We looked back, as well as forward, in time with Stanislava Lustyková, headmaster of the Jan Deyl Conservatory and High School.
The calendar year is coming to a close. Is there anything you're proud of, anything that went well for the Conservatory?
I've experienced quite a few delights. For instance, this year, we completed the Erasmus+ study program in Luxembourg for the first time. Our students also have the opportunity to hone their skills in various masterclasses with prominent singers, musicians, and university lecturers. These include Kateřina Kněžíková and Adam Plachetka, patrons of the Department of Classical Singing, Professor Mariusz Kwiecień, a prominent singer (New York Metropolitan Opera, etc.) and university professor, and Simona Šaturová, a world-famous opera singer of Slovak descent. The piano players had the opportunity to work under the tutelage of Assoc. Prof. Libuše Tichá, M.F.A, Ph.D., or Miroslav Sekera, M.F.A, an excellent piano player and lecturer at HAMU Prague. I am proud of the very successful budding career of our 6th-year student Daniel Matoušek, a sought-after tenor who has been a National Theater Opera soloist since last season and who has made guest appearances in various other operas in Czechia and abroad. Despite his young age, he was nominated for the Thalia Award, and our contratenor Vojtěch Pelka received numerous awards from national and international competitions. At the Department of Classical Singing, we have seen major success from our 5th-year student Anna Flajšmanová, her last one being this October when she became the undisputed winner of the Bohuslav Martinů Singing Competition. And several other students from our school received prizes or special awards for interpretation from international competitions. Mihails Olchovs, our blind 5th-year piano student, received various prestigious awards from international competitions throughout his studies. Our popular singing students are currently in the final of the Bon Art Junior Fest 2023 competition. I am also happy about the appearances of the Big Braille Band under the leadership of Professor Lukáš Čermák, such as the show for the Bílá pastelka (White Crayon) fundraiser or at the popular Mezi ploty (Between the Fences) festival as well as the success of the Carmina Lucis vocal ensemble under the leadership of Professor Jan Kyjovský, which made it to the final of the Mezzochori 2023 competition. The individual success of our string instrument players is also worth mentioning, such as that of our violoncellist Kateřina Korbelová. Our collaboration with the Czech-French center Petrkov, which is able to function thanks to the massive support of the French embassy, is also significant.
With conservatory student, pianist, and piano tuner Karel Leskovec
Are you planning any New Year or Christmas concerts?
We'll have our traditional Advent concert before Christmas (December 14) where our school's most successful students appear. The concert has been one of the prominent events of recent years in Lesser Town. The event also includes a soirée where we invite the school's sponsors and supporters as well as all the teachers and other employees, of course. During the Advent period, specifically on December 5, we will be performing the premiere of Mozart's Magic Flute, which our students have prepared with the assistance of professionals. Moreover, we play shows for hospitals, kindergartens, etc.
Do you have anything new planned for this school year?
We put in an application at the Ministry of Culture for a project related to the Year of Czech Music 2024 and we hope it will receive funding. It is a project called Czech Music Shifting Throughout the Centuries, which we are collaborating on with a professional orchestra and soloists. It will include two concerts of our students and teachers focused on significant musical anniversaries – 200 years since the birth of Bedřich Smetana, 170 years since the birth of Leoš Janáček, 150 years since the birth of Josef Suk, but also the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jiří Šlitr or a post-mortem commemoration of Petr Hapka's 80th birthday. Furthermore, we are planning to continue the Lesser Town Nocturna, which was a new event started last year that includes four concerts for the public called Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer. We'll also have another Erasmus+, which will be focused on inclusion. Our school is the best possible example in this sense because we provide opportunities not only for blind students but also for others with specific learning disabilities, including foreign language students. We have no aides, we all just help each other out, nobody pays heed to the differences. Another new thing is the already approved project called Šablony I (Stencils I) focusing on the personal support and career growth of teachers and the innovative education of children. Additionally, we started cooperating with the N Foundation, which aims to develop and improve neonatal care in Motol University Hospital. Some of our blind students were in need of such care in the past, which is one of the reasons why our cooperation is that much more pronounced.
The Jan Deyl Conservatory and High School's main building is the former early Baroque palace of Straka of Nedabylice in Prague's Lesser Town. It has a one-of-a-kind concert hall, its walls covered with illusory murals. The ceiling mural consists of four allegorical scenes. The facility has two more buildings that house arts classrooms, the dormitory, and the school cafeteria. The aims and activities of the Jan Deyl Conservatory and High School carry on in the footsteps of the previous Deyl Institute, founded in 1910 by Jan Deyl, M.D., a prominent ophthalmologist and scientist. The philanthropic Institute was meant for the upbringing of blind youth. Since the 1920s, music education with the intention of preparing students for future work in teaching music or piano tuning was gradually more emphasized.