Dr. Ondras began his violin studies as a full scholarship recipient at Bratislava Conservatory, one of the most prestigious conservatories of former Czechoslovakia. While honing his craft at the conservatory, he participated and received prizes in national and international competitions, including those at numerous Slovak conservatories and the Beethoven’s Hradec. He attended master-classes with leading artists such as Igor Oistrach, toured internationally with the conservatory orchestra (Germany, France) and performed at international music festivals with a chamber music ensemble he established and directed (Turkey, England, Slovenia, Hungary). The Slovak Ministry of Culture awarded Dr. Ondras a full scholarship to study viola at the famous Moscow Conservatory. Once in Moscow, Dr. Ondras studied with such distinguished artists as Fiodor Druzhinin, to whom Dmitri Shostakovich dedicated his last work (Sonata for Viola), and Yuri Bashmet. To further his career and experience Dr. Ondras continued his studies at the Academy of Music Arts in Prague, where his teachers included principal violist of the Czech Philharmonic, Jaroslav Motlik, and the violinist of the Smetana Quartet, Lubomir Kostecky. The academy selected Dr. Ondras to represent the country at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and the Southern Methodist University Summer Festival. The artistic director of Southern Methodist offered him a full scholarship and fellowship to continue his studies in the U.S.
He completed his M.M and D.M.A. degrees at the University of Houston, TX. While studying in Houston, Dr. Ondras participated in world-class music festivals, master-classes, and competitions, as well as professional ensembles. He also taught at both public schools and universities in the greater Houston area. Among the highlights of his graduate studies years are fellowships at the Pacific Music Festival, established by Leonard Bernstein (Japan), the Aspen Music Festival (Aspen, CO), the National Orchestral Institute (University of Maryland), Encore (Cleveland Institute of Music), and Sir George Solti’s Carnegie Hall Project. Fellowships to festivals of such international renown are merit based and are awarded to only a handful of candidates from around the world. Through projects like the one with Sir Solti, Dr. Ondras collaborated with leading figures of the “classical” music world, including conductors and principal players of leading orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the LA Philharmonics, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the NY Philharmonic, to name a few. Performances alongside artists like Christoph Eschenbach, George Solti, Placido Domingo, Andre Previn, Pinchas Zuckermann, Anton Coppola, Sam Adler, Stefan Sanderling, and Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) attest to Dr. Ondras’ scope of professional activities.
Dr. Ondras’ service in academia began with the Artist of Viola position at Houston Baptist University, TX, where he also performed with the Houston Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Christoph Eschenbach, and the Houston Grand Opera orchestra.
He then accepted the Orchestra Director position at Snow College, Ephraim, Utah. During his first three years there, Dr. Ondras developed several projects that made a significant impact on the college and the community and attracted the attention of Utah Education Board of Regions. Highlights of his tenure there include a groundbreaking European tour by the Snow College Orchestra in 2000, which Dr. Ondras organized, raised funds for, and led. Further, he performed in Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City (UT), and at the opening ceremony for 2002 Winter Olympic Games, also in Salt Lake City, gave lectures and played recitals for the American Viola Society and performed for and chaired/hosted the Viola D’Amore Society International Congress in 2004. In addition, Dr. Ondras developed and directed the SanPete County Community Orchestra and the chamber music series “Arts for Everyone.” He also was invited to present concerts at the Utah Music Teachers Association Conference, the International Viola D’Amore congresses in Poland, Germany, and the U.S., to guest conduct the professional opera company, the Slovak State Opera, Slovakia, and to perform frequently with the Utah Symphony and Opera under the direction of Keith Lockhart (also the director of the Boston Pops Orchestra).
In 2005, Dr. Ondras accepted the position of Orchestra Director at the University of Tampa, FL. He was put in charge of building a new string program. He has actively recruited students through a variety of means, including hosting clinics at Tampa Bay area high schools, guest conducting professional and youth orchestras (such as the Suncoast Symphony, the Pinellas Youth Symphony, and the Hillsborough County Honor Orchestra), performing with the Quartet de Minaret (quartet-in-residence at UT), maintaining a sizable violin/viola/conducting studio, adjudicating both national (FMTA, Young Artists Awards, Walker Rising Stars) and international competitions (Artist Series of Sarasota), and performing with professional ensembles like the Florida Orchestra, the Florida Chamber Orchestra, the Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra, the Orlando Philharmonics, and Opera Tampa.
Dr. Ondras also has established and directed several annual outreach programs at the University of Tampa that include an intensive orchestral workshop for talented string players (Orchestral Academy) and a summer chamber music camp (Quartet de Minaret Chamber Music Workshop). His artistic vision led him to develop collaborative projects with Opera Tampa, as well as the Florida Orchestra. In 2006, he established a first-ever quartet-in-residence (Quartet de Minaret) at UT. Among the performance highlights are appearances at the Encore Series (professional chamber music series), the Sarasota Artist Series (returning in March 2011), and a residency at the Haydn Festspiele in Eisenstadt, Austria. The performances of the quartet were broadcasted on national TV networks in the U.S. and Europe.
Dr. Ondras’ collaboration with composers such as Sam Adler (Julliard School of Music), Gwyneth Walker (Oberlin Conservatory), and Anton Coppola, resulted in a series of guest lectures about new trends in music, music education, and composition. Dr. Ondras coordinated and provided artistic leadership for these weeklong festivals, featuring lectures by featured composers and performances of their music. The latest one featured maestro Anton Coppola (Opera Tampa, NYC Opera, Manhattan School of Music) in preparation of the concert version of his opera Sacco and Vanzetti at UT. The performance featured professional guest artists from New York and Florida and received enthusiastic reviews by the audience as well as music critic Eugene Cropsey (Crosby's Opera House: Symbol of Chicago's Cultural Awakening).
More recently, he led a group of students from the University of Tampa on tour to Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia as a part of a semester-long music history course that Dr. Ondras developed, titled The First Viennese School. Those achievements were acknowledged by the university’s International Programs Office, which awarded Dr. Ondras a study abroad research grant. Besides his performance career and classroom teaching, Dr. Ondras also devotes significant effort and time to research. His research paper on Hindemith has been published in the Journal of the American Viola Society (peer reviewed publication), and his latest article on Scharwenka was accepted for publication in the Journal of the Musical Life (Hudobny Zivot) of Slovakia.