Busy Season Finale / Sűrű szezonvég

The 2017-18 Season is coming to an end. Since I arrived to Budapest, Hungary after the last classical concert of the Huntsville Symphony season I have had an extremely busy schedule. A conducting-composition masterclass organized by the Peter Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation took place at the Budapest Music Center. The musicians of the Danubia Symphony Orchestra were conducted by 7 young conductors in Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Punkte and Arnold Schoenberg’s Chambersymphony op.9. Thee new pieces were also premiered, two for string trio, one for violin and piano by young composers. These concerts are always streamed live on the website of the BMC. Everyone has done a great job, and I had fun teaching alongside Peter Eötvös and Alessandro Solbiati.
http://www.wikipedia.org

June 5 was the date of the performance of my opera, Barbie Blue (libretto by András Almási Tóth) as the “matching piece” for Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. This production was part of the ‘BLUEBEARD 100’ Festival of the Hungarian State Opera. At the Erkel Theater (the main opera house building is being remodeled right now and is closed for another season) great singers and the musicians of the State Opera Orchestra did a great job of playing both works (neither of them is easy!), and I enjoyed working with stage director, and former director of the Opera, Miklós Szinetár.
http://www.wikipedia.org
On June 13 I was the conductor of the final exam of the students of the opera department of the Liszt Academy. We have performed a one of a kind, beautiful work, ‘Le vin herbé’ (The Love Potion) by Frank Martin, which practically tells the original version of the Tristan and Isolde story. Unlike the famous Wagner opera, this work is scored for 12 singers, 7 string players and a piano, and has a totally different approach to the legend. Andras Almasi Toth directed the performance, and it was beautifully choreographed by Noémi Kulcsár, artistic Director of the Tellabor Dance Company.

And now, Armel Opera Festival and Competition 2018 is around the corner. I am conducting two performances this year. On July 3 and 4 at the MUTH Theater in Vienna we will be presenting my chamber opera, The Giant Baby, and Lady Sarashina, a one act opera by Peter Eötvös. The latter production is a revival (with a partially new cast) of András Almási Tóth’s staging of the work in collaboration with the Liszt Academy. The Pannon Philharmonic, resident orchestra of the festival will be playing. The Giant Baby was my very first opera. In the last 15 or so years I have composed 3 others, and learned along the way how and what to write for the stage and for operatic voices. I decided to totally rewrite the music for The Giant Baby, and also to rework the libretto with the help of writer Péter Horváth. The Giant Baby is a surrealist story about life in general, and both the music and the staging is aiming at a very special audience, young adults (16+) and adults at the same time. This production is a collaboration between Armel Festival and the Kolibri Theater.
http://www.kolibriszinhaz.hu
János Novák, general director of the theater is doing the staging, and the beautiful puppets are designed by Klaudia Orosz. Here is her page with a couple of photos of her designs.
http://www.kolibriszinhaz.hu
Here is the link to the festival with all the details.
http://www.armelfestival.org
Remember, all performances are LIVE BROADCAST on Arte Concert website and will be available to watch for 6 months afterwards!
There will be two more performances of The Giant Baby in Budapest, on July 6 & 7. With these two performances my season ends and my summer season starts. More about the latter in a later post.

It is a nice coincidence that 3 of my 4 operas happen to be played during the same season. ‘Georgia Bottoms’ had its Hungarian premiere in October, 2017, then there was ‘Barbie Blue’, and now ‘The Giant Baby’ is coming up. Oh yes, and I also made it to the KULT50 selection this year, which is a list comprised by cultural journalists and critics, and published by Fidelio magazine. I was in the 4 artists invited to participate in the press conference. It was a very interesting conversation about Trends and Brands.

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A 2017-18-as szezon hamarosan véget ér. Amióta Budapestre érkeztem a Huntsville Symphony idei utolsó koncertje után, nem volt megállás. Az Eötvös Intézet által szervezett karmester-zeneszerző kurzuson Karlheinz Stockhausen Punkte és Schönberg Kamaraszimfónia című műveit tanítottam. A fiatal zeneszerzők és karmesterek jól szerepeltek, és a Danubia Zenekar muzsikusai is kitettek magukért. Élvezet volt Eötvös Péterrel és Alessandro Solbiati
http://www.wikipedia.org
olasz zeneszerzővel együtt dolgozni.

