Czech Philharmonic benefit concert raised over CZK 7 million for hospitals

The Czech Philharmonic organized a benefit concert for hospitals in Prague and Brno to help doctors, nurses and other staff care for coronavirus patients. Via Foundation held a public charity collection. Donors sent in CZK 7.3 million ($285,980) in just one week. 

At first, we all watched the spread of coronavirus from afar and hoped it would soon pass without becoming too serious. At the end of February, in early March, we were still looking forward to Head Conductor Semyon Bychkov’s Prague premiere of the Requiem for Hieronymus Bosch by Detlev Glanert and to Jakub Hrůša as the key guest for Janáček’s opera Káťa Kabanová. But just a few days later all of our plans, which had been years in the making, had turned to dust. We had to cancel our concerts – and we began thinking about how and whom we could help, especially when we  had experienced such an incredible show of solidarity from our listeners, who refused to return their tickets to help us cover our losses,” says David Mareček, Executive Director of the Czech Philharmonic.

The Czech Philharmonic teamed up with Czech TV and Česká spořitelna bank to conceive a benefit concert that could be performed even under the strictest safety recommendations. The “Helping hospitals with the Czech Philharmonic” concert featured unique renditions of some of the most famous Czech compositions: instead of the full orchestra, solo and chamber ensembles played to an otherwise empty concert hall. Smetana’s Moldau was performed as a harp solo by Jana Boušková. Violinists Josef Špaček, Jiří Vodička and Václav Petr were accompanied by pianists Martin Kasík, Miroslav Sekera and David Mareček and the finale presented the Lobkowicz trio, composed of violinist Jan Mráček, cellist Ivan Vokáč and pianist Lukáš Klánský. The program was comprised of works by Bedřich Smetana and Antonín Dvořák along with one work by Johann Sebastian Bach. Jiří Vejvoda moderated the concert.

Via Foundation organized a public charity collection which enabled donors to send gifts of any amount during the concert by electronic bank transfer, DMS or online at The proceeds were divided between five hospitals: the Motol University Hospital, the Na Bulovce Hospital, the Na Homolce Hospital, the Brno University Hospital and the St. Anna University Hospital in Brno. The hospitals will use the funds to buy protective suits, surgical gowns, gloves, disinfectants, PCR tests, cyclers, ventilators, suction pumps, ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation), vital function monitor modules, transport bio-bags, devices to disinfect enclosed areas, etc.

Strict hygienic restrictions were maintained during the concert rehearsals and performance to keep all of the participants safe. Everyone wore protective face masks (which meant that wind instruments had to be excluded), maintained recommended spacing and used separate doors to enter the stage. The piano was disinfected after each piece. Remotely controlled digital camers made it possible to live stream the concert.

You can enjoy the concert here. It was held in the Dvořák hall of the Rudolfinum in Prague on Saturday, March 28 at 8 p.m. and live streamed. The program concert is available here.

The concert was supported by Česká spořitelna, which gave the seed gift. All of the musicians performed on a voluntary basis.

Information here is based on Czech Philharmonic press release. Photos by Petr Kadlec and Tomáš Kudrna.