride in having produced a number of Gold CDs (for more than 30 000 copies sold). Other accolades include the Gustav Mahler Prize, awarded for the interpretation of Mahler’s works, and the prestigious contract the orchestra signed with IMG Artists London and Columbia Artists New York. Achievements also include a long-standing recording project in association with Tokyo-based media company Victor Entertainment.
The Czech National Symphony Orchestra was set up in 1993 by trumpet player Jan Hasenöhrl along with the legendary conductor Zdeněk Košler.
Steven Mercurio (biography)
Maestro Steven Mercurio is an internationally acclaimed conductor and composer whose musical versatility encompasses the symphonic and operatic worlds. After receiving his Masters degree from the Juilliard School, he lived in Italy for a year and composed “For Lost Loved Ones,” a large-scale symphonic tone poem premiered by the New York Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta conducting. From 1985 through 1988, he was Assistant and then Associate Conductor for the Brooklyn Philharmonic under Lukas Foss. From 1987 through 1991 he was Assistant Conductor for the Metropolitan Opera. From 1988 to 1991 he was the Assistant Composer in Residence for the New York Philharmonic. He was Principal Conductor for the Opera Company of Philadelphia from 1990 through 1997 and simultaneously, from 1993 to 1997 became Music Director of the Spoleto Festival working alongside Gian Carlo Menotti. Following in the footsteps of his teacher, Leonard Bernstein, Maestro Mercurio is a conductor and a composer that believes in creating an inclusive musical environment, stressing music education and community involvement. His versatility has made him a sought after collaborator for many award winning recordings, arrangements and film projects.
For the stage, he has conducted more than fifty different operas in seven different languages. His engagements have taken him to many of the world’s best loved opera houses including the Teatro dell’Opera, Roma; Teatro Bellini, Catania; Teatro Filarmonico, Verona; Teatro Reggio, Torino; Teatro Verdi, Trieste; Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels, Bonn Opera, Teatro Massimo, Palermo, English National Opera as well as the American opera companies of San Francisco, Washington, Philadelphia, Seattle, Detroit, Opera Pacific, Florida Grand, Pittsburgh, Dallas and Cincinnati.
In addition to Maestro Mercurio’s operatic repertoire, his symphonic appearances have included: the London Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta, the Royal Philharmonic, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Luxembourg, Prague Philharmonia, Czech Ntaional Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, Seoul Philharmonic, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and the Sacramento and San Diego Symphony Orchestras in addition to his own Spoleto Festival Orchestra.
Robert McDuffie (biography)
Grammy-nominated violinist, Robert McDuffie, enjoys a dynamic and multi-faceted career. While appearing as soloist with the world’s foremost orchestras, he has also shared the stage with Chuck Leavell and the late Gregg Allman in Midnight Rider and with actress/playwright Anna Deavere Smith in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail. Philip Glass dedicated his Second Violin Concerto, The American Four Seasons, to Mr. McDuffie. Mike Mills of the iconic band R.E.M. has composed a Concerto for Violin, Rock Band, and String Orchestra for him. Robert McDuffie is the founder of both the Rome Chamber Music Festival in Italy and the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in his native city of Macon, Georgia. Mr. McDuffie holds the Robert McDuffie Violin Faculty Chair at the Aspen Music Festival and School.
Robert McDuffie has appeared as soloist with most of the major orchestras of the world. He gave the world premiere of Philip Glass’ Violin Concerto No. 2, The American Four Seasons with the Toronto Symphony and completed a thirty-city U.S. tour with the Venice Baroque Orchestra, pairing the Glass Four Seasons with the Vivaldi Four Seasons. The Mills Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra was also premiered with the Toronto Symphony, followed by performances at the Rome Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Music Festival, and a three-week tour of the U.S..
Robert McDuffie recorded The American Four Seasons with the London Philharmonic and Marin Alsop on Philip Glass’ Orange Mountain Music label. The Mike Mills Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra is also on the Orange Mountain Music label. His acclaimed Telarc and EMI recordings include the violin concertos of Mendelssohn, Bruch, Adams, Glass, Barber, Rózsa, Bernstein, William Schuman, and Viennese violin favorites. He has been profiled on NBC’s Today, CBS Sunday Morning, PBS’s Charlie Rose, A&E’s Breakfast with the Arts, and in the Wall Street Journal.
In 2017, he toured the U.S. with the Bruckner Orchestra Linz, alternating the Barber Violin Concerto with the Glass Violin Concerto No.1. He returned to the Aspen Music Festival. Recent performances include first appearances in Auckland, New Zealand; the Orchestre National de Lille; the Bernstein Serenade with the Atlanta, Hawaii, and Virginia Symphonies; the Mills Concerto for Violin, Rock Band and String Orchestra with the Naples and Buffalo Symphonies; and the Glass Four Seasons along with the Mills Concerto with the Fort Worth Symphony.
As founder of the Rome Chamber Music Festival, Robert McDuffie has been awarded the prestigious Premio Simpatia by the Mayor of Rome in recognition of his contribution to the city’s cultural life. He is also the founder of the Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University in his hometown of Macon, Georgia, where he holds the Genelle and Mansfield Jennings Distinguished University Professor Chair. He plays a 1735 Guarneri del Gesù violin, known as the “Ladenburg”. The instrument is owned by a limited partnership formed by Mr. McDuffie. He lives in New York City.
WMHT (ALBANY/SCHENECTADY/TROY NPR AFFILIATE) Interview with Robert McDuffie
"A versatile Czech orchestra shows itself at home in Carnegie Hall" - NY Classical Review
Interview with Violinist Robert McDuffie: Brahms and Beyond
The Violin Podcast Interview with Robert McDuffie