Young Czech conductor Jakub Hrusa to take his place at the podium.

Chief conductor of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra Jirí Belohlávek has cancelled his Australian tour, citing ill health. The Czech-born maestro, specialist in the music of his homeland, was to conduct two concerts in the Melbourne Arts Centre’s exclusive season.

Belohlávek has handed the reins over to his young protégé compatriot, Jakub Hrůša. A regular guest of the Melbourne and West Australian symphonies, the 31-year-old Hrůša has made a name for himself as music director and chief conductor of the Prague Philharmonia, music director of Glyndebourne on Tour and principal guest conductor of Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra. He was named by Gramophoneas one of ten young conductors “on the verge of greatness”.

The Czech Philharmonic is renowned as one of the finest orchestras in the world, praised by Belohlávek for its “rich, melodious string sound combined with a very distinctive woodwind.”

In an interview with Limelight, he pointed out that the members of the orchestra are “almost all of Czech origin. Bohemian music is in their blood.”

Fittingly, the Czech Philharmonic’s two Melbourne concerts on August 26–27 showcase repertoire from its homeland – music by Smetana, Dvorák, Janácek and Josef...