Június 5-én került az Erkel Színház színpadára Barbie Blue című operám (Almási Tóth András librettójára) mint a Kékszakállú Herceg Vára párdarabja, a Magyar Állami Operaház Kékszakállú 100 fesztiválja keretében. Az előadás második felében a Kékszakállú Szinetár Miklós rendezésében ment, akivel, akárcsak az est négy énekes szólistájával, öröm volt dolgozni. Az Operaház Zenekarának ez úton is külön köszönöm a figyelmes munkát, és a szép végeredményt!

Június 13-án a Zeneakadémia operavizsgájának keretében elvezényelhettem Frank Martin ‘Le vin herbé’ (A szerelmi bájital) című “ellen-Trisztánját”, amelyet 12 tagú kamarakórusra, hét vonósra és zongorára komponált a svájci zeneszerző. Vicces, hogy pont aznap ment, amikor a MÜPÁ-ban Wagner Trisztán és Izoldája. 🙂 Ismét remekül dolgoztunk Kulcsár Noémivel és Almási Tóth Andrással.

Most következik az idei Armel Fesztivál és Opera Verseny. Július 3-án saját művemet, a Déry Tibor szövege alapján íródott Az Óriáscsecsemőt, majd másnap Eötvös Péter Lady Sarashina című egyfelvonásosát vezényelem a bécsi MUTH Színházban, utóbbit a Pannon Filharmonikusok közreműködésével. A Lady Sarashina az Almási Tóth András rendezte Zeneakadémiás produkció felújítása lesz, míg Az Óriáscsecsemőt Novák János rendezi majd, a Kolibri Színház művészeivel, tervező Orosz Klaudia. További előadások az Operett Színház Raktárszínházában július 6-án és 7-én.
Az Armelről és az Arte Concert élő közvetítéseiről itt lehet részleteket megtudni:
http://www.armelfestival.org

Ezzel az idei szezonban 4 operámból 3 kerül színre valamilyen formában, ami csupán a véletlen műve, és mint ilyen valóban a csillagok szép együttállását jelzi. Idén belekerültem a Fidelio KULT50 válogatásába is, és Tenki Réka színésznővel, Ragályi Elemér operatőrrel és Parti Nagy Lajos íróval együtt a KULT50 sajtótájékoztatójára s meghívtak, ahol Trend és Brand címmel érdekes beszélgetésnek lehettem a résztvevője.

Hamarosan újabb posztban jelentkezem majd a nyári szezon eseményeivel.

Music For Different Summers

Bartók: The Wooden Prince (complete ballet with live sand animation)
Stravinsky: The Rite of Spring (performed with live dance)

I have started my summer by leading the conducting master-class with the rep above at the International Bartok Seminar and Festival. It was an honor to be a professor at this esteemed festival. John Cage, Gyorgy Ligeti and other world class musicians and composers have visited the Bartok Festival in small town Szombathely, Hungary back in the days. It was truly the place to be in the summer when I was a student. I myself have started there as a conductor student some 20 years ago, also have studied chamber music with Gyorgy Kurtág as a clarinetist.
This year I’ve had the honor to teach 10 active and a few passive students from all over the world. The closing concert was beautifully presented and very well attended.
After a short stop in Huntsville (there is always something to do when I am in town, and I did use my time wisely for business luncheons, meetings and planning) I have spent the last 10+ days in Portland, OR. I have taken on the role of Incoming Music Director of the Portland Festival Symphony in the last couple of years.

http://www.portlandfestivalsymphony.org

This wonderful organization has been providing free classical music for the Portland audience for over 35 years now. Playing live classical music in very different neighborhoods of the city for kids and adults is a fascinating and very rewarding mission. This year I have programmed overtures by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert along with my own piece “Rough and Ready, an American Outdoor Overture” composed directly for PFS and its outdoor concerts. The concert series ends today with an all strings concert.

