SOLD OUT Dinner & Russian Music / Teltházas vacsora és orosz mesterek

Our second classical concert of the season here in Huntsville is coming up on Friday. Prokofiev: Symphony No.1 “Classical”, Shostakovich: Piano Concerto No.2 with the amazing Kathy Chi returning
and Tchaikovsky: Symphony No.5
Join us for this powerful program of Russian music at the Von Braun Center!

On Sunday as our first Casual Classics show of the season, at the beautiful Carriage House of the Huntsville Botanical Garden, we’ll be presenting our annual dinner concert. And we are officially SOLD OUT. Everyone who will be there will find out if Stravinsky’s Octet for Winds improves digestion, and if Mendelssohn’s Octet for Strings is sweet enough to make it to the Dessert Menu.

E hét pénteken a Huntsville Symphonyval, a Von Braun Center színpadán orosz mesterek műveit játsszuk. Zongora szólistánk, visszatérő vendégként, a fantasztikus Kathy Chi lesz Kanadából.
Nyitánynak Prokofjev Klassszikus Szimfóniája, a második félidőben pedig Csajkovszik Ötödikje hangzik majd fel.

Vasárnap az idei szezon első Casual Classics koncertjét tartjuk, amelyen a vacsora mellé felszolgált zenei menü Mendelssohn és Sztravinszkij egy-egy oktettje lesz, előbbi vonókra, utóbbi fúvóshangszerekre. Az évente egyszer megrendezésre kerülő koncert-vacsora rendkívül népszerű, és egy pár hete már minden jegy elkelt.

Jó étvágyat!

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
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
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.
In the meantime here is the review of my concert with the Omaha Symphony from last week for your reading pleasure.

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
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.

Remembrance Day Concert in Hamilton, ON

I am sure you have all heard about the tragic events that took place in Ottawa, the capital of Canada.
Tonight’s concert of the HPO is not just one of the many events observing Remembrance Day

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo’s unit, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders is from Hamilton and their musicians will be performing with us to remember their fallen brother.
We are remembering Nathan Cirillo and all the soldiers who have died in the line of duty in service of their country.
After a few busy days spent with rehearsals, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and I are ready to perform pieces by Elgar, Copland, Barber. Yegor Dyachkov from Montreal is joining us to perform Cello Concerto #1 by Shostakovich.
Let us all remember, and let us all heal with the help of music.

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
and the Columbus Symphony this weekend. CSO website calls this Masterworks program a “Concerto Festival”
and indeed three out of the four pieces are concertos (and very different ones)

Beethoven: Leonore Overture #3
Bach: Concerto for Piano and Strings in D major
Stravinsky: Concerto in Eb “Dumbarton Oaks”
Shostakovich: Piano Concerto #1

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.

Music in the Mountains Summer Fest 2013 Second Weekend

“Gregory’s Musical Bookclub” tomorrow at Nevada Theater with great writers, Molly Fisk and Louis B. Jones reading their prose and poems to live music by Gershwin, Carmichael, Leroy Anderson, Bernstein, Copland, John Williams
“One Vision, The Music of Queen” with MIM Festival Orchestra and Jeans ‘n Classics on Saturday
Shostakovich Symphony #9 & Beethoven Symphony #9 on Sunday afternoon
Check out this website for details and tickets

Opera-Symphony, Anti-Anti Opera and the missing link

Busy 6 weeks ahead in Budapest, Hungary. I am starting with the final classical subscription concert of the MR Symphony Orchestra (Hungarian Radio Symphony) at Palace of the Arts. The program includes two symphonies numbered 9, one by Shostakovich and one by Beethoven. Two very different “Number Nines” juxtaposed. Now that I am doing Beethoven’s Choral Symphony three times in three months (April: Huntsville, May: Budapest, June: Music in the Mountains, California) I rediscovered the operatic, theatrical side of the final movement of this titanic piece for myself. (BTW I always thought that the Funeral March of Eroica was “music for a play”, just like Egmont) The famous opening lines by the bass-baritone
“O Freunde, nicht diese Töne!”(“Oh friends, not these tones!”)
written in recitativo style set the tone for this very special Rescue Opera called “The Last Movement of Beethoven Nine”.

As part of a now decade old tradition the Palace of the Arts remembers the great composer Gyorgy Ligeti on (or around) his Birthday. He would be 90 years old this year. The time has come for Ligeti’s only opera, well his Anti-Anti-Opera as he called it to be performed as part of the Hommage To Ligeti series. I’ll be the conductor of the concert performance of the 1997 Salzburg Version of The Macabre at the helm of the Pannon Philharmonic in cooperation with
Neue Oper Wien
and Amadinda Percussion Group

Here is the summary of the story of this Anti-Anti-Opera
Link to the Palace of the Arts production

Now it seems that I could just move into the Palace of the Arts for the next couple of weeks. (BTW check out the architecture on their website. It is a gorgeous building.) After finishing the Ligeti project I dive into a “Real Opera” at last. As part of the internationally known Budapest Wagner Days I get to conduct Lohengrin semi-staged.
The great thing about being a conductor, or a musician in general is that you get to wear many hats. From Beethoven through Ligeti to Wagner: one feels like an actor playing different characters. You are only as good an actor as much you can be yourself in the role you are playing. Studying Lohengrin is giving me great pleasure. Just like I re-discovered the operatic nature of Beethoven 9 for myself I did just make a discovery about Wagner’s romantic “Knight on a Swan” tale. Learning this opera made me realize how organically Wagner’s artistry is rooted in German musical theater tradition. It might sound like a cliche or a no-brainer to many (or to all who knows even a little about W) but it is different knowing something from your studies and actually living it as a musician. NOW I see (and feel) that Lohengrin is the “Missing Link” (along with The Flying Dutchman and Tannhauser of course) or rather the straight path between Weber’s Freischutz and Tristan und Isolde.

Ligeti 90
Wagner 200
Vajda 39 and One Lucky Guy with great pieces to conduct between now and mid June.

The Shostakovich-Beethoven and the Ligeti performances will be streamed live by the Hungarian Public Radio at