„Czech school of wind instruments“ has been represented very remarkably by „PhilHarmonia Octet“ since 2007 when this ensemble was founded by Vilém Veverka and Václav Vonášek. One generation of Czech players noticed and influenced each other already at school (The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague). The aim of the ensemble has been to compare Czech musical mastery to modern European musical styles and trends, to pursue the best Czech classical music can offer, to broaden their repertoire and the last but not least to enhance the Czech interpretative standard.
As the musical mastery is so characteristic for every member of this ensemble, PhilHarmonia Octet members accept challanges by way of international competitions whose winners they often achieve to be. Most of them also graduated from Universities all around the world and pursue careers of solo players.
PhilHarmonia Octet members are active in prominent European orchestras e.g. Berlin Philharmonic, WDR Köln or Czech Philharmonic. With the very unique interpretation, the ensemble works through different styles and epochs from the second part of the 18th century till the beginning of the new millennium.
On the top of that, the ensemble stands-out in performing many compositions in increased number of musicians i.e. W. A. Mozart / Serenade Es dur „Gran Partita“, A. Dvorak / Serenade d mol for Wind Instruments op. 44. The motivation of the ensemble is to seek more well-choosen adaptations e.g. (M. P. Mussorgsky / Pictures at an Exhibition ).
The name of the ensemble could be explained in two ways: by the original meaning of the word „philharmonic“ – a fondness for harmony, and by the term „harmony“, used for this kind of ensembles since the time of classicism.
PhilHarmonia Octet has local as well as a worldwide reputation.
The topical CD of the ensemble from the year 2017 (Supraphon label) – „Music for Wind Instruments“ with compositions of L.v. Beethoven, G. Klein a W. A. Mozart is being considered the best Czech recording of its kind.
Vilém Veverka, Monika Boušková – oboes
Irvin Venyš, Karel Dohnal – clarinets
Václav Vonášek, Martin Petrák – bassoons
Přemysl Vojta, Ondřej Vrabec – french horns
Winner of the 7th Oboe competition of Tokyo (Sony music foundation, 2003)
Vilém Veverka (1978) is one of the Czech Republic’s most respected interpreters. A graduate of the Prague Conservatory (F. X. Thuri) and Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts (Liběna Séquardtová), he also attended a number of courses by French oboist Jean-Louis Capezzali. His involvement in the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra was a key spur to his artistic development, as were his subsequent studies under leading German oboist Dominik Wollenweber at Berlin’s Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler. A two-year stint with the Berlin Philharmonic (on a Karajan Foundation grant) greatly benefitted his professional development, while the preeminent foreign oboists Albrecht Mayer, Hansjörg Schellenberger, Maurice Bourgue and Heinz Holliger provided him with more than mere inspiration.
His journey culminated with triumph in one of the most prestigious oboe competitions, the Sony Music Foundation (Tokyo, 2003). Veverka’s performances of contemporary music have won him attention as a soloist. His repertoire includes pieces in all styles, from Baroque to contemporary. He works with outstanding Czech and foreign orchestras (Prague Philharmonia, Prague Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Bayerisches Kammerorchester, Münchener Kammerorchester, Slovak Philharmonic, Krakow Philharmonic, etc.). He has performed several demanding compositions from the second half of the 20th century in their Czech premiere (Berio, Britten, Carter, Feldman, Rihm, Yun, Zimmermann), including concertos by Martinů and Kopelent. His versatility as an interpreter underscores not only the first Czech complete recordings of Telemann’s 12 Fantasias for Oboe solo but also the first complete rendition of Zelenka’s Trio Sonatas with the Ensemble Berlin-Prag, which he founded in 2011 with members of the Berlin Philharmonic. Veverka is solo oboist with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra, chief of the PhilHarmonia Octet and an ambassador of the French company Buffet-Crampon. In 2014 he was artist in residence at the top German festival Mitte Europa. In September 2015 he brought out his third solo album on Suprahon, of concertos by Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann, which he recorded exclusively with Ensemble 18+.