I am ready for a brief vacation with my two sons, Balazs and Vince after this week. Well be spending our time in and around Huntsville, AL, and will be visiting the great city of New Orleans, too. After our annual “father and sons” vacation I will be flying to the Island of Jersey to start a hopefully long tradition of “Opera Island”. Armel Opera Festival is branching out and I am really excited about being part of this exciting new experiment. I will definitely post more about “Opera Island” at the end of this month. In the meantime, please check out the Jersey Opera House website for the Armel Festival program here:

http://www.www.jerseyoperahouse.co.uk

It sure feels like the extreme hot weather has been chasing me around. Hot and hotter weather in Szombathely, Budapest, Huntsville, and even in Portland (it was 109 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday, that’s over 42 degrees Celsius). Yet the character of Summer is still different at these very different places, so is the music I have been working on. I find the summer of 2017 striking a nice balance between time off and good work. And yes, there is always composition time whenever I can get it. The new version of my first opera, “The Giant Baby” is in the making. Premiere at the end of June, 2018.

Bartók’s Birds

There is the famous bird trio for flute, oboe and clarinet in Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ symphony. There are the identifiable American birds in Bartók’s Piano Concerto No.3, and the sounds of rural Romania as composed by the young György Ligeti in his Concert Românesque. The 5th classical concert of the Huntsville Symphony fits the overall theme of the season: The Force of Nature.
David Kadouch
https://www.davidkadouch.com
a young and amazing pianist from France is playing the solo piano part of the Bartók Concerto. Needless to say, I am very particular about my Bartók. David has everything a Hungarian maestro’s heart can wish for in a pianist for the Hungarian composer’s last piano concerto. He is not only a virtuoso player but he also knows all the idioms, the unique phrasing, and the sound that is required to perform this music.

Join me and the HSO this Saturday at the VBC to hear three powerful compositions about the power of nature. Experience the power of live symphony music as only we can present it here in the great City of Huntsville!

Fresh Coat of Copland

We are ready for our third Casual Classics concert this afternoon at University of Alabama Huntsville’s Roberts Hall.
Local artist, Pamela Willis is joining the musicians of the Huntsville Symphony to create a painting live, in front of the eyes of the audience in three stages “choreographed” to the music of Aaron Copland. The painting will be auctioned out to benefit the Huntsville Symphony.
On the all Copland program we’ll be presenting
Quiet City for English Horn, Trumpet and strings
Nonet for strings
Appalachian Spring (original version)

I am especially proud of us playing the rarely performed Nonet for strings, a late composition by Copland known mostly for his Americana music. Along with two late, and well-known orchestral pieces, Connotations and Inscape, the style of ‘Nonet’ is not at all like that of Appalachian Spring or Rodeo. This music is more ‘avant-garde’, more contemplative and at points more sinister than the all sunny Copland we all know and admire. Nonet for strings was commissioned by the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library (same as in ‘Dumbarton Oaks Concerto’ by Stravinsky) and is dedicated to Nadia Boulanger “after forty years of friendship.”

Come and join us in an hour at Roberts Hall, and come back to the VBC next weekend to hear our Classical 5 concert with music by Ligeti, Bartok and Beethoven!

https://www.hso.org

Orchestra Tour in Poland

…then there are days when you really don’t have the time to write.

I have just finished my concert with the Hungarian Radio Symphony at the Liszt Academy on November 22 when received a call from the tour manager of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra. They were on the road in Poland and the conductor, János Kovács was hospitalized. I agreed to step in after my Eötvös-Bartók performance in Hamburg (November 23) and joined the orchestra in Wroclaw, Poland the next day. We had a one hour acoustical rehearsal at the amazing new concert hall built for the program of “Cultural Capital of Europe, Wroclaw 2016″, and we hit the ground running with the following program:

Kodály: Dances of Galánta
Liszt: Piano Concerto No.1 (Dávid Báll -piano)
Bartók: Concerto for Orchestra
(Encores: Brahms Hungarian Dance No.1 and Berlioz Rakóczi March)

Thee more concerts followed with great success (and a whole lot of bus riding in between). The Hungarian National Phil musicians and myself were having a ball.

