Winona Zelenka, known for her gorgeous, singing tone, is one of Canada’s finest cellists on the scene today. As a soloist, she has performed concerti with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (Strauss’ Don Quixote Suite, 2006), and many other Canadian ensembles; Lalo’s Cello Concerto in D Minor with the Mississauga Symphony (2008), Saint-Saëns’ Cello Concerto No. 1, with both the Scarborough Philharmonic (2007) and the Huronia Sinfonietta (2006); Haydn’s Concerto No. 2 in D Major with the Canadian Sinfonietta (2007), Dvorak Concerto with the Toronto Philharmonic (2012) Elgar Concerto with the Etobicoke Philharmonic and the Toronto Philharmonic (2013), and Shostakovich Concerto No. 1 with the Red Deer Symphony (2014). The season of 2016/17 will see Winona performing SaintSaëns Concerto with the Symphony on The Bay. Ms.Zelenka is also an enthusiastic proponent of new music, and has had several pieces written for her by Canadian composers, including Michael Pepa, Michael Oesterle and Chris Paul Harman.
In 2008, Ms. Zelenka performed as guest Principal Cellist for the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Tosca. She also served as Principal Cellist of the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra during the summers of 2007 and 2008, and was guest Principal Cellist for the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa for the season of 2013/14. Winona, a member of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since 2001, was that orchestra’s Acting Principal Cellist for five seasons starting from 2004/2005, and is presently Assistant Principal Cellist.
Winona is a dedicated recitalist and chamber musician, collaborating regularly Canada’s finest musicians; internationally, she has also performed several times with the Zuckerman ChamberPlayers, and regularly plays with the ARC Ensemble, with whom she has toured in Europe and will also record in the fall of 2016. Winona has performed as soloist at the Ottawa Chamberfest and at the Stratford Summer Music Festival and has most recently played principal cello for the Classical Tahoe and Napa Valley festivals.
Ms. Zelenka is a founding member of Trio Arkel, along with Marie Bérard, Concertmaster of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra, and Teng Li, Principle Violist of the Toronto Symphony. Together since 2008, they started a series in 2013 called Trio Arkel Presents, where they perform chamber music both well-loved and excitingly new for the Toronto public at Trinity St.Paul’s Centre.
Winona's recording of the complete Bach Suites for Solo Cello was released on the Marquis Classics label in June of 2010. It has received international acclaim, and was nominated for a JUNO award in the category of solo/chamber music CD. The Globe and Mail writes '"Canadian cellist Winona Zelenka gives Bach's solo cello suites a stylish ease that we don't often hear on modern cello." Audiophile Review writes "Zelenka's tone is among the warmest and most invigoratingly burnished that I have ever heard in this music, bar none." and " she astonishes with her emotional vibrancy and control". This recording was made on the "Starker Guarnerius" cello, dated 1707.Winona’s second recording, made in 2012, is called “Connections” and is a collaboration with the wonderful pianist Connie Shih. Her CDs are recorded and produced with her husband Ron Searles, Senior Post-Production Audio Engineer at CBC and founder of Red Maple Sound .
Winona’s videos of the Cassado Suite for Solo Cello have garnered many thousands of views on Youtube, as have videos done for Moving Head Productions and CBC. She has also been the cello soloist of such notable film scores as Atom Egoyan’s “Adoration” (2008), István Szabó’s “Being Julia” (2004), and the IMAX film “Under The Sea” (2009).
Winona Zelenka began her career at age 22 as Associate Principal in the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and won orchestral jobs with the National Ballet Orchestra of Toronto and the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester. She obtained her Bachelor of Music and Artist Diploma at the University of Indiana, and studied with the legendary Janos Starker. Ontario born and raised, Ms. Zelenka’s other main teachers include William Findlay, Vladimir Orloff, and William Pleeth.