The Inside Story: Jiří Skopal and IN HEAVEN

Czech conductor Jiří Skopal has been teaching and leading choirs for more than 40 years. He has led choirs to international acclaim, one of the most notable being the Jitro Czech Girls Choir with whom he has performed around the world and participated in major global competitions. Jitro, whose name translates to “daybreak,” has been admired all over the world for their tonal brilliance, superb intonation, distinctive rich blend of sound, and energetic vitality.

Today, Jiří is our featured artist in “The Inside Story,” a blog series exploring the inner workings and personalities of our artists. In this interview, discover this accomplished conductor’s greatest inspirations over his lifetime…

What inspires you to perform?

The magic of music is my biggest inspiration!

Tell us about your first performance.

I was six when I had my first performance. I played violin at a concert for parents.

If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?

If I weren’t a musician, I would like to be a farmer, a forester, a mountain guide, or a gold panner.

If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?

I would always choose the Jitro choir.

What advice do you have for young musicians?

Music is definitely worth the lifelong hard work. But most of all – keep loving it!

If we looked through your music library, what would we be surprised to find?

I have a large number of monographs on composers, conductors, and singers. However, the most precious for me are the hand-written scores dedicated to me by Otmar Mácha, Miroslav Raichl, and Jan Jirásek.

Do you have any specific hopes about what this album will mean to listeners?

I hope this album will help listeners know more about the fascinating man who wrote these works: Petr Eben.

How have your influences changed as you grow as a musician?

At first I was influenced by my father, followed by the outstanding choir masters Ivan Sedláček and Milan Uherek. Over the last two decades I have been inspired mainly by the composer Jan Jirásek who composes much of the music we record with the choir. Two albums, CZECH AND MORAVIAN CHRISTMAS CAROLS and PARALLEL WORLDS, have been recently released by Navona Records.

What were your first musical experiences?

They were in our family! I have been surrounded by music since my birth. My father was an excellent pianist, violinist, choir master, and conductor.

How do you prepare for a performance?

I look forward to it with great enthusiasm!

Where and when are you at your most creative?

At each and every rehearsal of our choir.

What are your other passions besides music?

My wife, sports and namely the athletics, and gold panning.

What was the first performance you remember seeing?

I remember seeing the performance of the Choir of North-Moravian Teachers, conducted by my father. I was nearly two and I called at my father right from the concert hall when I saw him.

Who are your musical mentors?

My father Jan Skopal, professor Ladislav Daniel, and the choir master Zbyněk Mrkos.

IN HEAVEN will be available for streaming or purchase through Navona Records on May 10. Click here to pre-order.

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