Poland is a lucky country to have so many great, new concert halls. Three out of the four we have performed at were built in the last two years. Among these, the venue for our tour-closing performance was probably the best I have ever performed at (including Disney Hall!). The concert hall of the National Polish Radio Orchestra in Katowice is not only a great work of architecture but also the perfect mix of beauty and functionality with amazing acoustics for symphonic music.

Take a look!
http://nospr.org

This orchestra tour was part of the Hungarian Season in Poland commemorating the 1956 Revolution. Originally Zoltán Kocsis, world famous pianist and music director of the Hungarian National Philharmonic, who just recently passed away, was supposed to conduct all the concerts. We have been performing in his memory as well.

I am back in Hamburg, Germany today. The very last performance of the Eötvös: Senza sangue, Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle production is tomorrow evening at the Staatsoper. The revival is schedueled for February 2018.

Hotel Room With Seven Doors

“Which hotel room has seven doors and enough place for a torture chamber, an armory and a treasure chamber?” – asks critic Peter Jungblut of http://br-klassik.de in his review about the Eötvös/ Bartók double bill of Staatsoper Hamburg. Stage director Dimitri Tcherniakov merged “Senza sangue” and “Bluebeard’s Castle” into a 2 hour long evening with no intermission, and made the two operas into one “Dramatic Soul-Exploration”. After participating in the long rehearsal process of the production (we had our very first rehearsal on September 26) and attending the premiere with composer Peter Eötvös himself in the pit, I am now looking forward to conducting my first of this impressive show. Great singers, powerful music, touching video shorts, captivating images with mesmerizing lighting: this is all Senza sangue-Bluebeard’s Castle, and more. Come and experience it live if you can this month in Hamburg!
I will be the conductor of two more performances after today’s show: one on November 23 and the last one of this run on November 30. In between two shows, on November 22, I will be conducting a concert with the Hungarian Radio Symphony at the Liszt Academy in Budapest. The program is comprised of a World Premiere orchestral song for soprano I composed in memory of my Father and compositions by Haydn and Richard Strauss.
More about this concert soon!

Mozart in the Looney Bin

I am about to take another brief break from Eötvös and Bartók, and take a short trip to London to conduct Mozart’s Magic Flute with the staging of Róbert Alföldi
http://alfoldirobert.eu
as part of the Armel Opera Festival Days at the Hackney Empire Theater.
This is going to be my London debut.
The director has placed Mozart’s magical opera-characters between the walls of a mental institution, where everybody has his or her own mental issue. Magically (pun intended) this idea works really well and highlights some of the more interesting twists and turns of the original story. Just think about it for a second: who is the bad guy here? Is it really the Queen of the Night or is it Sarastro? Is everything black and white like we would like it to be?

Check out the full Armel program at the Hackney Empire here including the ‘In Memory of 1956’ concert program on October 23 conducted by Adam Fischer
http://hackneyempire.co.uk

More Power to the Horns!

In the last few weeks I have been working on Béla Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Peter Eötvös’s Senza sangue, an opera double-bill at the Hamburg Opera in Germany. It is going to be a beautiful staging by Dmitri Tcherniakov, see a NY Times review about his work here http://nytimes.com
with four powerhouse singers in the principal roles, and the orchestra of Staatsoper Hamburg. The performances will all be in November.
I am not sure if the expression of “taking a break from sg” can be applied to my schedule. Conducting Mahler 5 does not sound like a break at all, and it sure is a great challenge for orchestra and conductor alike. Well, I am “taking a break from” opera this week and conducting a program of Mahler’s amazing symphony along with Mozart’s Magic Flute Overture and DiLorenzo’s Phoenix Concerto with the Huntsville Symphony.
http://hso.org
The latter composition was written for the amazing French Horn player William Vermeulen, whom I had the pleasure to work with on a few occasions.
http://vermeulenmusic.com
His playing and our extended horn section for Mahler 5 will sure make this week a powerful one!

