THE SLOVAK SINFONIETTA ŽILINA is one of the best known professional orchestras in Eastern Europe and holds a very important position in Slovak musical culture. It was founded in 1974 as the only "Classical period" chamber orchestra in Slovakia. Since then the orchestra has attained a prominent position in both Slovak and Czech Republics, as well as developing a considerable international reputation.
Its 34 members are graduates of the major Czech and Slovak music academies, and many of them are winners of international competitions and active both as soloists and chamber musicians. The quality of the players, together with the experience and musicianship of the founding music director and conductor Eduard Fischer (1930-1993) brought about the quick artistic growth of the orchestra.
By 1977 the orchestra attained international recognition when it was invited to the Salzburg Festival and designated the official orchestra of that prestigious festival. Soon after, followed appearances at the "Prague Spring" and the major festivals throughout Europe, including Wiener Festwochen, Viennese "Spring Festival", Haydn Festival, Festa Musica Pro in Italy, Festival de Cataluňa in Spain, Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Mozartfest Schwetzingen, Mozart Sommer Schloss Salem, Festival van Vlaanderen, Johann Strauss Festival in Vienna, Aspekte Salzburg, Bodensee Festival in Switzerland, Festival de Bonaguil in France, Festival El Djem in Tunisia, Ankara Music Festival, Bratislava Music Festival, NCPA May Festival Beijing and many others, including as far away as the “Festival de Manaus” in Brasil. The Slovak Sinfonietta is one of only three orchestras together with the Vienna and the Berlin Philharmonics, that are annual performers at the Vienna Music Festivals.
The Sinfonietta has played in almost all the world’s great concert halls from St.Petersburg to Tokyo and altogether, the orchestra has given over 2800 concerts in European countries as well as Tunisia, Japan, Brasil, Armenia, Turkey, China, Canada and the U.S.A. Their American tours included performances in many major cities including Chicago, Cleveland and New York.
The Slovak Sinfonietta is in reality, a small symphony orchestra with a very broad repertoire of baroque, classical, early romantic, as well as 20th an 21st century works. The nucleus of their repertoire is the late eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century works. The orchestra also occasionally performs non-traditional programs, mostly for young audiences, high-lighting jazz and popular music.
Among the prominent artists who have performed with the orchestra are conductors: Claus Peter Flor, Peter Maag, Eve Queler, Mika Eichenholz, Christian Benda, Karel Mark Chichon, Marco Armiliato, Martin Sieghardt, Stefan Lano, Vincent La Selva, Misha Katz, Tsugio Maeda, Urs Schneider, Herman Engels, Janusz Powolny, Christian Pollack, Alexander Schwinck, Ernst Märzendorfer, Dwight Bennett, Kerry Stratton, Vladimír Kiradjiev, Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach, Niels Muus, Theodore Kuchar, Francesco Angelico, Georg Mais, Jean Bernard Pommier, Oliver von Dohnányi, Ondrej Lenard, Leoš Svárovský, Vladimír Válek, Ľudovít Rajter, Peter Breiner, Petr Vronský, Daniele Rustioni, Simon Chalk and many others. The orchestra has accompanied some of the great soloists including Igor Oistrach, Václav Hudeček, Liana Issakadze, Daniel Müller-Schott, Augustin Dumay, André Gertler, Baiba Skride, Sophia Jaffé, Dalibor Karvay, Mikhail Gantvarg, Paul Badura Skoda, Jean Bernard Pommier, Timur Sergeyenia, Marián Lapšanský, Vanessa Mae and Narciso Yepes, but has had developed a long association with many of the great singers including Peter Dvorský, Miroslav Dvorský, Edita Gruberova, Lasha Nikabadze, Ildikó Raimondi, Georg Tichy, Ľuba Orgonášová, Sergej Kopčák, Izabela Labuda, Gabriela Beňačková, Gustáv Beláček, Peter Mikuláš, Olivia Stapp, Magdaléna Kožená, Pavol Breslik, Vesselina Kasarova, Vittorio Grigolo, Pretty Yende, Daniele Rigosa and Il DIVO among others.
The Sinfonietta`s many award-winning recordings for OPUS, DONAU, NAXOS, BRILLIANT CLASSICS, OEHMS Classics, HEVHETIA and BMG include works of Vivaldi, Telemann, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Hummel, Verdi, Respighi, Johann Strauss, Richard Strauss, Milhaud, Britten, Martinů, Dvořák, Janáček, Cikker, Vladimír Godár and other composers.
The Music Director of the orchestra between 1995 – 2001 was Leoš Svárovský, one of the best known and distinguished Czech conductors with whom the orchestra made numerous tours and recordings. Maestro Svarovsky developed the orchestra’s exciting energetic sound that is still a hallmark of the orchestra today.
Since 2004 until 2007 the Music Director of the orchestra was the best known Slovak conductor Mr. Oliver von Dohnányi. He had been working regularly with the orchestra even before (concerts, tours, recordings), but as the Music Director he cared for the high artistic level of musicians, warm homogeneous sound of the orchestra and pure performing of each music style. Mr. Oliver von Dohnanyi was appointed again the Chief Conductor of the Slovak Sinfonietta Žilina. He took up his post on March 23, 2011.
Very important role in achievment of the top artistic level of the orchestra has the Chief Conductor emeritus - Japanese conductor Tsugio Maeda. His 22 years work raised the orchestra among the best in Europe.