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

Le Lanaudière. Portland Festival Symphony. Sziget: Island of Freedom.

On July 9, after about 8 years, I conducted the Lanaudière Festival Orchestra again. It was great to return to conduct these amazing musicians, to collaborate with Alain Lefèvre on the piano
http://wikipedia.org
and to enjoy the ambiance of the amphitheater in Joliette, Quebec. Our program was the opening performance of the Lanaudière Festival 2016, an exciting mix of pieces by Tchaikovsky and Respighi.
http://lanaudiere.org
The rehearsals were held downtown Montréal, which gave me a chance to enjoy the Montréal Jazz Festival programs every evening and also to revisit some of my favorite places in one of my favorite cities ever.

After enjoying a brief family vacation my summer season continues with free park concerts in Portland Oregon. Lajos Balogh and I share the concerts this year starting today at Cathedral Park. Tomorrow (Sunday) there will be an all brass program presented at Laurelhurst Park. More symphonic and string concerts to come next weekend and the weekend after. Check out this year’s programs!
http://portlandfestivalsymphony.org

Based on popular demand Armel Opera Festival is presenting a fun 2 hour program every day at the famous Sziget Festival again this year. Scenes from Mozart’s The Magic Flute (staging by Róbert Alföldi), contemporary music improvisation with audience participation, symphonic world music with Hungarian stars, and a live crash course in orchestra conducting will be on the menu. Come and join us in August!
http://szigetfestival.com

A Great List of Composers

Bartók, Eötvös, Halévy, Henze, Mahler, Offenbach, Saint-Säens, Schubert, Schumann, Verdi.

Schubert: Rosamunde Overture, Schumann: Cello Concerto and Mahler: Symphony #1 was the program of my concert with the Szeged Symphony on May 17. Miklós Perényi, one of the greatest cellists of the world played the solo part. The concert took place in the beautiful National Theater of Szeged. It was a great treat for me to conduct this program and a nice experience working with Szeged Symphony for the first time in a very long time.
Two days ago I participated in the press conference of the Armel Opera Festival 2016. Check out the website!
The upcoming program is very exciting.
http://armelfestival.org
I will be conducting Henze’s Elegy for Young Lovers with the Pannon Philharmonic and the young singers of the Academy of Music Budapest. I will also be doing a pre-rehearsal for Peter Eötvös’ newest opera called Senza sangue. This is the same work I will be conducting at the Hamburg State Opera this fall along with Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

Yesterday I attended the opening concert and ceremony of the Jewish Art Days, a new festival in Budapest Hungary. I am conducting an evening of opera music with Hungarian and Italian singers at the Italian Institute at the helm of the MAV Symphony Orchestra on Tuesday (May 31). On the program: music by Offenbach, Verdi, Saint-Säens and Halévy.
Check out the details here:
http://zsidomuveszetinapok.hu

I agreed to conduct the diploma concert of Bálint Kruppa. This amazingly talented young Hungarian is playing Bartók’s 2nd Violin Concerto with the Danubia Orchestra on June 7 at the Academy of Music.
http://zeneakademia.hu

Both the orchestra and Bálint will participate in the conducting masterclass organized by the Eötvös Music Foundation. The program is called Focus of Bartók, Kurtág, Lachenmann.
I will be teaching alongside with Peter Eötvös and Olivier Cuendet.
Read about the details here:
http://eotvosmusicfoundation.org

Many great composers and amazing pieces, lots of music, lots of work make me happy.

Just A Quick Note

I promise I will write more and in details later.
For now just the bare facts:

UMZF (New Hungarian Music Forum) composers’ competition, homage to Bela Bartok, final round for chamber ensemble compositions, October 6 at the Budapest Music Center with the Hungarian Radio Symphony, live radio broadcast
Marcell Dargay: Monumentum for The Eternal Immigrant
Mate Balogh: Melodiemusik
Alessio Elia: Disappearing Rainbows
Laszlo Sandor: Divertimento – Giuoco dei suoni
http://bmc.hu

UMZF (New Hungarian Music Forum) composers’ competition, homage to Bela Bartok, final round for orchestral compositions, October 7 at Palace of the Arts, Budapest (MUPA) with the Hungarian Radio Symphony, live radio broadcast
Andrej Slezak: inSpiral
Balazs Horvath: Werkmusik for Beatboxer and orchestra
Mate balogh: Quintet
Gyula Bankovi: Zoldfeny-udvaru ej (Greenlight-garden light)
http://mupa.hu

Two performances of the new version of “Spring Awakening”, a one act opera by Mate Bella at the Academy of Music, Budapest (October 9 & 11)
http://zeneakademia.hu

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! 🙂

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!

