The Kühn Choir of Prague is one of the largest Czech choirs and has been part of the musical world for over 60 years. It devotes itself to the choral repertoire of all periods, and its activities include significant performances of contemporary music, performances of large vocal-instrumental works in collaboration with leading Czech orchestras and, last but not least, projects for the performance and recording of film music.
The choir takes its name from Pavel Kühn (1938–2003), an outstanding figure of the Czech choral tradition, who founded the ensemble in 1959.
The choir gradually established itself in concert halls and recording studios as a top ensemble focusing on a cappella works of Romanticism and on oratorio and cantata repertoire, which it has performed and continues to perform primarily in close cooperation with the Prague Symphony Orchestra FOK and its conductors (V. Smetáček, Z. Košler, Z. Mácal, J. Bělohlávek, V. Válek, P. Altrichter, L. Pešek, M. Turnovský, S. Baudo and G. Delogu). The ensemble has also partnered with other prestigious symphonic ensembles, both domestic (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 foreign (Concertgebouw Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchester Zürich, Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, etc.).
In the 1980s the choir was invited to join several projects of the Nederlands Dans Theater, participating in performances by choreographer Jiří Kylián with music by I. Stravinsky, M. Ravel, L. Janáček, B. Martinů and P. Eben. The choir boasts a number of outstanding recordings spanning all style periods. These include the complete choral works of B. Martinů, the complete recording of Fibich’s Hippodamia trilogy, and Luboš Fišer’s opera Lancelot, among others.
The choir’s core activities have always included the recording of film music (e.g. Miloš Forman: The People vs. Larry Flynt or the music of Zdeněk Liška).
In 2009, the choir took part in the extensive two-year project Martinů Revisited, performing Bohuslav Martinů’s “Polička” cantatas at the Prague Spring Festival. A few months later, his Field Mass was performed at the festival Smetana´s Litomyšl.
Since 2014 the choir has been collaborating with the National Theatre Opera (D. Shostakovich: Orango, Antiforamlisticheskiy rajok, Michael Gordon/David Lang/Julia Wolfe: Lost Objects, B. Smetana: Libuše, G. Puccini: Turandot).
A distinctive feature of the choir is its association with contemporary composers. At its very first concert in 1959, the choir premiered Bohuslav Martinů’s cantata Mikesh from the Mountains, which the composer dedicated to the ensemble. Performing new music has always been one of the choir’s primary domains; since its inception, the ensemble has inspired the creation of many works by contemporary composers (Jan Novák, Václav Trojan, Luboš Fišer, Miloš Bok, Zdeněk Lukáš, Karel Růžička, Miloš Orson Štědroň, Jan Ryant Dřízal, Jakub Dvořáček, etc.).
The choir is an active organizer and initiator of its own cultural events and thematic projects. These include an annual choral concert series that has run since 2009, and the Let’s Sing and Platform for Singing projects supported by Norwegian funds.
Currently, the chief choirmaster is Jaroslav Brych; the deputy choirmaster is Lenka Navrátilová.