Acoustic in Not the Paleo Diet of Music / Az akusztikus zene nem Paleo Diéta

The title of this post is a sentence taken from my first TEDx talk. Last Saturday as the first speaker of the newly formed local TEDx VoyagerWay group I gave a talk with the title “LIVE, UNPLUGGED AND CLASSICAL”. A string quartet made of principal players of the Huntsville Symphony shared the stage with me. They played the Intermezzo movement from Mendelssohn’s 2nd string quartet. In may talk I advocated for LIVE performances (with lively demonstrations on the spot), for UNPLUGGED music (and the perfect music machines, classical instruments) and for CLASSICAL music. I am going to make the YouTube video available here as soon as possible. I believe I did make a point, and I also had lots of fun doing it despite the fact, that I have not done such a long scripted presentation in a long-long time.
The day before the talk I conducted the HSO in two Barber pieces and in the Organ Symphony by Camille Saint-Saëns. Nathan Laube played the organ solos beautifully, and he even added a solo organ number to the concert written by Vidor. The concert took place at First baptist Church, Huntsville,
where the orchestra has not played for a long time. The church is beautiful and it sounds really good, and our audience did not mind the free seating either.
Our 2nd Causal Classics was on April 2 at the Botanical Gardens,
where the audience got to sit IN the orchestra, next to our players. We have repeated this type of event for the third time, and it has been always a huge hit. Amy Schwartz-Moretti, former concertmaster of the Oregon Symphony joined us to lead the group, and also to beautifully perform the “hidden violin concerto” in the middle section of Haffner Serenade. Our next, and this season last Casual Classics is on Sunday. We will be performing at an old style American mercantile store called U.G. White downtown Huntsville.
We are teaming up with three authors from Alabama who will read their own texts and poems. Words by Jacqueline Trimble, Harry Moore and Jeanie Thompson will be matched with music by Still, Barber, Bernstein and Dvorak.

But before spoken words and music, the HSO is off to a n exciting adventure. We will be presenting the full movie score of E.T. —The Extra-Terrestrial by John Williams for which show the entire movie will be shown on a big screen hanging above the orchestra.
“E.T. phone home!”

A második és harmadik link a Huntsville Symphony hétvégi koncertjeit mutatja. Szombaton az “E.T. a földönkívüli” című ma már klasszikus mozit prezentáljuk élő zenével. Vasárnap harmadik, ebben a szezonban egyben utolsó “Casual Classics” előadásunkat játszuk, ahol három alabamai író-költő olvassa majd saját művét. Jacqueline Trimble, Harry Moore és Jeanie Thompson írásaihoz Still, Barber, Bernstein és Dvorák zenéjét társítottam. Az E.T. a Von Braun Center nagy koncerttermében, az “Alabama Storytellers” pedig egy régi, igazi amerikai vegyeskereskedésben lesz majd, Huntsville belvárosában.

Múlt hétvégén Nathan Laube orgona szólójával játszottuk Samuel Barber: II. Esszé zenekarra, és Toccata Festiva című darabjait, valamint Camille Saint-Saëns “orgona Szimfóniáját” a First Baptist Churchben. A tempolom gyönyörű orgonáján (a 60-as években épült) Nathan eljátszott egy Vidor szólódarabot is. a Huntsville Symphony nem játszott ebben a templomban hosszú évek óta, és most nagy örömmel, és a közönségtől csupa pozitív visszajelzést kapva játszhattunk a remek akusztikában.
Az alábbi linken megnézhető maga az épület.

A hónap a “Casual Classics” sorozat 2. koncertjével kezdődött. Amy Schwartz-Moretti, az Oregon Symphony volt koncertmestere (ma egyetemi professzor) vezette az együttest, és játszotta a szóló hegedűt Mozart Haffner szerenádjában. A Botanikus Kert főépületének egyik helyiségében:
A közönség a zenekari zenészek mellett, között foglalt helyet, majd két-három tételenként engedtem nekik, hogy másik helyre üljenek. Ilyen jellegű koncertet most csináltunk harmadjára, és mindig nagyon népszerű. Hol máshol tapasztalhatná meg egy zenehallgató, hogy milyen egy zenekari zenész bőrében lenni?

Posztom címét első TEDx előadásomból kölcsönöztem, melyet múlt héten tartottam, mint a helyi TEDx VoyagerWay csapat által felkért első előadó. A zenekar szólamvezetőiből alakult vonósnégyes segítségével demonstráltam az ÉLŐ, az AKUSZTIKUS és a KLASSZIKUS zene fontosságát, és próbáltam bizonyítani azt, hogy a technológia fejlődése nem teszi, nem teheti idejét múlttá az akusztikus hangszereken élőben előadott klasszikus zenét. Az előadás YouTube videóját amint lehet közzéteszem itt is.

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!

