The Mathilda foundation supports young talented students of music – specifically those who are visually impaired. Since the foundation organizes a range of social events during the year, it offers students a possibility to regularly perform on these events, either for large audiences with an orchestra or various more modest venues such as vernissages, baptisms and auctions.
High-quality musical instruments are very expensive – making their purchase quite prohibitive for most students. At the beginning of a student’s life, having a more “run-of-the-mill” instrument is OK. But as they play and perform more and more, and as they become more experienced and better, they soon begin needing a high-quality instrument that better matches their talent, work and engagement.
In addition to its other activities, the Mathilda foundation strives to help talented visually impaired musicians obtain high-quality instruments which they would probably not be able to obtain on their own. We hope this will provide at least a little bit of help to start their musical careers.
Events organized by the Mathilda foundation already included performances by the following artists
Rachel Sklenickova – piano
Rachel was born in 1992 in Prague, and has been blind since birth. She started learning the piano when she was 4 years old from MgA. Jana Blahova at the Jan Deyl conservatory, which at that time also accepted young children. After that she worked with a number of diverse piano teachers. In 1999, she began attending the elementary school of Jaroslav Jezek in Hradcany, and she later shortly also attended the Lysolaje elementary school (2001-2002). Her musical career was positively influenced by her time at the eight-year grammar school of Jan Neruda, where she was taught by prof. Růžena Učňová. There she completed her elementary education and also remained for the follow-up four-year studies (2003-2007). In the end, she decided to return where it all began – the Jan Deyl conservatory. Over the next 6 years, she studied and still studies the piano under MgA. Jana Köhlerova. Her second field of studies is singing. Rachel attended a number of competitions: in May 2011 she was selected as a laureate for the VSA Arts Washington D.C. competition. In October 2011, she took part in a competition organized by the Pardubice conservatory, where she won the third prize in the piano category. Additionally, she also participated in two of the annual piano competitions held in Brno under the auspices of prof. Ivan Klansky. In addition to her musical skills, she also studies foreign languages and is fluent in English and Finnish. When she’s not training the piano, she spends her free time reading, doing sports (especially skiing, swimming and biking) and also often attends various cultural events.
Martin David – flute
Martin David graduated at the Jan Deyl conservatory under the tutorage of Mgr. Magdalena Hegerova. He has collected a number of successes at concerts, such as a performance with the West-Bohemian Symphonic Orchestra in Mariánské Lázně, the chamber orchestra of the Prague Conservatory and the chamber orchestra of Berg (the Spanish hall of the Prague Castle). He also took part in an international festival in Warsaw titled “Chopin in classical and modern”. Martin is currently studying at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno.
Miroslav Orsag – baritone
Miroslav was born in 1989, in the city of Vsetin. He has intensively focused on music since the age of four. He attended the Artistic Elementary School in Karolinka, where he learned to play the fipple flute and piano and also learned to sing. He was then accepted at the Jan Deyl conservatory in Prague, and is currently in his fourth year. His primary field is classic solo singing, taught by prof. Daniela Stepanova-Simunkova. His second field is then the accordion, where he is tutored by Prof. Roman Maly. He took part and succeeded in several singing competitions, including: the international competition of Bohuslav Martinu where he won first prize and the prize of Beno Blacuta (2007), and the competition of the Pardubice conservatory where he won the second (2008) and first (2010) prize for the interpretation of a song of A. Dvorak. In 2009, he performed with Petra Musilova at a concert of the Hradec Kralove philharmonic, and recorded a selection of Biblical songs by A. Dvorak in collaboration with the Czech Radio. He was chosen for performances organized by the Office of the Czech Republic, for instance on the occasion of the visit of the British Prince Charles. Miroslav also regularly performs at concerts and closely works with the Czech Television, which is currently preparing a document about his life to date.
Eva Blazkova – flute
Eva is in the fourth year of the Jan Deyl conservatory and also attends the high school for the visually impaired in Prague. Her two primary fields are the flute, under the tutorage of MgA. Magdalena Hegerova, and classical singing under the auspices of MgA. Daniela Stepanova-Simunkova. She has pursued these areas since childhood and has excellent results in both of them. In 2011, she performed at a concert of the Prisma trio. In 2013, she also performed with Anezka Kufova and the Talich Chamber Philharmonic within the subscriber-only series of this leading Czech orchestra. She regularly participates in master courses on the flute and singing. She has attended the Summer Flute courses in Ceske Budejovice, organized under the auspices of prof. Frantisek Malotin, for several years. Last year, she participated in courses in Kunin which focused on interpretation of baroque music. In addition, she also took part in several seminars with the leading flute performer Clara Novakova. In the area of singing, she often performs at concerts and competitions. Her latest successes include participation and third place in the Opera Hopefuls competition, which was for the first time held as part of MPSAD in Karlovy Vary.
Jakub Blazek – fipple flute, mouth organ
Jakub developed an interest in music already before his school years. He studied the piano and fipple flute at the elementary school of arts. At that time, he successfully represented his school at a range of Prague-based competitions in the fipple flute, and he actively plays this instrument to this date. The competitions he attended were both for individuals and chamber orchestras. After completing his 1st-level studies of the piano, in 2013 he switched to the saxofon. His focus is continuously shifting more and more towards jazz, blues and improvisation. Aside from the instruments mentioned above, he lately began to intensively play on the mouth organ. The diatonic organ he uses for his blues improvisation has lately become his main obsession. He is currently preparing for an important competition in the flute, which will be held in Prague at the end of March.
