The Harmonie Foundation has brought a unique program of music instruction to the Czech Republic. The program provides children with free musical training, gives them an opportunity to build an orchestra and become an indispensable part of a community in which everybody has their place.
The program started in 1975 in Venezuela as El Sistema and since then has been successfully developing in the US, Canada and 27 countries in Europe.
The notion of a socially preventive music education came to the Czech Republic thanks to Milada Cholujová, the founder of the Harmonie Foundation, in 2009. Since then professional musicians have been giving children a chance to promote their abilities, learn how to work in a team and experience joy of music and life, while building an orchestra. Children, regardless of their family or social background, school results or cultural roots, receive as many as 8 hours of free group training in playing a musical instrument a week. Thanks to the project’s approach, methodology and philosophy, its positive impact on children in socially excluded localities has been plain to see. Thanks to this program children are known to have better school attendance, better school results, better concentration and higher self-confidence. The communities into which the project brings music, order and discipline cooperate much better and their attitude to other groups of citizens is more forthcoming. Intense music education and public performances given by children’s orchestras also improve the quality of relations and support within the family.
Everything the Harmonie Foundation brings to children, families, schools, communities and localities is free of charge. Several hours of musical training led by professional musicians, musical instruments, concerts and last but not least adventure, skills, experience, friendship… The values we would very much like to spread to other places, to other children, who would otherwise be roaming the streets, wasting their enormous energy in the wrong direction.
Founder of the Harmonie Foundation, she graduated from the Charles University’s Faculty of Philosophy in Prague, English and Czech studies. She worked as an editor in the Foreign Language Broadcasts of the Czechoslovak Radio, preparing and recording interviews with outstanding personalities of classical and popular music, theatre, film and fine arts. Her programs featured conductors Václav Neumann, Charles Mackerras, Leonard Slatkin and Neville Marriner, distinguished soloists John Lill, Garrick Ohlsson and Eugene Indjic, film directors Miloš Forman and Jiří Menzel, writers John Updike, William Styron and William Saroyan, musicians and actors Benny Goodman, Timothy Dalton, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, Elton John and many others. Her experience of the non-profit foundation sector was acquired during her work as the Director of the Prague branches of the CDC (Citizens Democracy Corps based in Washington, DC) and the CIJ (Center for Independent Journalism), two organizations that prepared large-scale educational programs in the Czech Republic. She founded the Harmonie Foundation in the autumn of 2009.
Born in Prague, she studied film, art history and art at the universities in Britain and the Netherlands. She is a co-founder of the Harmonie Foundation, currently working in the film production business.
Member of the Board of Directors of the Harmonie Foundation, she graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy of the Charles University in Prague, English and German studies. She won her doctoral degree by defending her diploma in English linguistics. She worked as an editor of the English Service of the Czechoslovak Foreign Language Broadcasts and then she served at the United States Embassy in Prague, first as a media analyst, later as a political analyst. She also worked as the Executive Director of the non-profit organization Ferdinand Peroutka Endowment Fund and as the PR and Student Recruitment Director at the Anglo-American University in Prague. After a short spell in the non-profit organization Život90 she served as a press secretary of the Czech Republic’s Attorney General, and then as the spokesperson of the Attorney General’s Office in Brno and of the Ministry of Culture.
She was born in Prague, after leaving the Secondary School of Economics (foreign trade) she was employed in clerical jobs – as a secretary at the Czech Technical University, the Czech Agricultural University, and in the Trade Research Institute. She also received hands-on experience as an assistant in the Secretariat of the Czech Ministry for Trade and Industry and in the company TMF, where she served as an archivist. She came into contact with the non-profit sector while working for the Prague branch of the CDC (Citizens Democracy Corps based in Washington, DC) and the CIJ (Center for Independent Journalism), organizations that prepared large-scale educational programs in the Czech Republic. She has been with the Harmonie Foundation since 2012.
Irena graduated from the Faculty of Arts at Palacký University in Olomouc, English and Polish studies. For several years she worked in the real estate sector – first as a project manager in an American real estate development company, then as a managing director of a Canadian company focused on providing real estate investment and asset management services. Shortly after graduation, she was appointed a court translator and interpreter of the English language and has been actively pursuing this profession ever since. She has been working at the Harmonie Foundation as a project coordinator since 2020.
