Winona Zelenka

Assistant Principal Cello

Winona Zelenka

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Instrument(s):  Cello

Age you began playing: 4

Year you joined the TSO: 2001

Who or what inspired you most to play your instrument? My parents started all of us on instruments, as they were both musicians. My dad was a professional flutist in Slovakia before he immigrated here. When I was a child I was amazed by Jacqueline du Pré and Yo-Yo Ma.

Does your instrument have a story? My cello is made by the American luthier Christopher Dungey, and was only finished in June of 2012! There are three cellists in the orchestra with cellos made by this wonderful maker.

What is interesting to you about working in an orchestra? The way how all the parts fit together, the ingenuity of the music we play, and the interesting personalities and styles of music-making that we encounter every week.

What 3 recordings (of any genre) would you want to have with you on a desert island? Glenn Gould’s “Goldberg” Variations; anything by Ella Fitzgerald; and the complete symphonies of Beethoven with the Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell conducting.

What wisdom would you impart to students and aspiring musicians? Find the area of music-making that makes you excited, and throw yourself into it wholeheartedly. Cultivate discipline early.

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Musician Biography

Winona Zelenka joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 2001. As a soloist, she has performed concerti with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the Mississauga Symphony Orchestra, and the Toronto Philharmonia Orchestra, among many others. She is a dedicated recitalist and chamber musician, regularly performing in every Toronto music series of note as well as the Ottawa Chamberfest; she is also a proponent of new music, having performed two world premières of works written for her by Canadian composers Michael Pepa and Chris Paul Harman.

Winona formed Trio Arkel in 2006 with violinist Marie Bérard and violist Teng Li, and in the fall of 2013 they launched their concert series entitled TRIO ARKEL PRESENTS. They play classic and eclectic string trio repertoire as well as in larger ensembles with guest artists; their first concert on November 17, 2013 was recorded by CBC and featured on the programme “In Concert.” Trio Arkel plays at the historical Church of the Holy Trinity at the Eaton Centre ; please visit the link below.

In June 2010 Ms. Zelenka released her first CD set of J.S. Bach’s Six Suites for Solo Cello (Marquis Classics). It has received international acclaim, and in 2011 was nominated for a JUNO award in the category of Classical Album of the Year: Solo or Chamber Ensemble. She has also played the complete Bach Suites at the Stratford Summer Music Festival, and performed solo works on stage with the National Ballet of Canada. Ms. Zelenka’s films with Moving Head Productions include interviews for BOLD TV and a complete performance of the Cassado Suite for solo cello, viewed by thousands on YouTube. In June 2012 she released Connections, her second recording comprised of sonatas for cello and piano written by French composers, with the celebrated pianist Connie Shih (Marquis Classics).

Winona Zelenka obtained her Bachelor of Music and Artist Diploma at the Indiana University, where she studied with Janos Starker. Her other formative teachers were William Findlay, Vladimir Orloff, and William Pleeth. She has previously won orchestral positions in England, Canada, and the United States. Her professional career has included two seasons of Acting Principal Cellist of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, and five seasons as Acting Principal Cellist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

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