On Monday 10 May, Semyon Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic will perform to a tested audience of 350 at the Rudolfinum in Prague. Supported by the Ministry of Culture, the concert marks the Czech Republic’s first cultural event with a live audience since the autumn. The gala concert featuring music by Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, Marcello, Saint-Saëns and Bizet is in honour of the 125th anniversary of ŠKODA, one of the Orchestra’s main corporate sponsors for over twenty years.
Alongside ŠKODA representatives and their guests, members of the Czech Philharmonic’s loyal subscriber base will be sat in distanced bubbles throughout the Rudolfinum’s Dvořák Hall. The 350 audience members – making up one third of the hall’s total capacity – will take a PCR test before the concert and be required to wear masks during the performance. The testing for this pilot project is organized in collaboration with the Czech Savings Bank and the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine at Olomouc’s Palacký University.
Despite ongoing uncertainties and restrictions, the Czech Philharmonic have continued making music throughout the pandemic, both with and without live audiences. The combination of flexible artistic programming, rigorous testing and the state-of-the-art 4K equipped Studio Rudolfinum – the audio-visual branch of Czech Phil Media set up in 2018 – has allowed the Orchestra to stream 17 concerts, reaching audiences of more than 800,000 on Czech TV and 1.9 million via Facebook and YouTube. On 10 May, in addition to the 350 lucky audience members inside Dvořák Hall, national and international audiences will be able to enjoy the concert via the live broadcast and streams on Czech TV and the Orchestra’s social media pages.
The belief in music’s power to change lives has always been a fundamental tenant of the Czech Philharmonic philosophy, and of the 17 streamed concerts presented during lockdown, five were benefit concerts which raised close to £400,000 in support of hospitals, charities and health care professionals. The concert on 10 May will be the Czech Philharmonic’s sixth, raising funds for the Via Foundation to support the families of social workers who died of covid-19 in the line of work. A starting figure of 1 million Czech korunas (just over £33,000) has already been committed by ŠKODA.
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