Program coordinator: Irena Nováková firstname.lastname@example.org tel. 608 900 827
Lenka Dandová (conductor and orchestra manager)
Lenka Dandová has applied herself to music since her early age. She began her music training at an elementary art school in Žatec, studying singing and piano playing. She later devoted herself to chamber singing and four-hand piano playing. She regularly attended competitions and carried off awards. After finishing her studies at the secondary school of teacher training in Most she was admitted to the Charles University in Prague in the following study branches: Choir Leading (Jaroslav Brych), Piano Playing (Vít Gregor) and Music Education. During her university studies she took private lessons in solo singing and orchestra conducting. In 2010 she received the “Talent of the Year“ award and conducted the Prague Chamber Philharmonic at the concert of laureates. In addition to her teaching, choir leading and conducting career she also sings with leading Czech choirs.
Alexander Hledík (violin)
He studied the Prague Conservatoire and the Academy of Performing Arts. In 2011 he played under the baton of J. Bělohlávek in the Prague Conservatoire’s Symphony Orchestra in the opening concert of the Prague Spring Festival. He is a concertmaster in the Prague Film Orchestra, playing first violin in his own string quartet. He is active in private music teaching.
Růženka Dvořáková (viola)
She grew up in the United States where she joined the Junior All-State Orchestra based in Moline, Illinois at the age of 12. Then she took private viola lessons in South Dakota. For four years she played in the South Dakota All-State Orchestra and was a member of a youth orchestra – the Sioux Empire Youth Orchestra (SEYO). Besides the viola, she also played the euphonium until the age of 18, and for four years she performed in the All-State Band, serving for one year as its head. At the age of 18 she was admitted to the Prague Conservatoire where she has been studying the viola for five years now. She attended the summer courses in Telč and Dobřichovice given by world-famous music teachers. At present she is first viola player in the Iwasaki Symphony Orchestra as well as in the Prague Conservatoire’s Symphony Orchestra.
Kristýna Juřenová (violoncello)
She attended many competitions, both as a soloist and in chamber or orchestra ensembles. She graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, The Music and Dance Faculty and the Prague Conservatoire. She cooperates with the Film Philharmony, The Moravian Philharmony Olomouc, The Citi of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Virtuosi Brunensis, Camerata Cremsiriensis and others.
Terézia Hledíková (violin)
Terézia Hledíková is studying at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. During her studies, she had performed as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral player, not only in the Czech Republic, but also in Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Germany, Italy, France, Austria, and Luxembourg. She participated in several national and international competitions, where she got awarded leading prizes. She participated in violin courses led by renowned violinists, such as Ilya Gringolts, Alexandra Soumm, Vadim Gluzman, Midori Goto, Josef Špaček, Jan Fišer, Dalibor Karvay or Noah Bendix-Balgley. As an EMCY (European Union of Music Competitions for Youth) winner, she has been invited to perform as a guest at concerts at the National Music Competition of Luxembourg and at the “Young Hearts for Music Tour” in Austria and Germany. In 2014 she played with Slovak Sinfonietta conducted by Leoš Svárovský. In 2018 she performed as a soloist at one of the concerts of the Václav Hudeček Festival – “The Prague Music Festival”, and as a part of the “Orchestra Residencies Program”, she played alongside Midori Goto. Since 2018 she has been performing at her own violin recital every year during the “Písek Music Summer” in collaboration with Slovak pianist Matěj Arendárik. In December 2021 she played concerts with Czech pianist Marek Kozák and in February 2022 she made her debut with the Pilsen Philharmonic under the chief conductor Chuhei Iwasaki. In April 2022, she successfully passed the entrance exams to the Manhattan School of Music and the Mannes School of Music.
Oleg Cingarski (violoncello)
Oleg Cingarski grew up in The Republic of Macedonia, where he began his musical education. He started to play violoncello at the age of 8. He graduated from the Musical School in Skopjie in 2019 and continued to study at the Prague Conservatoire in the class of prof. doc. MgA. Miroslava Petráše. After the graduation in 2021, he continues to study at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, The Music and Dance Faculty under prof. doc. MgA. Michal Kaňka. Oleg has the experience both as a soloist and in chamber or orchestra ensembles. He has played under the baton of Tomáš Netopil (The Czech Republic), Leoš Svarovský (The Czech Republic), Miriam Němcová (The Czech Republic), Robert Kružík (The Czech Republic), Le Phi Phi (Vietnam), Anton Martynov (Russia), Tomas Posth (Germany), Elisabeth Attl (Austria) etc.