Monika Boušková, Oboe
Winner of the 7th Oboe competition of Tokyo (Sony music foundation, 2003)
Solo-english hornist in Prague Symphony Orchestra
Monika Boušková (1977) graduated from Prague Conservatory (in the class of Prof. František Kimel). During her studies she also attended courses led by the French oboist Jean-Louis Capezzali at French-Czech Academy of Music in Telč.
She was a member of the Karlsbad Symphony Orchestra (1998-2000), of the Pilsner Philharmonic Orchestra (2001-2005) and since September 2005 she has been an oboist and solo English hornist of the Prague Symphony Orchestra.
English horn has become the chief focus of her professional life. With Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra and Pilsner Philharmonic Orchestra she has performed solo in compositions for English horn by Juraj Filas and Jean Sibelius. For Czech Radio she has also recorded compositions for English horn by P. Hindemith, E. Bozza, Z. Košnarová and L. Matoušek.
She is a member of PhilHarmonia Octet and together with her colleague of the Prague Symphony Orchestra she founded a chamber ensemble Juventus Collegium FOK.
In 2012 she founded and started managing Bohemian Artists concert agency, which represents several leading Czech artists – soloists or members of chamber ensembles. She produced a documentary movie Hillborg & Dohnal: Music in motion, premiered in February 2016.
Irvin Venyš, clarinet
Irvin Venyš is by all means an outstanding artist of the young Czech generation. He gained top awards in the world most renoun international music competitions – Prague Spring, Pacem in Terris Bayreuth, EBU New Talent, Paris, Zurich, Madeira .
He repeatedly proves these honours at the most prestigeous festivals in Europe – Pablo Casals Festival Prades, Festival Mitte Europa, Mozart der Europaer – Mannheim, Prague Spring, Dvořák Prague – and podiums all over the world – Japan, Germany, France, Spain etc. Extraordinary is the range of his musical activities, reaching from classical repertoir through extremely demanding contemporary compositions – world and czech premiers – Osvaldo Golijov, Betty Oliveiro, Isang Yun, Jan Dušek – Concerto for clarinet and orchestra, N-Tech etc.- to traditional folklore. He has collaborated with the world leading artists – Heinz – Jörg Schellenberger, Radovan Vlatkovič, Zakhar Bron, Peter Czaba, Igor Ardašev, Sir Libor Pešek, Ralph Gothoni, Elina Vahala, Michel Lethiec, Hagai Shaham, Andre Cazalet or Jean – Louis Capezzali etc. His musical education is also worth mentioning.
He has graduated The Brno Conservatory – Prof. Břetislav Winkler- The Academy of performing arts in Prague – Prof. Vlastimil Mareš and Prof. Jiří Hlaváč (PhD), where he is a professor in the mean time and also spent a year at Conservatoir National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris in the class of professor Michel Arrignon.
In the mean time he frequently records for Czech Radio and Czech Television, Mitteldeutsche Rundfunk, Arco Diva and NAXOS. His recordings on Compact discs contain music from classical clarinet repertoir to works inspired by folklore and jazz.
Karel Dohnal, clarinet
Karel Dohnal graduated from the Conservatory in Ostrava (Petr Bohus) and from the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (Vlastimil Mares). He continued his studies at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London (Thea King, Julian Farrell, Joy Farrall), Universität der Künste in Berlin (Francois Benda), Rimsky-Korsakov Saint Petersburg Conservatory (Valery Bezruchenko) and at the Conservatory in Hilversum (Henk de Graaf). Karel Dohnal is also a co-founder of the International master class courses in Ostrava. At the same time, he is also frequently invited as a lector to a variety of interpretive seminars all over the world.
