Since it was founded in 1997, the Prague ensemble Collegium Marianum has focused on presenting the music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, especially by composers who were born or active in central Europe. One of the few professional ensembles specialising in this field in the Czech Republic, Collegium Marianum not only gives musical performances, but regularly also stages scenic projects.
Since 1999 the ensemble has been under the artistic leadership of the traverso player Jana Semerádová who also regularly appears as a soloist with some of the eminent European orchestras. Her active research together with her study of baroque gesture, declamation and dance, has enabled Semerádová to broaden the profile of the Collegium Marianum ensemble and present multi-genre projects featuring baroque dance and theatre. Her unique, thematic programming has resulted in a number of modern-day premieres of historical music presented each year.
The ensemble has collaborated with renowned European conductors, soloists, directors and choreographers such as Andrew Parrott, Hana Blažíková, Damien Guillon, Peter Kooij, Sergio Azzolini, François Fernandez, Simona Houda-Šaturová, Benjamin Lazar, Jean-Denis Monory and Gudrun Skamletz. The ensemble has also maintained long-term collaboration with the Buchty a loutky theatre company, producing some highly original projects, such as F. Cavalli‘s opera Calisto staged with marionettes.
Collegium Marianum has received critical acclaim both at home and abroad. The ensemble has appeared extensively on the Czech Radio and TV as well as on the radio abroad. It regularly performs at music festivals and on prestigious stages both in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe, including Alter Musik Regensburg, Bachfest Leipzig, Potsdam Festspiele, Mitte Europa, Festival de Sablé, Bolzano Festival, Palau Música Barcelona, Pražské jaro, or Concentus Moraviae. In 2008 the ensemble started a successful collaboration with the Supraphon label. Within the “Music from Eighteenth-Century Prague” series it has launched six recordings: Concertos & arias by J. J. I. Brentner, Rorate coeli / Music for Advent and Christmas in Baroque Prague, Concertos and sinfonias by F. Jiránek (IRR Outstanding, Diapason), Sepolcri by J. D. Zelenka (Harmonie Tip), Musici da camera (Harmonie Tip and Harmonie Editor’s Choice) and J. A. Sehling – Christmas in Prague Cathedral (Harmonie Tip). For Supraphon the ensemble has also made a recording of J. D. Zelenka’s Lamentationes Jeremiæ Prophetæ (Harmonie Tip and Harmonie Editor’s Choice). Besides its long-term collaboration with the Supraphon label, the ensemble has featured on the profile CD of the soprano Simona Houda-Šaturová, Gloria and in a DVD recording of A. Caldara’s Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo.
Since 2001 Collegium Marianum has presented the concert cycle Baroque soirées. Due to its thematic programming and close interconnection with the historical spaces of Old Prague, the series is unique not only in the Czech, but international context. Collegium Marianum is the ensemble in residence of the international music festival Summer Festivities of Early Music. In January 2010 Collegium Marianum was awarded with an honour for the credits of quality and for the general promotion of Czech music, presented by the International Music Council by UNESCO.