Lots of Work and Plenty of Travel Already in 2018

Hello there and a Happy Belated New Year! I am writing this post at the Atlanta airport lounge, waiting for my flight to Huntsville, replacing the one that was just cancelled a couple of hours ago. Yes, IT IS WINTERTIME and it is coming down hard on the South now, after hitting the North-East of the US.
After a demanding and successful trip to Taiwan and Mainland China (with the Kaohsiung Symphony then with the players of the Hungarian Radio Symphony) I traveled back to Budapest for a couple of days (FYI Turkish Airlines is great!) then packed again to drive to the city of Pecs, where I got to conduct the great Pannon Philharmonic Orchestra. We presented an exciting program, including my piece, Drums Drums Drums, of which we played the Hungarian premiere. Other pieces on the program were: Weill: Little Threepenny Music, Stravinsky: Concerto in D for string orchestra and Hindemith’s powerful Concertmusic for brass and strings. As for Drum Drums Drums, it is now the third set of soloists playing it (however the drum-set part was played by the amazing Gergo Borlai again, who has been part of the World Premiere in Huntsville in 2015), and the piece, I am happy to report, works really well for the audience.
After spending a couple of days in beautiful Southern Hungary (Pecs is only about a 2hr drive from Budapest) I was ready to fly to the Big Apple. Representing Armel Festival as its Artistic Director I have attended 5 shows at the Prototype Festival. I have seen staged concert albums, multi-media music theater works and operas in the traditional sense. It was an impressive line up. I hope that Prototype Festival can become a partner for Armel by as early as 2020, and together we can bring some interesting new works to Budapest, Vienna, and to the screen of ARTE TV as well. Yes, IT IS WINTERTIME, and NYC was way colder than usual. However in the summer I always complain about humidity and high temperatures in manhattan. 🙂
I am ready for a couple of extremely exciting and challenging programs in the next couple of weeks. On Saturday with the Huntsville Symphony I will be conducting Brahms’ Haydn Variations, Beethoven’s Symphony No.7, and sharing the stage again with Elina Vähälä from Finland, who’ll be playing Berg’s beautiful Violin Concerto. More information on the concert here:

http://www.hso.org

After Huntsville it’s Budapest time again, and time for music about machines with the Danubia Symphony at the Liszt Academy. Yes, you read that right, MACHINES!

More about that later!

Until then, here is the link for your enjoyment:

http://www.odz.hu

Threepenny Concert

If you subscribed to one of our concert series (3 concerts each) in the 2013-14 season you got a concert for free. The “free” concert of one of the series’ is happening tomorrow at the newly renovated Franz Liszt Academy of Music.
I designed the program to let every section of the Hungarian Radio Symphony and individual players to shine.

Kurt Weill: Little Threepenny Music
(for woodwinds, brass, banjo, piano, accordion and percussion)
Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta
(the title says it all ☺)
Hindemith: Concert Music for Brass and Strings Op. 50
(this one is a great showpiece orchestrated for 12 brass instruments and strings [no 2nd violin!] in the duration of 20 some minutes)
Ravel: Bolero
(no explanation needed I hope, this is definitely the piece to prove that you are the master of your own instrument)

These four pieces were written between 1928 and 1936. By this time or soon three of the four composers were living in the United States. Europe was marching towards WWII dragging the entire world along. As almost always in the time of massive changes art was thriving. I wanted to put together a program with 4 completely different yet equally energetic and powerful compositions from this era. As usual you can listen to the concert live at
http://www.radio.hu
at 1:30PM EST tomorrow (Friday) or stream it later for another two weeks.
On Saturday afternoon my orchestra and I will be spending a couple of hours in Studio 6 of the Hungarian Radio to present the Bartok piece with some entertaining and informative talk by musicologist Sandor Kovacs in front of a live audience. This episode of the series “Musically Speaking” will be aired at a later time on Radio Bartok (all in Hungarian of course ☺)

Pre-Super Bowl Brass Attack

As Renee Fleming was warming up to make history as the first ever opera singer to perform the National Anthem at the Super Bowl the players of the Huntsville Symphony and myself were doing our share in history making. Seven brass players, Terry Cornett -principal percussion and myself as 2nd percussion performed the US Premiere of a piece by Peter Eotvos called ‘Brass. The Metal Space’. The special venue for our second Casual Classics concert was the Round House at the Huntsville Depot. This ‘action piece’ or ‘instrumental theater’ is a cool way to entertain audiences and educate them at the same time. The concert was all about sound and space (with a very cool glass wall in the background through which you could see an old engine outdoors), about the acoustics of a room and how a contemporary composition enables audience members to re-discover the real meaning of LISTENING. Musicians and audiences alike had a blast this afternoon, and yes, everybody made it home to watch the Super Bowl.

Yesterday evening I led the Huntsville Symphony in another US premiere. We performed ‘The Gliding of The Eagle in the Skies’ (commissioned by the Basque National Symphony) by Peter Eotvos TWICE in one concert! For the pre-concert talk I did a live Skype interview with the composer himself (another historic event for the HSO!), translating his words live to the audience. At the top of the show I introduced his orchestral piece with some demos then played it. At the top of the second half I told everyone in the hall what a great audience they were and made them listen to the Eotvos piece one more time. The Huntsville Symphony is indeed fortunate to have a sophisticated and receptive audience. People listened for the second time and from many comments I know that they appreciated the idea.
The rest of our Classical 4 concert had Alexander Korsantia playing Rachmaninov’s popular Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini. It was a highly charged, very touching and beautifully executed performance. We concluded the concert with Symphony #5 by Sibelius. This is the symphony with the musical depiction of high flying swans at the end. It was an effective ending to the show and created a nice arch with the opening “Eagle in the Skies”. Birds as symbols of freedom put into music.