Kühn Choir of Prague

About Us   |   Choirmasters   |   Pavel Kühn, founder of the choir

The Kühn Choir of Prague has been part of the classical music scene for the past fifty years. It was established in 1959 when male voices were incorporated into what was originally a female chamber choir, set up in 1958 by Pavel Kühn (1938-2003) while he was still a student of Prague’s Academy of Music. In this way he was continuing the work of his parents, choirmasters Markéta and Jan Kühn. Bohuslav Martinů wrote the cantata Mikeš of the Mountains for the first concert performed by the newly established choir.

The choir gradually became a pioneer in the performance of a cappella works of world Romanticism, both on the concert platform and in recording studios (Brahms, Schumann, Bruckner, R. Strauss, Reger, among others). Apart from winning various international choral competitions – e.g. in Italy and Hungary – the choir also demonstrated its high standard of performance in the oratorio and cantata repertoires, which it developed chiefly in close collaboration with the Prague Symphony Orchestra and its conductors Václav Smetáček, Zdeněk Košler, Zdeněk Mácal, Jiří Bělohlávek, Vladimír Válek, Petr Altrichter, Libor Pešek, Martin Turnovský, Serge Baudo and Gaetano Delogu. The choir has also partnered other prestigious orchestras, both at home (the Czech Philharmonic, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Prague Philharmonia, under conductors Sir Charles Mackerras, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Zubin Mehta, David Zinman and Elli Jaffe) and abroad (Concertgebouworkest, Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich, Israel Philharmonic, among others). During the 1980s the choir was asked to take part in several projects conceived by the Nederlands Dans Theater, and was involved in productions created by choreographer Jiří Kylián featuring the music of Stravinsky, Ravel, Janáček, Martinů and Eben.

An equally important role for the choir was its participation in recordings of film music (e.g. Miloš Forman’s The People vs. Larry Flint or music by Zdeněk Liška) and opera (e.g. Luboš Fišer’s Lancelot). The performance of brand new works has always been a natural part of the choir’s activities; ever since it was founded, the choir has inspired a number of works by contemporary composers and boasts a series of fine recordings from all stylistic periods (including the complete choral oeuvre of Bohuslav Martinů and a comprehensive recording of Fibich’s Hippodamia trilogy). Three composers, in particular, have become major names following years of collaboration with the choir – Jan Novák, Václav Trojan and Luboš Fišer.

In 2009 the choir was involved in the extensive two-year project Martinů Revisited, performing the Polička cantatas at the Prague Spring festival. A few months later they presented the composer’s Field Mass at the festival Smetana’s Litomyšl. The choir has been working with the National Theatre Opera since 2014. The Kühn Choir of Prague is a leading choral ensemble, appearing at important Czech festivals and collaborating with prominent music ensembles and orchestras.

The choir’s founder, Pavel Kühn, who had a profound influence on choral singing and the development of its ideal tone colour, worked with the ensemble continually for nearly forty-five years until his untimely death. The role of choirmaster was subsequently taken up by Jan Rozehnal who headed the choir for almost four concert seasons (2003-06). The choir is currently led by Marek Vorlíček. Under his direction the ensemble has also been organising its own series of choral concerts at the Czech Museum of Music since 2009. The Kühn Choir of Prague appointed Lenka Navrátilová as second choirmaster in 2014.

During the years 2015-2016 the choir was involved in its own successful socio-cultural project entitled “Let’s Sing”, which was supported by Norway Grants. The choir organised a series of workshops and concerts during this period, performing the world premieres of works by contemporary Czech and Norwegian composers.

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