The Collegium 1704 and Collegium Vocale 1704 ensembles were founded by the harpsichordist and conductor Václav Luks in 2005 on the occasion of the Bach–Prague–2005 project, marking the beginning of residential collaboration with the Prague Spring International Music Festival. Since 2007, Collegium 1704 has been regular guest at festivals in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany – mainly promoting work of Czech baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka. In 2008, they began the Prague-Dresden Musical Bridge concert series, which continues the rich cultural traditions of the two cities. Collaboration with the renowned soloists Magdalena Kožená, Vivica Genaux, and Bejun Mehta naturally led, in 2012, to a second concert series, called Collegium 1704 in the Rudolfinum (formerly Baroque Opera Stars), held at the Rudolfinum – Dvořák Hall in Prague. With Handel’s Rinaldo (directed by Louise Moaty), Collegium 1704 achieved successes at the National Theatre, Prague, and at opera houses in Versailles, Caen, Rennes and Luxembourg.
The year of 2013 was devoted to rediscovery of the Czech composer Josef Mysliveček, whose opera l’Olimpiade (directed by Ursel Herrmann) was presented by Collegium 1704 in Prague, Caen, Dijon, Luxembourg, Theater an der Wien and nominated for The International Opera Awards 2014. In Prague Spring Festival 2013, Collegium 1704 performed Mysliveček’s oratorio La Passione di Gesù Cristo.
There has been important festival and concert appearances in the recent past, which include Konzerthaus Wien, Lucerner Festival, MA Brugge, Musikfest Stuttgart, Tage Alter Musik in Herne and BOZAR (Palais des Beaux-Arts) in Brussels. Moreover, Collegium 1704 is also going to perform at the Salzburger Festspiele, Chopin Festival Warsaw, Wratislavia Cantans in Wroclaw and as residential ensemble at the prestigious Oude Muziek Utrecht and Bachfest Leipzig.
Radio and television stations throughout Europe broadcast many Collegium 1704 concerts live and recorded. In 2014, Collegium 1704 and Vaclav Luks collaborated with Bejun Mehta on a DVD project of Gluck's opera Orfeo ed Euridice and a BBC Two documentary “Mozart in Prague”, starred by Ronaldo Villazon. Its recordings on the Accent, Zig-Zag Territoires and Supraphon labels are continuously acclaimed by the general public and music critics alike (including Diapason d'Or, Coup de Coeur by TV Mezzo, nomination for The Gramophone Awards by Gramophone Magazine etc.). In September 2013, the long-awaited Collegium 1704 recording of J. S. Bach’s Mass in B minor was issued. The most current is their recording of vocal works by J. D. Zelenka and F. I. A. Tůma by Supraphon.
…and why 1704?
1704 is a symbolic year of Jan Dismas Zelenka, our armorial composer.
In August 1704 the church of St. Nicholas in Prague witnessed the magnificent performance of Zelenka’s Jesuit allegory play –Via Laureata. As we don't know anything about Zelenka's previous life, this event signifies the arrival of some of the most remarkable personalities of the 18th century music of the European music scene.
Pictures to download here.