8+1+1/2 Operas

The next year (this time I mean 365 days and not “next season”) is about to bring 8+1+1/2 operas. Let’s start with the +1. After the successful recording session and Hungarian premiere performance of Peter Eotvos’
Paradise Reloaded (Lilith)
http://eotvospeter.com
the composer, myself and the amazing sound engineers of the Hungarian Radio have just concluded the final editing of the studio recording of this work. This hopefully means that a commercial recording of the work will be out soon, most likely with the BMC (Budapest Music Center) label. A professional TV recording of the live performance at the Palace of the Arts will also be aired on TV sometimes in 2014. I will keep you posted.
The “half opera” is in fact an adaptation of the newest music theater work by Peter Eotvos. The world premiere is just happening at the end of June in Frankfurt, Germany. The opera is called ‘The Golden Dragon’
http://eotvospeter.com/commissions
and it is based on a play by famous writer, playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig. I’ll be doing the English language adaptation of this work originally written in German. This involves adapting the text to the music (I’ll be working from the official English language translation + a raw translation of the libretto) and also doing some compositional work in case it is needed.

In the next two weeks I’ll be working with one of the professional orchestras of the city of Budapest called Concerto Budapest.
http://en.concertobudapest.hu
They reside at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music where we will be performing 5 chamber operas under the title “Operatic Sketches”. One of the works is entitled Roman Fever and was written by the head of the Composition Department, Gyula Fekete.
http://www.bmc.hu
The other four works are world premieres composed by students, sung by students of the Academy of Music. The stage director is my good friend (and writer of the libretto of my one act opera, Barbie Blue) Andras Almasi Toth.
More info here:
Operatic Sketches
http://zeneakademia.hu/en

In September 2014 I’ll be the conductor of the new fully staged production of ‘The Tenor’ by Ernest von Dohnanyi. This will be the first staging of this work since the 1930s and the season opening production of Erkel Theater. Another production I am doing at the Academy of Music is, guess what, yet another Eotvos opera. 🙂 A combined group of professional and student musicians and singers and myself are presenting ‘Lady Sarashina’
http://www.eotvospeter.com
as the closing performance of Cafe Budapest (Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival) in October, 2014. This will be the fifth Eotvos stage work I conduct.
In May 2015 I am conducting a shortened version of Ferrucio Busoni’s opera, Doctor Faust
http://en.wikipedia.org
as part of the “Faust Festival” at the Hungarian State Opera.

And finally “opera #8” and obviously the most exciting challenge for me in Season 14-15 is the World Premier of my own work
Georgia Bottoms, A Comic Opera of the Modern South
Naturally I will be posting a lot about this project. For now here is a link to the book ‘Georgia Bottoms’
Mark Childress
http://www.crazyinalabama.com

You may also look up and LIKE the page ‘Georgia Bottoms, A Comic Opera of the Modern South’ on FaceBook.

Dumb Art On Oaks

First of all, let me apologize for the title of this post.
1) The more I post the more I recognize the difficulty of finding a title that draws attention and will make people read my blog entry. The more I post the more I understand the pressure on online journalists and the direction online media is going. Do I like it? Not really, but I do understand the inevitability of things going the “tabloid way”. You really don’t want to end up like “white noise”.
2) I could not resist. 🙂
3) Please, do google ‘Dumb Art’ and look at the pictures. There are awesome, great pictures there. You are going to be surprised how many amazing works of great artists you will find this way, let alone all the really great street art.

OK, now that this is out of the way, I just have to say there is nothing ‘dumb art like’ about the program I am doing with pianist Lilya Zilberstein http://lilyazilberstein.webs.com/
and the Columbus Symphony this weekend. CSO website calls this Masterworks program a “Concerto Festival” http://columbussymphony.com/
and indeed three out of the four pieces are concertos (and very different ones)

Beethoven: Leonore Overture #3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonore_Overture_No._3
Bach: Concerto for Piano and Strings in D major
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpsichord_concertos_(J._S._Bach)
Stravinsky: Concerto in Eb “Dumbarton Oaks”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concerto_in_E-flat_%22Dumbarton_Oaks%22
Shostakovich: Piano Concerto #1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano_Concerto_No._1_(Shostakovich)

There are two other elements that make this program exciting for me.