Healing with Bruckner and Conversations with Beethoven

Today at the Huntsville airport a young TSA agent, seeing my big musical scores, asked me about my profession. Upon finding out I was the conductor of the Friday Beethoven-Bruckner concert he said he was really sorry for missing the concert because he was so looking forward to it. I asked him why he did not come. “Because of what happened in Paris. I didn’t want to be in a public place with lots of people around.”, he said. Luckily most of HSO’s loyal audience was there to experience Kirill Gerstein’s amazing piano playing, and the true bonding of musicians and audience with the help of Bruckner’s powerful Symphony #4. Both the Bruckner and Bach’s Sinfonia in E-minor, the encore played by Kirill were dedicated to the dead and the wounded in the Paris attacks.
This afternoon Kirill Gerstein, three principal players of the HSO and myself (with my clarinet in hand) kicked off the Causal Classics series with a show called “Beethoven Conversations”. Kirill and I had a lively conversation about musicians’ every day challenge of interpretation and authenticity. We all got to listen to two Liszt Transcendent Etudes then, after a short demo of Mozart’s Quintet for Piano and Winds we performed Beethoven’s composition of the same title. Everybody who came to Roberts Hall at University of Alabama, Huntsville had a grand time, and I had fun playing some great chamber music as well. Once a great player like Kirill Gerstein comes to town we better take advantage of it and hear him play more than just, an otherwise glorious, piano concerto.
I am on my way to Budapest, Hungary to start rehearsals for the fully staged production of Verdi’s Don Carlo and also to perform new music with Ensemble UMZE at the Budapest Music Center.
Onward to make more beautiful and exciting music.

“ceux qui aiment. ceux qui aiment la vie. à la fin, c’est toujours eux qui gagnent.”
“Those who love. This who love life. In the end, they’re the ones who are rewarded.”
[Quote from a drawing of a Charlie Hebdo cartoonist after Friday’s Paris terror attacks.]

The Tenor Is Dead

Starting rehearsals tomorrow for the season opening production of the Erkel Theater. This theater -named after the famous and pretty much the only Hungarian romantic opera composer, Ferenc Erkel
– was built in the 1910s and just recently reopened after a quick refurbishing after being closed to the public for a couple of years. What is Erkel Theater? This venue was built to serve the “Volksoper” idea: opera and ballet for the masses for affordable prices. Although the idea of having this theater under separate management has come up multiple times in the past decades, since the 50s it has always been and now for sure remains under the management of the Hungarian State Opera. Just imagine City Opera under the management of the Metropolitan Opera with a different repertoire and cheap tickets. It is not such a far fetched idea any more now, is it?
The Tenor, a comic opera by Ernst von Dohnanyi
is the only musical theater piece I know to start with the death of the tenor. No, I mean it actually starts with the funeral of Tenor 1 of a barbershop quartet (or rather the German equivalent of this type of ensemble). The quartet now has only three singers and they are in trouble. They need to get ready for the annual singing contest. They are in dire need of a replacement singer and there is only one guy in town with a great tenor voice. He is called Schippel (funny names are all around in this opera) and he is the flutist of the local orchestra. The problem is, that Schippel is a poor fellow. He has no money, no manners. He is drinking a lot and has a potty mouth. This is of course totally fiction… Our actual singers all are well educated and well behaved. 🙂 In any case the initial conflict here is that the well off middle class members of the ensemble -just like the daughter and the wife of the bass singer- do not want to socialize with the flute player/tenor. He is wanted for his voice but is not welcome in their social circles. Since there is no opera without a love triangle soon another conflict arises. The Prince who has fallen off his horse nearby arrives to the house. He falls for Thekla, daughter of Mr. Hicketier (his name means “Hickupman”) and so does Schippel…, and so does Krey who sings Tenor 2 in the quartet. So this is actually a “ménage a quatre”. I think you get it now how much sitcom there is here.
I will post more about the story and the production.
Stay tuned!
Opening performance on September 14, 2014.

Just how much tenors are well and alive here is a snippet of information about my new composition, Georgia Bottoms, A Comic Opera of the Modern South. I managed to write not one, not two but three tenor roles.
Rev. Eugene Hendrix: Christopher Pfund
Dr. Ted Horn/ Officer Lester: Daniel Weeks
Sheriff Bill: Ron Roberts

Talking (again) about Georgia… Author of the book and fellow librettist
Mark Childress
and soprano extraordinaire Rebecca Nelsen
visited Huntsville, AL on August 9&10 and helped the Huntsville Symphony and myself to start the fundraising process. The events (two house parties) were a huge hit and a great start to secure funding for Georgia Bottoms, The Opera. There is now a button on the Huntsville Symphony website where you can directly contribute to help us with our goal. Mark Childress has set up a fun FaceBook page as well. If you LIKE the page you will get updated information about the production and more and more fun facts, videos and interesting details of the production as we approach the premiere.
There is no contribution too little and every LIKE counts! Join us and stay tuned! Keep the tenors alive!