Jitro, meaning “Daybreak” in Czech, is more than just a concert choir from Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. It is an organization of 400 children in seven preparatory ensembles, of which only the best 25 or 30 qualify to tour. For the past 45 years they have been admired all over the world for their tonal brilliance, superb intonation, distinctively rich blend of sound, and energetic vitality. Today, Jitro is considered one of the best children’s choirs in the world. To date they have participated in 18 international competitions and won 38 categories. These awards have been bestowed on the choir by international juries, including at prestigious European contests such as Llangollen (1988), Nantes (1989), Neerpelt (1996), Olomouc (2003), Xiamen (2006), Lecco (2010), Pardubice (2015), Žilina (2017), and Sydney (2018).
America’s love of Jitro was re-born when the choir was invited to sing at the National Convention of the American Choral Conductors Association in San Antonio TX in 1993, where they received standing ovations from thousands of professional American conductors. An official response from Dr. J. B. Haberlen, ACDA President stated: “Our ACDA members will long remember your concerts, as they were a major highlight of the 1993 convention.” Professor Doreen Rao of Toronto University commented, “Are you aware that you have just changed forever the character and style of all American choral singing?”
Jitro makes over 100 appearances annually and has sung with other renowned choirs such as the American Boys’ Choir. Jitro has performed with the Bavarian Symphonic Orchestra, the Milano Symphonic Orchestra, the Prague Symphony Orchestra, and the Czech Philharmonic. They have performed in prestigious concert halls in Prague, Barcelona, Hale, Bern, Basle, Dortmund, Avignon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Austin, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta, Nashville, Indianapolis, Madison, Chicago, Penn State University, New York City, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Corpus Christi, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Xiamen, Sydney, and many more. Jitro’s classical discography includes 37 solo Jitro albums. They have recorded with various companies like Supraphon, BMA, Classico, Amabile, ArcoDiva, and Navona Records. Their recent discography contains a special edition of albums devoted to famous composers associated with the choir: Antonín Dvořák, Bohuslav Martinů, Otmar Mácha, Petr Eben, Ilja Hurník, and Jan Jirásek. Since 1977, Jiří Skopal has led the choir as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor, winning high praise for his brilliant leadership. Superb playing by organist František Vaníček and pianist Michal Chrobák adds luster to the choir’s remarkable performances. Noting that “jitro” means “daybreak” in Czech, BBC Music Magazine deemed this an apt description for the chorus’ “bright, gleaming” performances, which are “indeed like brilliant rays of sunshine slicing through the darkness.”