Opening Concert of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra

Margaret Island Theater
Jun 04 2024. 8:00 PM

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Opening Concert of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra

Classical concert

Special guest János Balázs - piano

Conductor: Gergely Madaras

4 June 2024 at 8 p.m. (rain day 5 June)

Margaret Island Open-Air Stage

The Margaret Island Theater celebrates the day of the National Unity with a large-scale event every year.
János Balázs, Kossuth Prize-winning and Ferenc Liszt Prize-winning pianist who is winner of the Music International Grand Prix New York and audience favorite will join the National Philharmonic Orchestra in summer 2024.

In addition to popular works such as Hungarian Fantasy by Liszt, Beethoven's 5th Symphony the program also contains some surprises and rarities such as the Dances from Gemer by the Slovak composer Alexander Moyzes, which have not been heard before in our country.
From the 1st of July 2024 Hungary will assume the presidency of the Council of the EU, and before that we pay tribute by selecting the pieces of the festive program from the works of the composers of the countries participating in the cooperation of the Visegrad Four (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia). As a symbol of unity, an excerpt from Beethoven's 9th symphony entitled Ode to Joy, which is the official anthem of the European Union, will be played.
“If you have heard János Balázs perform, you must have experienced a compelling and completely unique concert.”

Music critiques highlight the delicacy and diverse colors of his piano playing, his unlimited dynamic scale and his fascinating virtuosity. Attending János Balázs’ concerts is a genuine time travel, as he evokes with full force the intimate ambience of the composers and pianists of the so-called 19th century golden age, like Franz Liszt or Frédéric Chopin.

I. part
- Bedřich Smetana: Overture from "The Bartered Bride"
- Frédéric Chopin: Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante
- Alexander Moyzes: Dances from Gemer
- Ferenc Liszt: Hungarian Fantazy

II. part
- Ludwig van Beethoven: Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67 (Fate Symphony)
Encore: European Anthem

The Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra, one of the country’s leading symphonic orchestras, celebrated its centenary in the spring of 2023.

Following the eras marked by the leadership of János Ferencsik and Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi, a new chapter in the history of the orchestra began in 1997, when Zoltán Kocsis was named chief music director. Over the course of the next two decades, the orchestra performed not only the classics, but also important works previously missing from the repertoire and, with the versatility worthy of a renewed national symphonic ensemble, introducing its audience to the Hungarian music of the recent past and today. During the period after Kocsis’s death, from March 2017 to August 2020, the post of music director was held by the Liszt Award-winning Zsolt Hamar, who had contributed to the orchestra for many years as first permanent conductor while also pursuing a serious international career.

Since the fall of 2022 and the start of the ensemble’s jubilee season, the musicians have been guided by their new General Music Director, György Vashegyi.

Vashegyi has taught at the Liszt Academy since 1992, currently serving as an associate professor and director of the Early Music Departmental Group founded under his leadership in 2010. In recognition of his work, he received the Liszt Award in 2008 and the Knight’s Cross of the Hungarian Order of Merit, Civil Division in 2015. In 2021, the French state awarded him the honorary title of Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

Over the past decades, the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra has given nearly 330 foreign concerts while touring in some 40 countries. During Kocsis’s tenure, they performed at such renowned venues and festivals as New York’s Avery Fisher Hall, Tokyo’s Suntory Hall, Birmingham’s Symphony Hall, the Megaron in Athens, Bucharest’s Enescu Festival, the Colmar and Canary Islands festivals and Bogotá’s Beethoven Festival; In 2011, on the occasion of the Liszt bicentenary year, they played at the Bozar Centre in Brussels and at the Vatican, at a concert held in honor of Pope Benedict XVI. The ensemble pays regular visits to France, Japan, Germany, Romania, Spain, Slovakia and Slovenia, among other countries. In recent years, they have performed in Bogotá, Istanbul, South Korea, China and Switzerland.

In January 2023, they toured in Japan again under the leadership of Ken-Ichiro Kobayashi.

Music Director

Gergely Madaras is Music Director of the Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège since 2019. Together, they have performed across Belgium and toured to Europe and South America, having been regularily featured on Mezzo and and have been building an extensive discography ranging from César Franck through Liszt and Dohnányi for Alpha, BIS and Palazzetto Bru Zane labels. Gergely was previously Music Director of the Orchestre Dijon Bourgogne and Chief Conductor of the Savaria Symphony Orchestra.

As a guest conductor, Gergely’s recent highlights include engagements with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Philharmonia, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Bamberger Symphoniker, BBC Symphony and Philharmonic, Oslo Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo, Hallé, Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI, Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and Il Pomo d’Oro and Joyce DiDonato at the Concertgebouw, as part of their ‘EDEN’ tour.

The 2023-24 season sees Gergely return to the London Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Musikkollegium Winterthur, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Hungarian State Opera and Borusan Istanbul Philharmonic Orchestra. He makes debuts with the WDR Symphonieorchester, NHK Symphony Orchestra, Turku Philharmonic and Sao Paulo State Symphony. Future plans include appearances with the Oslo Philharmonic, Gürzenich Orchestra Köln and the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra.

Gergely was the inaugural Sir Charles Mackerras Fellow at the English National Opera, which culminated in his operatic debut at the London Coliseum with a new production of Die Zauberflöte with stage director Simon McBurney. Since then, he has conducted critically acclaimed productions at the Dutch National Opera, Grand Théâtre de Genève and the Hungarian State Opera. Last season, he made his debut at La Monnaie, conducting Shostakovich’s The Nose.

Whilst grounded in the core classical and romantic repertoire, Gergely maintains a close relationship with new music. He has collaborated with composers George Benjamin, Péter Eötvös, György Kurtág, Tristan Murail, Luca Francesconi, Philippe Boesmans and Pierre Boulez, for whom he served as assistant conductor at the Lucerne Festival Academy between 2011-2013.

Gergely has appeared as a regular guest at the Lucerne, Gstaad, Milano Musica, Bucharest Enescu, Festival d’Automne à Paris, Murten Classics, inClassica Dubai, Septembre Musical Montreux, MiTo Settembre Musica, Budapest Spring and the Tokyo Stradivarius music festivals and made highly praised recordings with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

Born in Budapest in 1984, Gergely first began studying folk music with the last generation of authentic Hungarian gipsy and peasant musicians at the age of five. He went on to study classical flute, violin and composition, graduating from the flute faculty of the Liszt Academy in Budapest, as well as the conducting faculty of the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, where he studied with Mark Stringer.

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