I am excited and proud that our Huntsville Symphony can present such divers and exciting program to all the music lovers in the area. At the end of September for our first Casual Classics program called “Yoga with Live Music” we played compositions by Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt and John Cage at Lowe Mill. This week we are back with great symphonic repertoire at the Von Braun Center. Come and join us!

In Nature’s Realm

I am back in Huntsville. The weather is beautiful as always in September. As my friends in Europe are starting to wear their rain coats and sweaters, I still get to dip in the swimming pool in the morning. I love how summer is stretched out here in the South.

Our 2016-17 Season at the HSO is starting with a kind of musical meditation on Nature and on Human Life.

Dvořák: In Nature’s Realm, op. 91
Smetana: The Moldau, from My Homeland
Fauré: Requiem, op. 48

Guest Artists:
Tiffany Boltic-Brown, Terrance Brown and the Huntsville Community Chorus

Visit our website for more information on our opening gala and on the rest of the season.
http://hso.org

Talking about “meditation”, very soon musicians of the Huntsville Symphony and myself will be presenting a Yoga Session with Live Music at one of my favorite venues ever: Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment
http://lowemill.net
More about this concert soon!

Last week was busy (indeed, the Season does not start with the first fall performance but with all the preparation the precedes this part of the year). After finishing the editing of the studio recording of my composition “Clarinet Symphony” (it sounds great and I am hoping to report soon about what happens to the recording itself) I traveled to Szeged (Southern-Hungary) where I did a few pre-rehearsals for Armel Festival’s presentation of The Magic Flute at the Hackney Empire Theater in London, England. I am also preparing for the long rehearsal period at the Hamburg Opera starting at the end of September. I will be adding another opera to my repertoire: Peter Eötvös’ Senza sangue (Without Blood)
http://eotvospeter.com
This new work will be staged alongside with Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle (an amazing piece of music soon to be a 100 years old!).

Nature, music, lot of travel: Season 16-17 here I come!

When Things All Come Together

The title of this post “When Things Come Together” could also be “When Many Things Happen at the Same Time”. Professional achievements in arts do not follow a straight timeline. After finishing a highly successful conducting masterclass for the Eötvös Contemporary Music Foundation (In focus: Bartók, Kurtág and Lachenmann) I dove into the preparation of the Academy of Music production of Hans Werner Henze’s opera, Elegy for Young Lovers. This is the year end stage performance exam of the students and also the closing production of Armel Opera Festival 2016. There will be a live broadcast on the website ARTE TV. Please follow the link next to the production details here:
http://armelfestival.org
Side note: today is Henze’s 90th Birthday and the percussion players of the Pannon Philharmonic presented mini-Milka chocolate bars placed in an upside down cymbal (see picture on FaceBook). I just love these “artsy” coincidences. And chocolate is always good. 🙂
In the meantime ARMEL Opera Festival performances are on every evening (and also can be watched online thanks to ARTE) therefore I spend a lot of time giving interviews to papers, TV and radio stations, cultural websites during the day.
Two days ago László Gőz, director of the Budapest Music Center called a meeting for everybody who participated and helped the making of the first ever studio recording of Peter Eötvös’ opera entitled “Paradise Reloaded (Lilith)”. BMC staff members and leadership (practically the producers of the recording) and colleagues from the Hungarian Radio and from Palace of the Arts (they were co-producers of the 2014 recording and live performance) were there along with the composer himself and his wife (also librettist of the opera). We opened champagne and talked about the long process of how this wonderful recording finally came to life. It took more than two years but things definitely did come together for this project.
I am planning to write in detail about this and another World-premiere recording (Dohnányi: The Tenor) I conducted in 2014-15 once both CDs are available to the general public.

Things all came together in the last few weeks: a busy and successful conducting masterclass, a very promising Henze production rehearsal period, an exciting opera festival, and an intimate celebration of a new product: a contemporary opera’s World Premiere CD recorded in 2014, with a September 2016 release date.