UF sounds with international symphony and top students


Published: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 9:34 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.
Altrichter The array of orchestra activity continues this week, this time at the international level with the Prague Symphony Wednesday at the Phillips Center.
With the variety of visiting ensembles the UF Performing Arts program brings in each season, it's easy to lose track of which ones have been here before. In fact, you may think this is the Czech group that teamed up with the Beaux Arts Trio in Beethoven's Triple Concerto here in 2001 - but no.
That was the Prague Chamber Orchestra. So we'd better fill you in on this one. The Prague Symphony Orchestra was established in 1934 under the name FOK (Film-Opera-Koncert) Orchestra. It was designated the city's official ensemble in 1952, and its name ballooned to the Symphony Orchestra of the Capital City of Prague - FOK. The original name is still retained in the orchestra's Web site: www.fok.cz.
The orchestra's principal conductor since 1990 has been Petr Altrichter, who also holds similar posts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Sudwestdeutsche Philharmonie in Konstanz, Germany.
Touring abroad has been an essential part of the group's activities since being named as Prague's representative concert ensemble. Its current U.S. tour, however, is a humdinger: 48 cities, nine of them in Florida, in just over two months. It will span from New York City to Los Angeles.
Wednesday's program is a pleasing collection of what must be regarded as classical favorites. Prague's native son, Antonin Dvorak, is given a nod with his evergreen "Carnival" overture. From the pen of Mozart comes the Symphony No. 38, nicknamed the "Prague" for its world premiere in that city in 1787.
Completing the concert is Beethoven's bucolic masterpiece, his Symphony No. 6, "Pastoral." This one, for some of us, was the linchpin for Walt Disney's 1940 animated movie, "Fantasia."
Appealing as that line-up is, it is among three or four programs presented on this tour. The Prague Symphony's Jan. 29 appearance at the University of Georgia in Athens, for instance, will feature an all-Brahms performance.
Of particular interest would have been the Dvorak Sixth Symphony already performed at other Florida locations. If there's such a thing as a neglected masterwork, this one is it.
Wednesday's concert starts at 7:30 p.m., with a pre-performance discussion at 6:45 p.m.
n n n For the past 30 years, the Friends of Music organization has served as a support group for the University of Florida School of Music, mainly by raising funds for scholarships. Contributions also can go to improving performance facilities on campus, and a lot of that activity is forthcoming, beginning with the George Steinbrenner Band Hall and continuing, hopefully, with a new recital hall and a complete renovation of the School of Music facility.
In the meantime, you can sample some of the yield from previous donations, as the annual Scholarship Gala Concert strikes up on Sunday. Featuring several scholarship students, this free program starts at 4 p.m. in University Auditorium.
For more information, call the UF School of Music at 392-0223.
David Grundy can be reached at dmgrundy@aol.com.
Its current U.S. tour, however, is a humdinger: 48 cities, nine of them in Florida, in just over two months. It will span from New York City to L.A.

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