Toward The Sea Into the New Year

The season of the Huntsville Symphony is always busier between January and May than it is in the fall. The reason? College football. In the fall we are doing our classical concerts on Fridays so we do not have to compete with the games on Saturdays. Also it seems it takes a while for everybody (definitely our core audience) to settle into the usual rhythm after the summer months. After presenting a no-orchestra New Years Eve show with the amazing Bela and Abigail Fleck the Huntsville Symphony is back on the stage of the Von Braun Center and we sure have a lot of notes to play for the second half of the season. Between February 1-4 we are doing 4 Youth Concerts, a Free Family Concert and a Pops concert with all John Williams movie hits. We are presenting our ever popular “dinner-concert” Casual Classics on February 12, then another classical concert with the music of Wagner and Offenbach on February 18.

Yesterday, with a smaller than usual orchestra on stage, I conducted the HSO in a show called “Flute and Harp Impressions”. Principal flutist Evelyn Loehrlein and harpist Katherine Newman joined guest flutist Gergely Ittzes in a selection of pieces by Vivaldi, Debussy, Takemitsu and Respighi.
Gergely Ittzes has also performed two of his own solo flute compositions presenting unusual virtuosity on his instrument along with many special effects never heard before by our audience. Ittzes is capable of playing clear double stops (intervals) on the flute and special effects that sound like walking bass or an Indian, or Japanese traditional instrument. Our audience was very enthusiastic and thrilled about all the music that was presented. I believe we did justice to Vivaldi as well, since his music —due to the big size of our concert venue— has been definitely underrepresented in the classical series.
My favorite part of the concert was when Gergely Ittzes played Debussy’s famous solo flute composition, Syrinx then we went right into playing Takemitsu’s mesmerizing “Toward the Sea II” for alto flute, harp and strings. Great job HSO string section!
I admire Takemitsu for his beautiful sound colors and soothing rhythmical complexities (yes it does sound like a contradiction, but Takemitsu is just doing, in his own language, what Debussy has invented more than a 100ys ago now). I was very pleased with the audience’s positive response.
Our New Year has just started, and we are sailing on toward new adventures. Come and join us in 2017, too!

All About Horns

No, not about the fantasy-horror with Daniel Radcliffe in the main role. Huntsville Symphony’s 5th Classical concert this season was about different horns like the post horn, a tuba and French horns. Our soloist on Saturday, playing the Tuba Concerto by Williams was my good friend and amazing musician- Alan Baer, Principal Tuba, New York Philharmonic.
I conducted this beautiful piece a long time ago, but with a bass trombone soloist. In all honesty, the piece works much better with tuba. I am surprised that it is not on the repertoire of all the orchestras around the world. I guess it takes some courage to invite a tuba player as a soloist instead of a violinist or a piano player :). The audience loved the piece and rewarded the performance with a long standing ovation.

The second half of the concert started with one of my all time favorite compositions, the Sextet from the opera ‘Capriccio’ by Richard Strauss (I rearranged it for a small string orchestra) and ended with Till Eulenspiegel’s Marry Pranks. HSO rocked the piece!

In the first half, as an homage to Richard Strauss’s admiration for Mozart’s music we performed the Posthorn Serenade. I had the flutes, oboes and bassoons seated in the front of the orchestra. This emphasized the fact, that the two middle movements of the Serenade are really a hidden Sinfonia Concertante for woodwind instruments.
Chris Coletti
played the famous Post horn solo beautifully. Other than the famous 2nd Trio of the 2nd Menuet with the post horn in it, the trumpet section played on natural trumpets for the entire piece.

One more casual classic about The Science of Music and a classical concert with Liszt, Bartok and Brahms on the program are in store for this season with the HSO. Visit our website for details!

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
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 ☺)

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
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:

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:
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.

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.