As a soloist performer of works of C. Nielsen, K. Penderecki, J. Tiensuu, A. Copland and of numerous other composers. Karel Dohnal played to audiences in many countries of Europe, Asia, North and South America, performing as in chamber recitals as well as under the accompaniment of orchestras, such as Prague Philharmonia, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra in Ostrava, South Czech Chamber Philharmonia, Philharmonia in Lvov, Philharmonia in Sczeczin, Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra, Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Pardubice, Czech Chamber Orchestra, Talich Philharmonia Prague, Hofer Symphoniker and other ensembles.
Karel Dohnal is also a highly recognized and sought-after interpreter of the contemporary music. He devoted his doctoral thesis to the study of modern clarinet performance techniques, revealing and initiating emergence of many compositions of solo and chamber repertoire of such composers as Antonin Tucapsky, Otmar Macha, Jiri Teml, Juraj Filas, Petr Wajsar, Ales Pavlork, Ivana Loudova, Ondrej Stochl, Krzesimir Debski and others.
Karel Dohnal has also enjoyed great acclaim with his unique performance of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Harlequin, where he as a harlequin in addition to his virtuosic playing the clarinet, demonstrates his comedic and acting talent. Karel Dohnal is one of few clarinettists in the world who performs this exceptionally difficult composition, which has received unsurpassed acclamation from critics as well as from the public.
Karel Dohnal has been introduce in Czech premier and in his own choreography scenic performance of the Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra by Anders Hillborg called “Peacock Tales” for the Music forum festival in Hradec Králové in November 2015.
Martin Petrák, bassoon
Bassoonist in Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
It has a wide range of experience in historical and modern music. He started his music career, when he was 9 years old. Subsequently he continued his studies under leading of prof.J.Řezáč (The Czech Nonet) at the Prague Conservatory.During his studies he participated in the 1999 on music courses Szandor Végh under the guidance bassoonist Sergio Azzolini and oboist Maurice Bourgue.
Subsequently, he continued his studies at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague in the class prof. F.Herman (Ars Rediviva, Czech Philharmonic Orchestra) and J.Seidl (Collegium Musicum Pragenses, Czech Philharmonic), where he began knowledgeable interpretation under the guidance of an excellent musician – organist Lukáš Vendl (Harmonia delectabilis). In the Thesis of the Academy of Music, he realized – development, production and early Baroque repertoire for bassoon.
After graduating in 2005, he became the member of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra.
In 2008 he founded the instrumental ensemble VENTI DIVERSI ensemble, which capitalized on his experiences from previous collaborations with artists from the MA /A / and with whom in the autumn of 2008 he released his debut CD with works G.Ph.Telemann „La Putain“ which won an award „Best CD of 2008” by The Prague Post. The ensemble has over the years introduced at many prestigious Czech and international festivals.
In 2016, bassoonist Martin Petrak founded chamber orchestra Haydn Ensemble. He’s also the artistic director and conductor of the Haydn Ensemble.
Martin Petrák is a member of Trio DuBois and PhilHarmonia Octet.
Since 2011 he is assistant professor of University in Ostrava
– Faculty of Arts.
“At my first concert with the Berliner Philharmoniker, I was incredibly excited and nervous: Would I be able to adapt myself to the orchestra? But then I became fascinated by the way they made music: everyone plays and feels along with everyone else, and I thought, a good musician must always keep his eyes, ears and heart open! Then everything becomes so much easier… “
Václav Vonášek actually wanted to be a clarinettist. But at the conservatory in Pilsen, there were too few bassoonists, so he chose the deep-toned woodwind instrument. Luckily for him! Because since then, he has been thrilled every day by its sound. He discovered his love for the contrabassoon, the deepest-sounding instrument of the orchestra. After studying in Pilsen, he continued his studies under František Herman and Jiří Seidl at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, and under Andrea DeFlammineis and Martin Gatt at the Royal College of Music in London. He also attended master classes given by Dag Jensen, Klaus Thunemann and Gábor Janota. In 2011, Václav Vonášek was awarded his doctorate for his thesis on works for unaccompanied bassoon and characteristics of their performance.