1) “Time Travel”
OK, so you can say that every classical concert is like taking a trip back in time, and you’d be right about that. However having one of the most famous neo-classical pieces on the program (Stravinsky’s Dumbarton Oaks) is a true artistic time travel. This piece is like a 20th Century Brandenburg Concerto. Also I dare to say, that Shostakovich Piano Concerto #1 has many neo-classical moments in it as well. This makes the second half of the program a kind of ‘homage’ to the two composers in the first half. Then there is the fact, that we are playing a Harpsichord concerto with a modern piano as the solo instrument. J.S. Bach would have loved a Steinway if he could have possibly known one. I am afraid that the sound you’ll be hearing, as wonderful as it may be, is historically inappropriate. So there is another type of time travel for you, this time to an “alternate universe”. Bach’s music on the modern piano.
2) “The Trumpet Player’s Progress” (sorry, another Stravinsky reference)
In Beethoven’s Overture our principal trumpet player will leave the stage at a certain point then he’ll play two fanfares from back stage (he shall return to finish the first orchestral trumpet part). At the end of the concert the trumpet takes center stage as the secondary solo instrument of the Shostakovich Piano Concerto. Tom Battenberg, principal trumpet is doing an amazing job as he travels with ease between styles, genres and centuries.

Reloaded

I have had two extremely busy weeks. On Monday the wonderful cast of Viennese production of Paradise Reloaded (Lilith), the Hungarian Radio Symphony (MR Symphony) and myself have finished a week long recording session. Right after the session we started the orchestra-stage rehearsals (the dress rehearsal was tonight) for the opening night of the Mini Festival at the Palace of the Arts (MUPA) in Budapest. We are ready to rock the house tomorrow evening! We are expecting a sold out house. In the meantime (last SUnday) I did a concert with the New Hungarian Chamber Orchestra with the following program:
Grieg: Two Elegiac Melodies, Miklos Kocsar: Serenata per Archi (the composer himself was present, celebrating his 80th Birthday with us), Grieg: Aus Holbergs Zeit, Schoenberg: Verklarte Nacht
There were two days when I had a double service recording day with a three hour rehearsal for the other concert afterwards. I have done days like this before (mostly for Summer Festivals in many different roles) and I am happy that I can still do it.
As for tomorrw: the Hungarian Radio Orchestra sounds great, the singers are wonderful, the staging is exciting and we get to celebrat Peter Eotvos’ 70th Birthday with a great production.
I feel like I am “reloaded” and ready for a great year. 2014 is definitely up to a good start. I feel energized and enjoying every minute of every day spent with music.

Scarlatti and The Musical Robots

On Saturday, November 30 at 5PM local time I get to conduct a concert at the helm of the Budapest Strings
http://www.budapestivonosok.hu
at the Palace of The Arts in Budapest, Hungary. The concert includes two world premieres, one by the world famous composer, Peter Eotvos. It is a composition for French Horn and string orchestra, a very elegant and sensitive piece of music. It is an honor to be able to do the World Premiere of a new composition by Eotvos, who is turning 70 in January 2014 and whom I can call my teacher and mentor in both composition and conducting.
See the composer’s webpage about this new composition entitled Hommage a Domenico Scarlatti:
http://www.eotvospeter.com

More compositions by Eotvos will be included in my 13-14 season.
As part of the so called “Mini Festival” at the end of January in cooperation with Neue Oper Wien and Palace Of The Arts I get to conduct the Hungarian premiere and the studio recording of Eotvos’ latest opera: Paradise Reloaded (Lilith).
In February Huntsville Symphony is presenting an orchestral composition of his entitled “The Gliding of The Eagle in The Skies”, and also a very interesting action-piece called “Brass The Metal Space”.
Watch my blog posts about these performances in the next few months!

The other world premiere this Saturday is that of my “Gulliver Suite” for Tubular Bells and Strings, an 11 minute long composition based on “Gulliver in Faremido”, a piece of mine for narrator and 5 players. You can buy the commercial recording of the latter piece by going on iTunes or to this website:
http://www.bmcrecords.hu
The story behind the music is based on a Gulliver-sequel by 20th Century Hungarian author, Frigyes Karinthy. In this modern voyage Gulliver ends up on a planet where robot-like beings communicate by music instead of speech. More program notes and the story itself can be found on the Budapest Music Center link above. The movements of “Gulliver Suite” are: 1) Gulliver in Faremido 2) Robot Concert 3) Story Of The Two Headed Monster 4) Be That As It May

Since the performance is part of the “Master and Student” conversation-concert series Mr. Eotvos and I will be joined by musicologist Prof. Imre Foldes. I am hoping for an interesting and stimulating conversation about the new pieces and the two Baroque compositions by Georg Philipp Telemann.
http://en.wikipedia.org

I picked Telemann’s Gulliver Suite (originally for two solo violins, but we play it with 5+4 players in a stereo setting) and one of his Horn Concertos to compliment the modern music performed. This will be my first time to work with the great, young horn player, Szabolcs Zempleni.
http://www.zempleni.com