Petra Musilova – soprano
Petra was born in 1987 and currently studies the 7th grade with a focus on solo singing in the class of MgA. D. Stepanova-Simunkova and on the organ, at the Jan Deyl conservatory. In 2008 she received a stipend for the master singing courses of A. Carangela, whom she still intensively works with today, and one year later she attended the master singing courses of A. Dvorak in Karlovy Vary. In April 2009, she won the third prize at the international Duska competition in the category of conservatories and musical academies. She regularly performs at concerts – her collaborations include for instance the Leontinka foundation, she performed under A. S. Weiser with the Hradec Kralove Philharmonic, sang on the occasion of the visit of the British Prince Charles, performed concerts for first ladies of several European countries and for the Czech presidential couple. She sings in several scenic projects (Mozartiada, Rozmaryn, Vanocni jeslicky), with which she also attended events such as the Festival of Chamber Singing in Plzen. This year, she will perform at the International Festival of Bohuslav Martinu in Policka. Last but not least, she participated in the recording of a melodic DVD for the Music in Darkness project.
Makabara – singing
Makabara is the name of a female vocal trio consisting of Marie Vostatkova (1st soprano), Kateřina Ulicna (2nd soprano) and Barbora Janova (alt), all of whom are graduates of the Jan Deyl conservatory. The trio was created in 2004 and its repertoire includes Czech folk songs, spirituals, Hebrew songs, compositions of contemporary authors (Zdenek Sestak, Zdenek Lukas, Jiri Doubek, Jiri Pavlica) and last but not least also popular songs. “We did not originally plan to create a vocal trio, however the opportunity presented itself and our three voices were in so much harmony that we decided to start and focus on the project”, said the performers in one of their interviews. The kickstarter for their career was their win in the prestigious Young Soloist Awards, organized in the U.S. in 2007. This was followed up by several concerts in the U.S. (Washington, Houston, Baltime etc.). The trio now regularly performs at home and occasionally also works with Zdena Kloubova (soprano), the conductor Debasish Chaudhuri, the Plzen Philharmonic and others.
Marek Duda – trombone
Marek’s eyesight was significantly impaired already from his childhood. He began attending the standard elementary school in Plzen, but could not stay there for more than 4 years. In 2002 he moved to a school for visually impaired children in Plzen, where he became acquainted with speaking computers for the blind and various orientation tools as well as sports for the visually impaired. He was especially fascinated by goalball and showdown. In 2007 he joined a hotel management school, where he trained to be a chef; he had arranged a special teaching regime to be able to attend the school. His eyesight began to further deteriorate at that time. In the third year at the school, his doctor banned him from entering the kitchen, for his own safety. The school allowed him to continue his studies with an individualized plan. After two years, his eyesight deteriorated even further and he purchased his guide dog Chelsea. In 2012 he successfully graduated. He had been practicing various musical instruments since childhood, and so he knew his next target – the conservatory for the visually impaired in Prague. He is currently enrolled and studies the trombone.
Tomas Pavlan – piano
Tomas was born in Ostrava in 1970. He began developing his musical skills between 1977 and 1985 at the J. Jezek elementary school in Prague. He played the accordion and various types of flutes and also the piano, which he studied between 1980 and 1985 under the piano, organ and violin player Blahoslav Rataj, whom he still performs with. Between 1985 and 1992 he studied at the J. Deyl conservatory, specifically with a focus on the accordion, clarinet and piano, under prof. Jan Prazak. Between 1993 and 2000 he taught music theory, the flute, clarinet and especially keyboard instruments at the Music-Art school. In the second half of the nineties, he performed in jazz clubs in the Czech Republic and abroad, especially in the Netherlands and in Germany near the city of Bonn. In 2001, he recorded his author CD titled In the Corner of Four Ears. He performs on several albums of Jiri Dedecek and he also worked with Ester Kocickova and Lubomir Nohavica. He is an admirer of Jaroslav Jezek. Tomas is currently returning to the podiums of jazz establishments after a break, during which he mostly focused on the development of computer systems for the blind.
Roman Schenk – piano
Roman was born in 1976 and has studied at the Jan Deyl conservatory in Prague since 1992, where he attended the piano class of Iva Skalakova and the clarinet class of Jiri Urban. Already during his studies, he had numerous performances at concerts both in the Czech Republic and abroad (Sweden). In 2000, he received a honorable award on the IX. International Competition for Visually Impaired Musicians in Prague. He completed his studies of both of his fields at the conservatory in 2000, and he is currently a teacher at the Jan Deyl conservatory. He also continues to perform at concerts, both as a soloist and in a duet with the violinist Jan Stepan, a professor at the Deyl conservatory. Roman also performed at concerts of students and pedagogues which were broadcasted by Czech Radio 3 – Vltava, as part of the “Vltava Live” show. In 2002, he performed with Jan Stepan on several concerts which were part of the Art Day of the Blind in Moravia. In December of the same year, he performed Beethoven’s first piano concert in the Spanish hall of the Prague Castle accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra of Prague Symphonists led by the conductor Tomas Netopil. In November 2003, he performed with the West Bohemian Symphonic Orchestra of Marianske Lazne under Mario Kosik.