music at its best
MA Jan Žemla, CEO of the Janáček Philharmonic
Ostrava (JFO), was born in 1981 in Brno, and lives
in South Moravia. He graduated from Masaryk
University in Brno (Master of Arts in Music Theory)
and since 2007 he has been the Programme Manager
of Brno Philharmonic. Mr Žemla was appointed CEO
of the Janáček Philharmonic Ostrava in 2012. He
is a member of the Artistic Board of the Faculty of
Arts at the University of Ostrava and the Artistic
Board of the Brno International Music Festival. He
is a member of the core team preparing construction
of the new concert hall in Ostrava, and has recently
been appointed as a member and Chairman of the
Managing Board of the Cultural Centre, Dům kultury
Are you more of a musician or a manager? How does it feel
to manage such a great orchestra?
I would love to say that I am definitely a musician, yet my
current job is mostly managerial. I am a manager in a very
special field in which I am well qualified. Basically all my
managerial activities are closely related to arts, and the result
is an art form, a concert in our case. Art and music in their
best form and performance possible is my main managerial
Managing an orchestra is a very fulfilling, and meaningful
responsibility. From time to time it just gets to be routine,, but
occasionally it’s a bit uncomfortable, especially when I have
to make compromising decisions not fully corresponding with
my point of view. Fortunately, this does not happen often.
Being the orchestra CEO is being a diplomat, a psychologist,
a good economist in a business, and of course, a master in
some social intelligence, making everybody understand that
what we do makes real sense. Despite working in the sphere
of the arts, I still try to keepa down-to-earth attitude. Again,
let me stress that I cannot imagine anybody doing this job
without a proper education in the field.
Being the orchestra CEO is being
a diplomat, a psychologist.
Our magazine aims at an international audience, and
because JFO is one of the best exports of the city and our
54 ǀ POSITIV 3/2018
region, please, describe what you offer to foreigners in our
region and abroad.
Summarized briefly, we deliver quality which can be found
at the greatest international stages. I often see that Janáček
Philharmony Ostrava stands comparison with world famous
orchestras. JFO has an artistic potential which (supported
by time invested in preparation of individual projects, and
developed by a conductor who shapes the music with their
own idea and form) often brings the most extraordinary
experience. We also introduce guest artists who now
perform in Ostrava as well as in Prague, Vienna or London
equally often. In my opinion, going to a concert of JFO has
already become an exclusive experience. Artists like Nikolaj
Luganskij, Federico Colli and Danjulo Ishizaka are leaders
in their field. Sports fans are excited when star athletes like
Usain Bolt come to our city, music fans can meet artists of
such a high rank twice a month, not only once a year.
In my opinion, going to a concert of JFO
has already become
an exclusive experience.
Which unusual locations have you played recently, and
where would you like to go next?
JFO has already played on everty continent, the orchestra
travels abroad on a regular basis, and often plays at festivals
primarily focused on different genres, such as Colours of
Ostrava, Štěrkovna Open Music. My dream came true quite