4000 Kids, 2200 Adults

Huntsville Symphony has just completed a very busy and extremely successful week with 6 concerts and 2 programs. We performed 4 Young People’s Concert and a Free Family Concert for about 4K children (most of the 4th Graders) and a few hundred adults. The latter one I like to call “Bring Your Grandma” concert, and indeed there were many families: grandkids, parents, grandparents alike. Mozart: Figaro Overture, Mendelssohn: Piano Concerto No.1, 1st Movement (played by the brilliant Sarah Han, the winner of the Guild’s Concerto Competition 2017) and James Stephenson’s genius “Compose Yourself” were on the program. Jim’s composition introduces the orchestra, its sections and its instruments to the audience in a set of variations. Before the Finale audience members get to pick and mix 3 different melodies, harmonies and rhythms to create their very own piece of music. I highly recommend “Compose Yourself” to any orchestra interested in a stylish, clever and fun piece of music that can do what Britten’s Young Persons’ Guide can and more! At the Free Family Show I also did a crash course in conducting for kids who were not shy coming on stage. They got to conduct the Mozart Overture with the Huntsville Symphony.
On Saturday evening the HSO had a sold out pops show comprised entirely of John Williams soundtracks. It was a demanding and highly satisfying concert for the orchestra and drew several standing ovations from the audience. Once (tops twice) a year I agree to play the clarinet in Huntsville to benefit the Symphony. I have performed quite a few great chamber music pieces in the past couple of seasons, and also the obligate clarinet solo in a Mozart aria when my Mom was here to sing an opera gala under my baton. This time I played the clarinet solo of Viktor’s Theme from the movie The Terminal. Viktor’s character —played by Tom Hanks in the movie— is especially close to me. We are talking about a man from an imaginary Eastern-European country who gets stuck in an airport terminal in the US and has to manage living there for a few weeks. Considering my crazy busy traveling schedule I do feel like I live in an airport sometimes.
More great music is on the way with the Huntsville Symphony in the next couple of weeks: Mendelssohn, Richard Strauss, Offenbach and Wagner.
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Banjo And Paradise

Happy New Year Everyone! I am looking forward to an extremely busy January. My year starts with a historical concert. The “Bela Fleck Banjo Concerto” show with the Huntsville Symphony marks the highest ever single ticket sales for a classical series concert in the history of the orchestra. We are 80 some tickets short of a sell out (we’ve got one more day to go) and we are expecting a great crowd for the Saturday morning open dress rehearsal. On the program (all kind of “folk music-inspired” pieces)
Zoltan Kodaly: Variations on a Hungarian Folk Song (“The Peacock”)
Aaron Copland: El Salon Mexico
Bela Fleck: The Impostor (Concerto for Banjo and Orchestra)

Go to Bela’s website to see and hear some of the concerto (recorded with the Nashville Symphony)

I am sure the audience is going to stick around for some more of Bela’s solo banjo playing at the end of the concert! Well, yes, and I am glad that the same audience is going to have the chance to listen to Kodaly and Copland.

Right after the concert I am leaving for Budapest, Hungary to dive into an exciting new opera-project. Peter Eotvos (I wrote about him and his 70th Birthday earlier) wrote an opera called Paradise Reloaded (Lilith) which was premiered in Vienna, Austria in October 2013. With the cooperation of MTVA (the mother company of the Hungarian Radio Symphony) and The Palace of The Arts (MUPA) in Budapest we are presenting the Hungarian premiere of the opera as part of the so called “Mini Festival” on January 23. Before the staged performance I get to be the conductor of the first ever studio recording of the opera (sung in German). The story is about Lilith, first wife of Adam (yes, an apocryphal story from biblical times) and the Journey of Adam, Eve with the help of Lucifer. More info here: