Conduct Me!

Just got home from an hour long live radio interview at Klub Radio. I spoke about the past, about Hungary and the U.S., about conducting, playing the clarinet and composition.
I got to speak about Peter Eötvös
http://eotvospeter.com
the Huntsville Symphony
http://hso.org
the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
http://mrze.hu
and first and foremost about the Armel Opera Festival.
http://armelfestival.org
If you happen to speak or at least understand Hungarian, you are welcome to listen to the show online here :)
http://klubradio.hu
The show is called ‘Örömzene’ which translates as “jam session for fun”.
The last segment of the interview was all about the two hour daily program of the Armel Opera Festival in the frame of the the Sziget Festival
http://szigetfestival.com
the biggest rock-pop music summer festival in Central Europe.
Starting tomorrow the Armel Opera Festival presents a two hour long fun and interactive musical program including a series of “Opera Sitcom” performed by the students of the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, directed by Andras Almasi Toth. I’ll be leading the audience in an interesting improvisation exercise based on a composition by Peter Eötvös called “Triangel”. Audience members will be distributed triangles of all shapes and sizes and I will play along with me, also hitting three different size triangles wherever I can. The program ends with ‘Conduct Me!’ where brave audience members can get a crash course in conducting from me and get in front of the orchestra and singers and conduct live. On the rep: Aria of The Queen of the Night, Brindisi by Verdi, Prelude and Habanera from Carmen.
I am looking forward to the challenge of engaging audiences that are not necessarily familiar with classical music and opera and make them realize how much fun it actually is to discover Mozart and even contemporary classical music for yourself. I am also happy to share the same island (on river Danube) with several thousand of music lovers and artists like Robbie Williams, the Gogol Bordello or Mariza.

Summer Fun with Bartok, Sibelius and Opera

After taking a short summer break and using most of it to compose Clarinet Symphony (premiere next February with the Hungarian Radio Symphony at Palace of the Arts in Budapest) I am ready to pick up the baton again this weekend. Lajos Balogh, Music Director of the Portland Festival Symphony invited me to guest conduct at two of the PFS summer park-concerts. I get to conduct two of my long time favorites, Romanian Folk Dances by Bartok and Finlandia by Sibelius. It is great to make music again with some of the retired musicians of the Oregon Symphony and other players from the area I have worked with before.
I will be sharing the stage with Lajos Balogh
http://portlandfestivalsymphony.org
and with
Michael Allen Harrison
http://www.tengrands.com

Yes, it is hot out there, but these parks are so beautiful and you will be able to find a spot with some shade for sure. Come out and enjoy great music and some outdoor picnic fun!
http://portlandfestivalsymphony.org/venues.html#cathedralpark

Soon I will be taking off to Hungary where I will be leading some fun, interactive musical programs at Sziget Festival
http://szigetfestival.com

Every day between 6 and 8PM The Armel Opera Festival presents a program of ‘Opera Sitcom Series’ and some contemporary music improvisation as well as letting audience members conduct the Armel Festival Orchestra in famous opera numbers like the aria of The Queen of the Night. “Sziget” is not only the biggest rock/pop-music festival of Central Europe but also a great place to promote classical music and opera.

Please check out the website of the Huntsville Symphony as well! Single tickets are on sale for our 2015-16 season!
http://www.hso.org

Hope you are all enjoying your summer and getting just the right amount of daily classical music! :)

Queen Of The Night and Private View

Tonight we concluded the 2015 Armel Opera Festival in Budapest, Hungary with two one act operas performed by the Josef Kajetán Tyl Theater (Plzeň,Czech Republic). The international jury Esther Lehoczky, Commissioning Editor of the Arts Department of Arte TV, Henry Little, Chief Executive of Orchestras Live, Dieter Kaegi, General Director of Theater and Orchestra of Biel-Solothurn-Bienne/Soleur, Kjell Englund, Managing and Artistic Director of Norrlandsoperan, Umea, Sweden and myself decided on Best Performance and Best Singer of this year’s festival.
French soprano Marlène Assayag won Best Singer Award for her performance in The Magic Flute directed by Robert Alfoldi.
Best Performance Awared went to: Van Parys: Private View performed by Muziektheater Transparant (Antwerpen, Belgium), directed by Tom Creed.
The Jury decided to give a Special Award to Pannon Philharmonic for their outstanding work in Donizetti’s The Siege of Calais and in Van Parys: Private View.

