Ondřej Vrabec (1979) is an extraordinary figure on the Czech music scene. Many leading instrumentalists feel an affinity for the conducting baton from time to time, yet few can say that they have full, top-level training in both fields, that they have been engaged in both at the highest level for a long time and that their results are accepted with equal recognition and respect by the professional community. In spite of numerous prophesies of his departure from the instrumental field, Ondřej Vrabec continues, after over two decades, to successfully advance his artistic career as an award-winning conductor, seasoned solo horn player at the Czech Philharmonic, sought-after chamber musician and, newly, respected teacher of the main discipline at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague.
He graduated from the Prague Conservatory (prof. B. Tylšar, V. Válek, H. Farkač, M. Němcová, M. Košler) and the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (prof. R. Eliška, J. Bělohlávek, F. Vajnar and others). He supplemented his studies with numerous master classes (e.g. London Master Classes, Hornclass, the French-Czech Academy of Music). The most valuable impulse shaping his artistic approach was his long-term concert collaboration with the elite of the international school of wind (S. Azzolini, M. Bourgue), while in the conducting field artistic support from important international conductors (Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Benjamin Zander, Jiří Bělohlávek etc.). Ondřej Vrabec holds the title of absolute winner in the Conservatory Competition in Ostrava, while he won several other laureate titles as a chamber musician (Concertino Praga, Chomutov, the Mozartova obec competition, etc.). At the Prague Spring 2007 and Tokyo 2015 international conducting competitions he was awarded honourable mentions by the juries. He was first chair in the French horn group of the Czech Philharmonic even before sitting his school-leaving examinations at the age of 17.
He has performed as a soloist with dozens of domestic and foreign orchestras (including the Czech Philharmonic, Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra,, Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, Bayerisches Kammerorchester, NCPAO Peking, Sólistes Européens Luxembourg, Augsburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Státní filharmonie Košice, Ostravská banda, Rzeszow Philharmonic, Lviv Philharmonic) under prominent conductors (Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Edo de Waart, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Ilan Volkov, Lü Jia, Johannes Kalitzke, Bruno Ferrandis etc.). He also presents a public face through his solo recitals. He is intensively involved in chamber music (primarily the Brahms Trio Prague and the PhilHarmonia Octet, formerly the Maurice Bourgue Ensemble, Juventus Quintet, Czech Philharmonic Horn Club etc.). He is also regularly invited to foreign orchestras as guest solo horn player (Seoul Philharmonic, Antwerp Symphony Orchestra, in the past Tonkünstler Wien etc.). He has produced a huge quantity of studio and live recordings for Czech Radio and many CD titles. The Brahms Trio Prague profile disk, recorded using a unique technical method with his own musical and audio direction, has enjoyed exceptional acclaim both at home and abroad, and was reviewed by the prestigious American magazine Fanfare as probably the world’s best ever recording of the Trio in E-flat major, Op. 40 by J. Brahms. Ondřej Vrabec has directly and indirectly stimulated the creation of a large quantity of contemporary compositions for the most varied instrumental groups in combination with the French horn. The majority of them are dedicated to him, with their international premieres being both performed and, as a rule, recorded by him. He is also heavily engaged in pedagogical activities – in addition to his work at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague he often runs master classes (Japan, Canada, Great Britain, Czech Republic) and also worked for a long period of time with the Japanese educational company And Vision Inc. in Tokyo.
As a conductor, Ondřej Vrabec performs with the majority of professional Czech orchestras, including the Czech Philharmonic, where from 2010 he held the unofficial position of conductor’s assistant. In the 2014–2017 seasons he was appointed the chief conductor’s assistant, and from this position became, after Jiří Bělohlávek, the most frequently performing guest of our premier ensemble. He has also appeared on the podium with several foreign ensembles (e.g. Japan Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, Reykjavík Chamber Orchestra, Státní filharmonie Košice, London Soloists Chamber Orchestra, Galeria Wind Orchestra Tokyo, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Oradea State Philharmonic, Uzhgorod Philharmonic, Lviv Virtuosi etc.). He has performed at international festivals (Prague Spring, Anima Mundi, Mitte Europa, Český Krumlov etc.). For many years he was a permanent member of an international team of conductors at the internationally renowned festivals of contemporary music – Ostrava Days and NODO. His operatic productions include the international premiere of the operas “Sezname, otevři se!” by Martin Smolka, “Táhlý zvlněný pohyb podélného předmětu” by Petr Cígler and “Encounter” by Mojiao Wang, the critically acclaimed production of the opera “The Rape of Lucretia” by B. Britten and two productions of “The Marriage of Figaro” by W. A. Mozart. He led the Prague Chamber Philharmonic’s first ever tour to South Korea (2011) and China (2012–2013). In cooperation with the Czech Philharmonic he has already recorded three CDs, which include the complete symphonic works of British composer Andrew Downes (Artesmon/Czech Philharmonic label), The Planets by Gustav Holst and Honegger’s 2nd Symphony (Octavia Records – Japan). He has recorded another two titles with the Czech Philharmonic Collegium, namely the DVD “Proměny” (Universal Music, voted album of the year) and a CD of concerts for violin and viola (with Gabriela Demeterová, Supraphon). With the Czech Philharmonic he also frequently prepared concerts on behalf of important international conductors (Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Semjon Byčkov, Valerij Gergijev, Manfred Honeck and Jiří Bělohlávek).