recently: JFO performed at the Prague Spring festival, which
was one of my key targets as JFO CEO. We are preparing a tour
with singer Tomáš Klus and concerts with many leading world
artists. Of course, many of them will take us to very special
places. Our recent destinations included Bilbao in Spain whose
atmosphere and omnipresent arts left me with unforgettable
I am looking forward to the tour in November 2018. The
destination is “only” Poland but we will play in a few new
concert halls built recently in this promised land of culture;,
and I am really curious what the acoustic confrontation will
be. We will also play with Lukáš Vondráček, one of the most
remarkable pianists of our time, in Bratislava in early October.
Those will undoubtedly be outstanding concerts. We regularly
play in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, and in Asia we often go
to China and Korea. I want to bring Japan to our international
portfolio. Other places of my managerial interest include
Scandinavian countries and Russia, targets which orchestras
typically do not aim at very often.
My dream came true quite recently: JFO
the Prague Spring festival.
The effects of classical music grow stronger with the place
where it is played. Music and architecture often interconnect
in the genius loci. JFO deserves a new concert hall, do you
Definitely yes. Ostrava is the third largest city in the Czech
Republic, an important centre of culture, a very specific hub.
Local live arts flourish. 65 years of JFO tradition proves that
Ostrava has a sound position in the map of European culture.
Good quality concert halls have become a standard feature in
cities of similar size in Poland where over dozen concert halls
have been built recently. A concert hall is a public building of
great significance. A building open to public, providing service
to inhabitants of the city, helping to define the city itself. It is
not a room for a limited number of keen musicians providing
them with a place for work. It is not like that. Of course, a
good concert hall with perfect acoustics will help the orchestra
develop and attract more international artists who otherwise
would not come to Ostrava at all. Moreover, such a hall would
not only serve the JFO. There is the International Music Festival
of Leoš Janáček (former Janáček May), Ostravian Days of
New Music, and more. I recommend everybody go and see
the new NOSPR building in Katowice, Poland to understand
better what we want for Ostrava. A recently announced tender
(the third attempt since 1969), however, brings hope that the
construction of the hall will actually come true.
Then there are some particulars at the very edge of obsession:
recently I have become enthusiastic about what is going on in
Czech fine arts. I also do sports: both for fun and to keep fit,
healthy (and sane). My most recent joy is Austrian via ferratas.
I enjoy following Marvel Studios productions with my son.
I used to have a classic motorbike. That is me in brief.
By the way, does JFO have a fan club?
I would not call it a fan club but we do have our true fans, a group
that keeps growing. I believe people have learnt to understand
that the arts in their lives are of increasing importance. I feel
that concert-going is a trend again. Good quality performances
should become a standard ingredient in our social lives. And
I can tell they are closely related to business: do you want to
impress your business partners, or just hold an informal smart
meeting? Take them to a classical music concert.
You came to Ostrava from Brno. What have you found
attractive in Ostrava and the region?
When I decided to work in Ostrava, it was nearly a foreign
city to me. And a challenge. Even though I work in a position
which makes me feel at home, I am in a new environment.
I was looking forward to working in Ostrava and was curious
which direction my job would go. Six years later I still feel that
energy and drive at work. Basically, Ostrava has been a lovely
surprise. The key factor is the people around me, the close and
wide circles. I feel very lucky in this: I meet people who are
nice and easy to work with, to help create something together,
to grow and to make visions come true. Ostrava enables me
to achieve that and I am very grateful for the opportunity. The
region is closely connected to Leoš Janáček in my mind, that is
Thank you very much for the interview.
Editorial of Magazine.
Good quality concert halls have
become a standard
feature in cities
My idea of a manager of a great philharmonic orchestra is a
gentleman wearing tails. Who is Mr Žemla outside his job,
what are his personal interests and desires?
I think I am an ordinary person with normal interests, it is only
my good luck in life that my hobby, music, is my profession. It
fills up most of my life. I live with my family in a village 35 km
north of Brno, in a house which also requires some care and
attention. Looking after the house is another hobby of mine.
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