Czech conductor Jiří Skopal has been teaching and leading choirs for more than 40 years. He has led choirs to international acclaim, one of the most notable being the Jitro Czech Girls Choir with whom he has performed around the world and participated in major global competitions. Jitro, whose name translates to “daybreak,” has been admired all over the world for their tonal brilliance, superb intonation, distinctive rich blend of sound, and energetic vitality.

Today, Jiří is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. In this interview, find out how a cigarette created one of the choir’s most unusual performance moments…

Who was your first favorite artist growing up?

My father.

When did you realize that you wanted to be an artist?

I realized I wanted to pursue music when I was studying at university.

What was your most unusual performance, or the most embarrassing thing that happened to you during a performance?

At one of our 300 concerts in the USA, a fire alarm went off and all the people from the audience were running away using all the exits from the concert hall, while the Jitro choir continued singing the last piece of music, ´Beautiful America,´ right to the end. The concert hall was nearly empty, so I gave a signal to all the girls from the choir to go to the designated place near the concert building. A few minutes later, the organizers announced that the fire alarm had been set off by a cigarette from a backstage staff. Jitro had reacted to my instructions – whenever we sing anything, we must always finish the piece of music, regardless of any catastrophe, such as a power cut, no lights switched on, etc.

If you could conduct any artist or ensemble, who would you choose?

I would always choose the Jitro choir.

If you could make a living at any job in the world, what would that job be?

If I weren’t a musician, I would like to be a farmer, a forester, a mountain guide, or a gold-digger.

If you could spend creative time anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

I would always choose to be at home. That´s where I feel the best with my choir.

If you could instantly have expertise performing one instrument, what instrument would that be?

The violin.

What was your favorite musical moment on the album?

Hoj, hura, hoj and Ta Moravská brána.

What does this album mean to you personally?

I will never forget meeting the amazing composer who wrote the works on this album.

Is there a specific feeling that you would like communicated to audiences in this work?

Yes: children can achieve incredible things!


HYMNUS is now available through Navona Records for streaming or purchase. Click here to explore this new album.