A winner of numerous competitions, including the ARD International Music Competition and the Prague Spring International Music Festival, he gained his first orchestral experience in the theatre orchestra in Pilsen and the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra, and as a substitute with the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Bayerisches Staatsorchester and the Solistes Européens Luxembourg. Following positions as first bassoonist with the Prague Philharmonia and as second bassoonist and contrabassoonist with the Czech Philharmonic, he joined the Berliner Philharmoniker in March 2016. Václav Vonášek is also a member of Trio Arundo, the Prague Bassoon band and the PhilHarmonia Octet Prague. He also appears as a soloist. When the bassoonist is not performing or constructing reeds for his instrument, he likes to go hiking or go on digital treasure hunts (geocaching) together with his children.
Přemysl Vojta, french horn
Principal hornist in WDR Symphonic Orchestra
is a prize winner of various International competitions, Přemysl Vojta was awarded ﬁrst prize in the 2010 International ARD competition. He also received the audience prize and the prize for the best performance of a new work and the special award from the New Philharmonie Westfalen. In 2011, after his successful debut at the Beethoven Festival Bonn, he received the prestigious Beethoven Ring Award.
Přemysl is born in 1983 in Brno (Czech Republic), began playing the horn at the age of ten, under the mentorship of Olga Voldánová. After studying at the Prague Conservatory from 1998 until 2004 with Bedřich Tylšar he moved to Germany, where he was a student of Christian-Friederich Dallmann at the Universität der Künste Berlin from 2004-2010. Now is he teaching at the Hochschule für Musik und Tanz in Cologne.
Current engagements include performances as a soloist with the Academy of St Martin´s in the Fields, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the Stuttgart Radio Orchestra, the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra, the Wiesbaden state theater Orchestra, and the Prague Philharmonic. He has performed in recitals and solo concerts in prestigious European festivals including the Bonn Beethoven Festival, the Prague Spring, the Festival „Mitte Europa“ and the Mount Olympus Festival in St. Petersburg.
As a student Přemysl Vojta was a Member of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and the European Union Youth orchestra as well as performing with the Prague Philharmona. He held the position of Principal Horn with the Staatskapelle Berlin and Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra. Since December 2015 is he principal hornist at WDR Symphonic Orchestra Cologne.
Ondřej Vrabec, french horn
Solo-hornist in Czech Philharmonic Orchestra
In spite of his age, the conductor and horn player Ondřej Vrabec (1979) is one of the most seasoned Czech artists. Though the majority of his recent musical activities is represented by conducting, he benefits from his rich artistic experience derived from intensive concert career of soloist, chamber and orchestra player dated long before the threshold of his adulthood. In mere 17 years, he sat down for the first time on the first chair of horn section of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra and two years later, he was definitely appointed a solo horn player of this orchestra. He is a graduate of Prague Conservatoire and of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (conducting – prof. R. Eliška, J. Bělohlávek, F. Vajnar and others).
In 2007, he ranked the 4th place in the Prague Spring International Conducting Competition. In 2015 he was finalist of the Tokio International Conducting Competition and gained Honorary Mention.
As a solo player he has performed with tens of Czech and foreign orchestras (among others Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Flemish Philharmonic, Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, Bavarian Chamber Orchestra, Sólistes Européenes Luxembourg, NCPA Orchestra Beijing, Augsburg Philharmonic Orchestra, State Philharmonic Košice, Rzeszow Philharmonic, Lviv Philharmonic) under the baton of world famous conductors like Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Edo de Waart, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Ian Volkov, Lü Jia etc.
He has always been very active on the field of chamber music ( PhilHarmonia Octet, Brahms Trio Prague etc.)
He created an extensive sound recording library for Czech Radio and several gramophone titles. The profile CD of Brahms Trio Prague, realized in a unique manner in his own music and sound directing, has gained great responses of critics both at home and abroad. The reviewer of the prestigious American magazine Fanfare termed it probably the best world recording of Trio Es Dur, op. 40 by J. Brahms being realized so far.