About the Orchestra
The student orchestra, “Smiling Strings,“ was established in 2013 as part of the ZUS Střezina, a School for the Arts in Hradec Králové, Czech Republic.
The nucleus of the orchestra is a string quartet made of the lead students in the string department -Anna Vernerová (1st violin), Marie Bařinová (2nd violin), Ondřej Metelka (viola) and Anna Marie Kadečková (violoncello). The string quartet recently received a special award for the best student chamber group in the national Young Talent Competition (high school category).
The “Smiling Strings” group includes middle school and high school students selected from the school’s large string department, ages 12-18. The main portion of their repertoire consists of classical music, but the students also love to play film music and various popular tunes. The orchestra participated in the music festival, “Škroupovy Osice“ (named after the author of the Czech National Anthem). They performed in Prague for the members of the Czech Parliament and at the Foerster Music Festival in Libán in June 2018.
In 2017 the orchestra published their first CD featuring the film music of the British composer, Rachel Portman, a winner of the Academy Award in the category of Best Musical or Comedy Score (for Emma in 1996) and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for Bessie. Ms. Portman was delighted to give the students her personal permission to arrange her music for strings and record it.
The Czech violin virtuoso, Pavel Šporcl, selected the “Smiling Strings” for his special five-concert tour in 2017 and after much success, he is planning to work together with the orchestra again in the near future.
In May 2018, the orchestra won the national competition of string orchestras in Olomouc in all age categories (even though their oldest students were only 16). The group was officially crowned “The Best Student String Orchestra in the Czech Republic.” The students are very excited about their upcoming Christmas tour in Canada and the USA, touring together with a Czech-born American bass-baritone, Michael Šust and his family.
About the Conductor
Mikuláš Ježek, (b. 1982), is an accomplished violin and viola player and the founder of the Smiling Strings. He began to play at the age of 4. He graduated from the National Conservatory in Brno and in Prague and received his Master of Music Degree in chamber music from the Academy of Music in Prague.
As a performer, he was the finalist of the Czech national solo strings competition and in 2006 he qualified for the prestigious Brahms violin competition in Germany. He was selected for international master classes with virtuosos Vladimír Bukač (Germany), Nobuko Imay (Japan), Karel Špelina (Czech Philharmonic Orchestra), and Tamara Smirnova (Russia).
In 2007, he premiered the Rhapsody Concerto of Bohuslav Martinů for viola and orchestra with the National Philharmonic Orchestra in Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina) and received a three year internship as the Concert Master of the viola section for both the Bosnian Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the Sarajevo Opera House Orchestra.
Since 2009, Mr. Ježek has been a member of the Czech National Symphony Orchestra (under maestro Libor Pešek), and a viola Concert Master of the Czech National Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra since 2011. He teaches strings at the ZUŠ Střezina in Hradec Králové and is quickly becoming one of the most accomplished Czech string orchestra conductors.
Anna Vernerová Marie Bařinová Lucie Prajslerová
Kryštof Hrda Eliška Víravová
Štěpánka Zámišová Jakub Krtička
Gita Hujbertová Michaela Metelková Jonáš Velc
Karolína Tošovská Zoja Sedláčková Anežka Boháčová,
Ondřej Metelka Ludmila Žlábková
Anna Marie Kadečková Darya Husak
Klára Horáková Matěj Hušek
Zuzana Dulíčková Matyáš Blaha