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The good friends Dvořák & Brahms, for orchestra, choir and soloists

Bechyně, Czech Republic, Thursday 1 - Sunday 11 August 2019


Places available for:

  • singers in all vocal groups, in particular tenors
  • a clarinet
  • a violin
  • a viola

Last minute reduction possible. Call +31 619 224 758 for information


The music

The historic monastery of Bechyně is already more than 25 years the venue for an annual summer school devoted to Czech and Central European music. This course has two aspects: chamber music or chamber choir, and a joint program for soloists, chorus and orchestra, focusing this year on romantic music around Dvořák and his good friend Brahms.

Chamber music & chamber choir

Coaching in full swing

The mornings are devoted to small ensembles. Every participant will be assigned to two different ensembles, alternating per day. Half of the time the ensembles receive intensive coaching by the tutors. The ensembles will have an opportunity to present themselves in an internal concert.

Instrumentalists take part in chamber music in all possible combinations of string and winds, with or without piano. All formations from quartet upward are possible, with perhaps a few incidental trios. Ensembles will be formed well in advance, so you can prepare your parts thoroughly at home. There is also the unique possibility to form larger and more complex combinations, also with winds, that are not easy to organize 'at home'. Think of Schubert's Octet, the Spohr Nonet and the Allegro for four string quartets by the Dutch romantic composer Van Bree.

Tewe Verhage: A Pellegrina summer school is like a perfect active vacation with much to be experienced

Every morning the choir singers will rehearse in the chamber choir, working on music by Mendelssohn (for example Siehe, der Hüter Israels from the Oratorio Elias) and by Mitchell Sandler himself, to name a few works. Some singers can form combinations with instruments. For instance, a soprano could do Schubert's Hirt auf dem Felsen or Spohr's Lieder for voice, clarinet and piano. A baritone could work on Barber's Dover Beach with a string quartet. A few more suggestions: Mozart and Haydn Lieder for several voices and piano, Telemann's Harmonischer Gottesdienst, Schubert's Hochzeitsbraten or other Schubert works for several voices and piano, etc., etc.

The course is open to individual participants as well as existing ensembles.

There will be time for occasional combinations and musical get-togethers. A special evening will be the Mozart Concerto Event, where pianists and other instrumentalists are invited to prepare a movement from a concerto by Mozart or a contemporary and the other instrumentalists are asked to accompany, sight-reading the orchestral parts.

Henriëtte Hamer: "La Pellegrina invites you to do things you did not suspect that you could or maybe even dared"

The program for soloists, choir and orchestra: Dvořák & Brahms

This year's theme is the friendship between Dvořák and Brahms. That is why music composed by both friends sounds in the final concert of the course, conducted by Dirkjan Horringa

  • Brahms, Ein Deutsches Requiem, movement 3 and 4, for choir and orchestra
  • Brahms, Schicksalslied op. 54, for choir and orchestra
  • Dvořák, Symphonic poem Holoubek (The Wood Dove) op. 110
  • Dvořák, Slavic Rhapsody in D major op. 45 nr. 3

This program is a challenge for both the choir and the orchestra. It will be perfomed in the monastery church. Read more about the works and the historical context here

Johannes Brahms
Johannes Brahms

Anke Wolffes: "The rehearsals were very pleasant. Dirkjan manages every year to be ambitious and motivating, yet relaxed in his way of working with us"

Introductory rehearsal

On Saturday, 22 June, a preliminary rehearsal day will be held in Utrecht, led by Mitchell Sandler and Dirkjan Horringa. Its aim is to get to know the other participants, and to have a first go at the choral and orchestral programme, so you can then prepare your part more efficiently. More information on the venue and times will follow. Beside that, it is inspiring to meet your 'chamber music colleagues' and to discuss the work your are going to play or sing. Of course this rehearsal is not obligatory for participants from outside the Netherlands. Still, quite often a few participants not living in the Netherlands turn up, combining it with a weekend sightseeing or visiting friends.

Marieke van Dantzig: "forging a beautiful whole out of a weird combination of people, styles and musical skills in a short time: that is the magic of inspirator Dirkjan"

For whom


The course is open to 32 experienced chamber choir singers (SATB). The choir has a big and challenging part in Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem and Schicksalslied . In addition, the choristers form a chamber choir every morning and work on music by Mendelssohn, Dvořák, Mozart and their Czech contemporaries. Mitchell Sandler will lead this choir in his inimitable way, combining helpful vocal instructions and excellent piano accompaniment with clear direction. Czech professional tenors and basses will join the choir if it is necessary for the balance between the different voice groups.

Marrie Kardol "Pellegrina has become one of my best and healthiest addictions!"

Solo singers

singer being coached
A singer being coached

Let’s say you are a singing student, current or recent, or a talented amateur at an equivalent level. You are comfortable singing as a soloist. You have the ability to study and learn the solo part of a chamber music composition. In that case it might be possible that you sing as part of one of the small chamber music ensembles in the morning sessions.

We would like to hear you. This will give us an idea of how to place you within the course – to know which part might be appropriate for you, both in the Schöpfung and in the chamber music. Please make a recording of your singing and send it to La Pellegrina as CD, MP3 or YouTube clip.

Yolande Krooshof: "I have persuaded three people to join the course, eerie, but they all have enjoyed it!"


The course in intended for experienced chamber music players, willing to prepare their parts at home. Pianists are able to play solo parts. The number of participants in this course is determined by the orchestral works: there is room for double woodwinds, four horns, two trumpets, timpani and strings 8-8-6-6-3 or a few more. In the chamber music part there is room for four pianists, who play in the chamber music ensembles, accompany singers in their arias and might even play timpani and other percussion in the orchestra or sing in the choir. For the other instruments in the orchestra, such as harp, trombones and tuba, we hire Czech professionals.

Carla and Eric van Kassel: "After three times with Pellegrina in Bechyně you may call us hooked!"

Week programme and daily schedule

Week programme

François Lanave: "I was the only French-speaking person at breakfast among musicians speaking a strange language with raspy 'g' sounds. But they immediately turned nicely into English, so that we could communicate"

Interval in the monastery courtyard

Daily schedule

Cora van Lierop: "When I arrive in Bechyně and I meet the teachers and the participants again, it feels like coming home"

Concert in the monastery church
Concert in the monastery church


Read more about Bechyně, the place where the course will be held:

Casper van Dongen: "La Pellegrina has been my annual 'therapy' for almost 20 years now... Where do you make music with such variety and where do you drink your beer in such a beautiful setting?"

Joy after the chamber music concert

With whom

The tutors of this course are passionate specialists in their musical fields: Martina Bernášková, Petr Bernášek, Václav Bernášek, Pavel Hořější, Dirkjan Horringa, Libor Nováček, Mitchell Sandler and Rudolf Sternadel.

meal at Penzion Elektra
A delicious meal at Penzion Elektra

Register now

In order to register, please fill out this form and pay a deposit of EUR 250 (which is of course refundable in case you could not be placed).



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