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.

The Science of Music

I saw the fastest human DNA sequencer machine today. Dr. Richard M. Myers showed me around at Hudson Alpha and spoke about the research being done there.

http://hudsonalpha.org

Dr. Myers is going to be one of my conversation partners at Huntsville Symphony’s third Casual Classics concert this Sunday afternoon. The concert is called “The Science of Music”- catchy title but somewhat misleading. We will not be talking about music theory or anything related to musicology. We will not be going into details about the physical properties of sound waves or what material should be used to cover the walls of concert halls. I for sure won’t be talking about the Human Genome project either. We are going to talk however about everything else that comes to mind. Dr. Robert A. Altenkirch President of University of Alabama Huntsville, a real life rocket scientist (hey, we are in Rocket City after all)
http://uah.edu
and Dr. William Wilkerson, Chair of the Philosophy Department at UAH are on the conversation panel as well.
http://uah.edu

Since I grew up with music all around me, it is second nature to me. So, I like to hear non-musicians talk about music. First and foremost, I want to hear what music means to my guests in their words. I want them to tell us in how music has helped them in their own life. We will also touch on the connections between music and different fields of science. We will be having a conversation, illustrated with live music played by the HSO, about topics like entropy (Haydn: Farewell Symphony), infinity (Bach: Never Ending Canon from The Musical Offering), construction and deconstruction (Bach-Webern: Ricercar).

Of course, I have my own strong opinion on how music is related to philosophy, genealogy and physics. Do you want to know what I think? Well then you are just going to have to come to Robert’s Hall at UAH at 3:30 p.m. this Sunday to find out. Who knows, I might even change my very strong opinion in the process… :)

http://hso.org

Armel Auditions

Tomorrow I am off to Paris for a couple of days to listen to 70+ singers auditioning for the International Armel Opera Festival’s 2016 program.
http://armelfestival.org
On April 2 there will be another round of auditions in Budapest at the French Institute. After these rounds I have to pick the young singers who get to compete in these exciting productions among others:
Maria de Buenos Aires by Astor Piazzolla
http://piazzolla.org
Senza sangue by Peter Eotvos
http://eotvospeter.com
Elegy for Young Lovers by Hans Werner Henze
http://wikipedia.org

After the Easter Holidays I am going to do pre-rehearsals for Dr. Faust by Ferruccio Busoni, a semi-staged production that I will be conducting at the Budapest Opera in May.

All About Horns

No, not about the fantasy-horror with Daniel Radcliffe in the main role. Huntsville Symphony’s 5th Classical concert this season was about different horns like the post horn, a tuba and French horns. Our soloist on Saturday, playing the Tuba Concerto by Williams was my good friend and amazing musician- Alan Baer, Principal Tuba, New York Philharmonic.
http://www.baertracksmusic.com
I conducted this beautiful piece a long time ago, but with a bass trombone soloist. In all honesty, the piece works much better with tuba. I am surprised that it is not on the repertoire of all the orchestras around the world. I guess it takes some courage to invite a tuba player as a soloist instead of a violinist or a piano player :). The audience loved the piece and rewarded the performance with a long standing ovation.

The second half of the concert started with one of my all time favorite compositions, the Sextet from the opera ‘Capriccio’ by Richard Strauss (I rearranged it for a small string orchestra) and ended with Till Eulenspiegel’s Marry Pranks. HSO rocked the piece!

In the first half, as an homage to Richard Strauss’s admiration for Mozart’s music we performed the Posthorn Serenade. I had the flutes, oboes and bassoons seated in the front of the orchestra. This emphasized the fact, that the two middle movements of the Serenade are really a hidden Sinfonia Concertante for woodwind instruments.
Chris Coletti http://www.trumpetchris.com
played the famous Post horn solo beautifully. Other than the famous 2nd Trio of the 2nd Menuet with the post horn in it, the trumpet section played on natural trumpets for the entire piece.

One more casual classic about The Science of Music and a classical concert with Liszt, Bartok and Brahms on the program are in store for this season with the HSO. Visit our website for details!
http://www.hso.org

After Opera High

What do you do after the successful premiere of your own opera? You start working immediately on changes based on audience reaction and other factors. Mark Childress and I have been on the phone, Skype, and email several times a day talking about additions and changes to Georgia Bottoms, A Comic Opera Of The Modern South. Mark has written a few awesome and extremely funny short scenes already. In short, there are new words now for me to put into music. However I do need a few weeks of time to detach from the highs of the premiere week before I can start writing music again for Georgia Bottoms.

In the meantime I am composing music for a Norwegian full length stop animation feature. The production teaser is due next week. I am receiving the final version of the teaser for a last look before it gets sent out to the distributor hopefuls. I won’t tell you anything else about this project now, not even the title of the film. I promise to give you an update when it is appropriate.

Another project I picked up again (started working on bits of it a few months back) is the English language adaptation of Peter Eotvos’ latest opera, The Golden Dragon.
http://schott-music.com
It is a lot of fun to be able to get creative with someone else’s music and also to brush up on my German a little bit.

Stay tuned for more posts about upcoming concerts and projects! I’ll be back next week!

Georgia Bottoms: A Success

I’ve been holding off with my blog post about the Georgia Bottoms World Premiere simply because I’ve been working 12 hours last week. It’s been a crazy ride. I don’t think that anybody here has ever done a practically fully staged opera production in just 6 days. We had our first musical rehearsal last Sunday. David Gately finished staging the opera on Thursday, we had one piano run on Friday, orchestra-dressrehearsal and performance on Saturday.
See David’s FaceBook post here:
http://facebook.com

I’ve been holding off with my blog post also because I’ve been living in an imaginary place for the last week. With the help of Mark Childress, David Gately, Vivienne Atkins and the wonderful creative and stage crew Six Points, AL came to life and from now on it is an actual town not only in Mark’s book but also on opera stage.
Read Mark Childress’ FaceBook post here:
http://facebook.com

I would like to thank Everybody: singers, musicians, staff, crew, sponsors and the audience! Having one’s opera performed live is an amazing thing. I am proud of the HSO and thankful for their support and for all their hard work. We sure created something amazing together to celebrate the 60th season of this amazing organization.

At last, enjoy the FaceBook post of Our Georgia: the amazing Rebecca Nelsen.
http://facebook.com

The Bad, The Good and The Great

The GOOD news: tomorrow (Friday) Amadinda Percussion Ensemble and the Hungarian Radio Symphony is going to play an awesome concert under my direction.
http://mupa.hu
The concert will be broadcast live on the radio and can be listened to here
http://mediaklikk.hu
The broadcast starts at 1:35PM EST.
The BAD news: we won’t be premiering my piece, ‘Drums Drums Drums’.
The GOOD news: I will have a chance to do the World Premiere of ‘Drums Drums Drums’ in Huntsville one year to the date of tomorrow’s concert. I will keep you posted on Saturday, February 13, 2016!
The GREAT news: USA Today picked up on Georgia Bottoms and made it the News of the Day from Alabama (2 days ago)
Here is a FaceBook post about the USA Today preview
http://facebook.com
And here is the complete story on AL.COM
http://AL.com
Stay tuned for more Georgia Bottoms news!