Everyone can cast a vote online for one production during the next four weeks.
Click here:
http://concert.arte.tv/fr/search/site/armel
The production that gets the most votes from the audience will be presented a prize once the voting ends. Please consider watching this years performances and voting for the one you think is the best!

Armel Opera Competition and Festival 2015

I feel really fortunate that I got to spend the last 10+ days in the U.S. It is always amazing to witness historic changes real time. No matter what your opinion is on the three decisions made by SCOTUS, I am sure you all agree that they qualify most definitely for a historic event.
When not following history in the making I spent my time writing Clarinet Symphony for the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and making sketches for a libretto for a possible new opera.

This week I am back in Hungary. I am honored to be on the Jury of the Final Competition of Armel Festival.
http://armelfestival.org/en/
Five performances from five countries with five you singers in competition roles. The festival starts with The Magic Flute directed by Robert Alfoldi.
http://wikipedia.org
The performance is officially sold out. You can all watch it live on MEZZO TV
http://concert.arte.tv/fr

and you can also vote on your favorite performance after watching all of them. You might be able to catch an interview with me in one of the intermissions.
Stay tuned for more posts on Armel 2015!

Equal Crossing Roads

I’ve spent the last week at the Budapest Music Center teaching conducting at the “Boulez 90″ masterclass for conductors and composers.
The masterclass was organized by the International Eotvos Institute Foundation
http://eotvospeter.com
The final concert of the master class, conducted by select students can be listened to live here
http://radio.hu Just click on Radio/ Bartok and start listening at 1:35PM EST
The Eotvos Foundation printed some great fliers for the master class and the concert as well. They picked traffic signs like “Equal Crossing Roads”
http://wikipedia.org
to represent the main message of the events.
Philippe Manoury
http://wikipedia.org
and
Matthias Pintscher
http://matthiaspintscher.com
are crossing roads for two days here in Budapest. They arrived yesterday, gave lectures and participated in a discussion for the ‘MUSTmeet Composer’ Series with my moderation and will be here for the concert tomorrow. The Hungarian Radio is doing interviews with both of them and the Goethe Institut Budapest, one of the sponsors of the events is making a video about the master class and the concert as well. I will post the video on FaceBook as soon as it becomes available.

Credits to my fellow professors: Peter Eotvos, Jean Philippe Wurtz
http://ensemble-linea.com
to THReNSeMBle
http://www.thrensemble.com
and to the staff of the International Eotvos Institute Foundation for making this master course a success!
I had a lot of fun!

Program, Play, Repeat, Keep It Interesting

The most difficult set of concerts I have ever done in my life was a 5 day-8 concert series with City Music Cleveland. Coming up with 8 different yet valid versions of Beethoven 8 in just 5 days was an extremely difficult task. The whole point of live music performance is to do things differently from one performance to the next. Whenever one gets to perform great war horses, like Carmina Burana, the pressure is on. You have to deliver your own version of a master piece without losing the true spirit of it. This is the real magic trick!
On Thursday the Rochester Oratorio Society, the Rochester Philharmonic, Leslie Ann Bradley, Anton Belov and Anthony Webb and myself performed a truly operatic, dramatic and at some points extremely funny Carmina Burana. I am looking forward to pulling another and different [!] rabbit out of my hat tonight.
http://rpo.org
I very much enjoyed sinking my teeth into Roberto Sierras eccentric ‘Fandangos’ and Ginastera’s ‘Four Dances from Estancia’ as well. Lots of percussion, lots of groove, lots of energy!

It is a real honor and a lot of fun to conduct the season finale classical set with the RPO! These two concerts also mark the end of my 2014-15 season. No more conducting until a couple of summer concerts in August.

Starting next week I will be teaching a 10 day master class at the Budapest Music Center.
http://bmc.hu

At the end of June I’ll be one of the judges of the International Armel Opera Competition and Festival. http://armelfestival.org

Soon I will be posting about the 2015-16 season, too.
Stay tuned!

Faust, An Eternal Will

“I, Faust, an Eternal Will” -sings Csaba Szegedi
http://csabaszegedi.com
in the role of Doctor Faust in the unfinished opera by Ferruccio Busoni.
http://wikipedia.org
Completed by Antony Beaumont, edited and cut to 90 minutes by director Mate Szabo
http://port.hu
and myself tomorrow’s performance will be the Hungarian premiere of this early 20th Century opera. As part of the “Faust 225 Festival” I will be leading the orchestra of the Hungarian State Opera and chorus and select principal singers in two performances only.
I am happy to have hundreds of opera lovers join me on Friday and Sunday, along with some of my Huntsville friends to enjoy this unique work at the beautiful downtown Budapest building of the State Opera
http://opera.hu
Both shows are virtually sold out.
Almost two years ago I posted about all the operas and ballets I had the pleasure to conduct during my professional career so far.
http://gregoryvajda.com
As of today I am happy to add the following operas to this list:
Ernst von Dohnanyi: The Tenor
Peter Eotvos: Lady Sarashina
Ferruccio Busoni: Doktor Faust

May, The Month Of Bells

Two concerts with Symphony Silicon Valley this weekend, one down one more to go. On the program:
Tchaikovsky: Romeo and Juliet Overture Fantasy
Debussy: Nocturnes
Rachmaninov: The Bells
http://symphonysiliconvalley.org
This is my second time conducting Rachmaninov’s “choral symphony”. Here is my blogpost from 2013 about my performance with the Hungarian Radio Symphony with an “all about bells” theme:
http://gregoryvajda.com
The sound of the famous “Russian Bells” of course can be found in Tchaikovsky’s Overture Fantasy as well, and also in the delicate sounds of Debussy’s mezmerising Nocturnes, with female voices added to the mix of the orchestra timbres.
More bells for me in the coming weeks. In between rehearsals and performances I spent most of my time in my hotel room while in San Jose, CA. Let me tell you, I was missing out on some beautiful weather. I spent several hours preparing my score and making additional cuts to Busoni’s opera, Doctor Faust. Two semi-staged performances are coming up at the Budapest Opera. The entire opera starts with the sound of Easter Bells and ends with the sound of more bells accompanying the strange and actually pretty blasphemous apotheosis of Dr. Faust.
http://opera.hu
I am happy to have some of my Huntsville friends in Budapest for the second performance. They will be on a cruise ship on the Danube and will be stopping by in Budapest just in time to see me conduct Doktor Faust. I am looking forward to showing them around in my hometown and to spend some fun times together in my neck of the woods.

On A High Note And More

The 2014-15 Season of the Huntsville Symphony is ending on a high note, well actually on many high notes. The amazing Elina Vahala
http://elinavahala.com
is back to play the powerful and extremely difficult Violin Concerto #2 by Bela Bartok. Our last classical concert opens with Les preludes by Franz Liszt and closes with Brahms’ Symphony No.1.
Just this week HSO has announced its 2015-16 season. Please click on this link to find out about all the details
http://hso.org
My busy 15-16 season continues. Next week I am off to San Jose, CA to conduct a choral program with Symphony Silicon Valley. Right after that I jump into the production of Doctor Faust by Italian composer Ferruccio Busoni at the Budapest Opera, then back to the US to conduct the Rochester Philharmonic. Stay tuned! Also do not forget to Tune In on WLRH tomorrow morning 9AM EST to listen to Ginny Kennedy and myself talking about the Saturday concert and about the next season of HSO.
http://wlrh.org
In the meantime here is the review of my concert with the Omaha Symphony from last week for your reading pleasure.
http://omaha.com

Musical Metabolism

Metabolism: the sum of the physical and chemical processes in an organism by which its material substance is produced, maintained, and destroyed, and by which energy is made available.
There is sure a lot of energy made available during the performance of Métaboles by Henri Dutilleux. What a great showpiece for orchestra! It comes second on our program this weekend with the Omaha Symphony. The concert opens with Debussy’s Danse (Tarantelle Styrienne) orchestrated by Maurice Ravel himself. Concluding the first half is the virtuoso Violin Concerto #3 by Saint-Saens. My soloist for this piece is the amazing David Kim, concert master of the Philadelphia Orchestra
http://davidkimviolin.com
After a varied and fairly long first half we are playing only one composition for the second half of the concert. Shostakovich Symphony #1 is a long time favorite of mine. Written by a 19yo composer this symphony has everything we love Shostakovich for without the long shadow of Comrade Stalin over it.
About 9 years ago I was invited to conduct the Omaha Symphony for its last concert in their old concert hall. I was also asked to do a rehearsal in the then not yet finished new hall to help the acoustic adjustments the venue needed. This time I am really fortunate to conduct two shows of a truly exciting program in the Holland Center’s beautiful concert hall.