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 40 years ago in Venezuela as El Sistema and since then has been successfully developing in the US, Canada and 24 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.
Judita Haslinger Cholujová
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.
At present she works as a political analyst at the United States Embassy in Prague.
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.
Conductor and founder of the Municipal Youth Orchestra. An El Sistema student and its “missionary” in Europe, he co-founded programs in Turkey, Slovenia and Austria. Artistic director of the Harmonie Foundation.
Program coordinator at the ZŠ (hereinafter elementary school) Kořenského: Iveta Honsnejmanová, email@example.com
Chuhei Iwasaki (conductor)
Chuhei Iwasaki – conductor, violinist, composer, choirmaster, born in 1987. He graduated from Toho Gakuen in Tokyo (violin major) and from the Prague Conservatoire (conducting, violin and composition). Since 2013 he has been studying conducting at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.
- Principal conductor of the Iwasaki Philharmonic Orchestra
- Principal conductor of the FILMharmonie
- Conductor in the world project “El Sistema” in the Czech Republic
- Teacher at the Prague Conservatoire (conductor of its modern music orchestra)
Cooperation and guest performances with leading ensembles:
PKF – Prague Philharmonia, Pardubice Chamber Philharmonic, Talich Chamber Philharmonic, South Bohemian Philharmonic, Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic Zlín, Charles University Art Ensemble, Pueri Gaudentes, etc.
Jiří Korynta (conductor)
He comes from a musical family: his father is a jazz pianist, his mother a singer. He has devoted himself to music since his childhood – from the age of 6 he played with his siblings in the Prague Students´ Orchestra led by Professor Mirko Škampa. He attended several schools of music, studying the trumpet, violin and viola at the Ježek Conservatoire; at the Prague Conservatoire he studied conducting and percussion instruments. During his musical career he has performed in various ensembles, including big bands, brass band orchestras, chamber orchestras, quintets and other ensembles, playing mostly the trumpet, bass guitar and percussions. Following on from there, he joined symphony orchestras: he played the timpani in the Pilsen Philharmonic, while recording with the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and the Film Symphony Orchestra. His latest conducting initiatives include cooperation with and conducting the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra Olomouc and solo singers. As part of the project “Opera Under the May Sky”, whose sixth event was held in the Smetana Square in Litomyšl, he conducted the aforementioned solo singers in a selection from Czech and world operas. He has always been interested in film and all his above musical expertise culminated in the establishment of the Prague Film Orchestra, which has been performing for 10 years now.
Alexander Hledík (second 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.
Anežka Kyselková (violoncello)
She began playing the cello at the age of 5 under Marie Eiblová. She attended many competitions, both as a soloist and in chamber ensembles. She was a member of the Violoncello Ensemble of the ZUŠ Český Krumlov, an ensemble that has received many awards in the Czech Republic and abroad. She graduated from the Prague Conservatoire having studied in a class of Professor Tomáš Strašil. To date she has attended several cello master courses, for instance in Soběslav.