Uniquely among the Czech Republic's top orchestras, the Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra is located not in Prague but in the northeastern Czech city of Ostrava. Its Czech name, in fact, is the Janackova Filharmonie Ostrava. Despite its regional origins, the orchestra has been somewhat oriented toward the West, especially since the fall of Communism; it has programmed much Western contemporary music and toured the U.S. multiple times. The Janácek Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1954, with Otakar Parik as its first conductor. The orchestra was led from 2005 to 2014 by the Ukrainian-American Theodore Kuchar, who opened additional doors for the group in the U.S. Since 2014, its chief conductor has been Heiko Mathias Förster, and its artistic director Jan Zemla. The orchestra quickly gained a reputation even west of the Iron Curtain, ...
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