Prague born František Brikcius a cellist since early childhood studying in Prague Conservatoire, Janáček Academy of Music (JAMU), Japan and in Leeds under the legendary cellist Prof. Anna Shuttleworth (student of Pablo Casals) at Leeds University František. He will be playing pieces by Bach, James Simon, Irena Kosíková & Fred Katz when he plays at the cathedral in October. We spoke to him ahead of the concert to find out more.
Could you give us an introduction to your musical background?
I have been playing the cello since early childhood. Following my cello studies at the Prague Conservatoire, I completed my Master’s degree at the Janáček Academy of Music (JAMU) in the Czech republic. I furthered my cello skills at the Toho Gakuen Academy in Japan and later under the guidance of legendary cellist Prof. Anna Shuttleworth (student of Pablo Casals) in the United Kingdom (Eton Cello Master Classes and the University of Leeds).
You have performed all over the world; have there been any particular highlights from the places you’ve played?
It’s not really about the places, it’s more about the people. As a musician, I feel responsibility to play the music I like, music that without our intervention will be forgotten, to prepare specific dramaturgy, to support the creation of new music, and to bring joy to people.
Could you tell us about the pieces you’ll be playing at our coffee concert, and why you chose those particular pieces?
I’ll be performing at the Bradford Cathedral four different composers. Suite Nr. 5 for Solo Cello in C minor, BWV 1011 by German baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750). This year we commemorate his 334th anniversary of the birth. It will be followed by three Bradford premieres: Arioso for Solo Cello (21/22 Mai ‘29) by Terezín “Lost Composer” James Simon (1880 – 1944), then “Veselka” for Solo Cello (2018) by Czech composer and organist Irena Kosíková (she is residing in France) and then finally “The Soldier Puppet”, an anti-Vietnam war solo cello piece, by American jazz cellist and composer Fred Katz (1919 – 2013), to commemorate his Centenary – #KATZ100.
You play a cello from 1904. What is like to play that particular instrument?
It’s always a pleasure.
You are the artistic director of your own concert series in Prague; is that exciting to be involved in?
Sure, it gives you a “carte blanche” in terms of dramaturgy – cello repertoire. My favourites are cello suites by Johann Sebastian Bach, Max Reger, Ernest Bloch and Benjamin Britten. I’m particularly involved in researching, studying and performing works by Czech (Antonín Dvořák, Leoš Janáček, Bohuslav Martinů, Josef Suk and Irena Kosíková), Jewish & Terezín (Gideon Klein, Erwin Schulhoff, Zikmund Schul, Jaromír Weinberger, James Simon and David Popper) and contemporary composers (Conrad Beck, Luciano Berio, Pierre Boulez, Benjamin Britten, Henri Dutilleux, Wolfgang Fortner, Alberto Ginastera, Cristobal Halffter, Hans Werner Henze, Heinz Holliger, Klaus Huber and Witold Lutoslawski),
You created your first documentary film in 2015. What was that like to create?
The main elements of our music documentary film MAKANNA were already created by writer Jiri Weil and by composer Irena Kosikova. The concert premiere was in co-operation with the Jewish Museum in Prague and under the auspices of Sir Tom Stoppard and late Václav Havel. The film was already screened in he Czech republic, China, Mexico and Portugal. The UK premiere will be held in London on Wednesday 16th October 2019 as part of the WALTHAM FOREST CELLO FEST 2019 – “London Borough of Culture meets Classical Music”.
You also perform as a duo with your sister Anna. Do you enjoy performing with her, and with the combination of two cellos?
My sister Anna Brikciusová is a fantastic cellist and a great poet. There is a great deal about the sound and colour of two cellos, the enormous cello range, wonderful repertoire—and two cellos are fun to play and travel with. Actually, as you can see from our repertoire, the two cellos combination has been known for centuries, since the very beginning of cello existence. Simply the combination of two cellos is one of the best.
You are on the jury for the 3rd Berliner International Music Competition. Has this been interesting to be involved in?
Sure, it’s a great opportunity to hear new cello talents. And a lot of responsibility at the same time.
Finally, what are your plans for 2020?
A few new cello projects, but I’d rather not talk about them yet!
You can hear František Brikcius at Bradford Cathedral on Tuesday 8th October from 11am as part of the Coffee Concert series. Coffee and cake will be available from 10:30am.