The Brno Contemporary Orchestra (BCO) was founded in 2011 with the aim of performing the world’s contemporary music and selected 20th-century works in Czechia and Czech music throughout the world.
The ensemble includes top-level professional musicians employed in the leading Czech orchestras. It draws on a large pool of permanent collaborators who perform in various lineups according to the needs of each project.
The ensemble has performed to great acclaim at many festivals at home and abroad. In addition to repeated appearances at festivals in Krakow and Malta, the BCO regularly performs at major Czech festivals, including Moravian Autumn, Janáček Brno and the Hradec Králové Forum. Many of their concerts have been recorded by Czech Radio. During the coronavirus crisis in spring 2020, the orchestra gave the first ever Prague Spring concert that was not performed in the city. This was a stream of a BCO performance in the foyer of the Janáček Theatre in Brno, which included the world premiere of a piece by Jan Ryant Dřízal. The BCO has commissioned numerous new works, pitting them in its programs against well-established 20th and 21st-century works as well as less known or somewhat forgotten recent works, as this is an important aspect of its programming concept.
Many celebrated soloists have appeared alongside the BCO, including the violinist Milan Paľa, the soprano Irena Troupová, the pianist Nikol Bóková, the percussionist Colin Currie, and the oboist Vilém Veverka.
Since its foundation, the orchestra has established itself thanks to its carefully thought-out programming, which puts the musical works in the context of other kinds of art, be it architecture, literature, the visual arts, film, or dance. Linked with this are the commissions of new works that are tailor-made for the orchestra by contemporary composers at home and abroad. Viktor Pantůček, the musicologist, is the programmer and is responsible for the overall concept, while Pavel Šnajdr is the founder, artistic director, and conductor of the ensemble.
Pavel Šnajdr, conductor
Pavel Šnajdr is a Czech conductor and composer. He is a graduate of the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts (JAMU), Brno in composition (which he studied with Alois Piňos) and conducting (with Emil Skoták). Beyond working with symphony orchestras, he has been engaged by music theatres including the J.K. Tyl Theatre in Pilsen, the Prague State Opera and the Moravian Theatre in Olomouc, and currently conducts opera at the National Theatre in Brno. As a graduate in the discipline, he still feels some responsibility for composition, and perhaps this is the source of his interest in contemporary music and its performance. While still a student at JAMU, he collaborated with Ars Incognita, an ensemble that played contemporary music. After his stint in Pilsen, he decided to take a step into the unknown – he approached a few musicians and together they founded the BCO. You can judge the results for yourself by listening to this recording.