Ez történt

Bringing serious music to youngsters

2001. 11. 29.

The National Philharmonic Orchestra has begun a series of young people's concerts, under the direction of Zsolt Hamar, which attempt to address the youngest age group in unusual locations, environments and interesting repertoire. Besides his work at the National Philharmonic, since last year Zsolt Hamar has been the music director of the Pécs Symphony Orchestra: He also works regularly at the Opera House and abroad.

“The commencement of the young people's concert series fits in well with the progressive repertoire policy, announced by Music Director Zoltán Kocsis,” says Zsolt Hamar. “A fair few works will be played in the orchestra's concerts which have rarely, if ever, been performed in Hungary, and Twentieth Century music assumes an important role. We have the “Music of Wonders, the Wonders of Music” series, aimed at six to ten year olds, “Musical Excursions”, addressing twelve to eighteen year olds, and also “comMusication”, which is directed principally at university and college students. The aim of all three is to make the first step towards age groups which have not necessarily already rejected classical music. As worst, they don't know it, because it does not reach them in another form. We would like to create an atmosphere at the concerts that is acceptable and friendly for young people, and this is helped by invited hosts, Erzsébet Kútvölgyi, Péter Geszti and András Réz.”
 The “Wonders of Music” series for the youngest includes a representative sixty minutes from Purcell's Fairy Queen, Mozart's Magic Flute and Haydn's The Seasons. These concerts are at the Palace of Wonder's Exploratory in Budapest. Musical Excursions will be staged at the National Gallery, the Thália Theatre and the MTA Ceremonial Hall,  where works by Ferenc Erkel, Monteverdi, Stravinsky, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven will be heard. Perhaps the boldest undertaking is the series 'comMusication” for university students: three concerts will be staged in the aula of the Economic's University. “We have assembled programs from exclusively Twentieth Century music, titled using terms that can be understood in the world of business, such as “lack” “plenty” and “success.” In this series' first concert, on Friday November 30th, those attending will hear Charles Ives' “The Unanswered Question”, John Cage's 4' 33″, and Igor Stravinsky's A Soldier's Tale.
As for his work with the National Philharmonic, Zsolt Hamar explained that every season, he conducts a pre-determined number of concerts, is responsible for the youth concerts and – to use sports terminology – is a “trainer”, taking solo or orchestral rehearsals. “I have worked for four years with Zoltán Kocsis” he says “and a healthy, well proportioned division of labour has evolved between us. I learn an immense amount from Kocsis, we listen to each other's rehearsals, sometimes we argue but we have the same goal.” Besides the National Philharmonic, Zsolt Hamar has been the music director of the Pécs Symphony Orchestra since last year. Although last summer it became unclear whether he would extend his contract, finally he elected to undertake another year. “I set to work in Pécs with many serious plans and ambitions,” he relates, “I wanted to create an orchestra in Pécs which could produce quality, which could compete in all areas with the finest in Europe, and be invited to the most important festivals. This plan has proven to be something of a utopian dream, and although the last year has produced results, it became obvious that with the existing structure, not much more can be achieved. I am currently in mid-discussion with the city leadership, on whose table I have placed a detailed concept concerning structural transformation. The essence is to create, through reinvestment and regrouping of labour, a quality theatre orchestra that can play operettas and musicals, and a high quality symphony orchestra, which besides concerts, could participate in opera performances, realising a true stagione system. I would like these changes to take place sooner or later, so I could continue my work in Pécs where I rely as a partner on the students of Pécs University, who are developing with remarkable speed.”
Besides his work in Budapest and Pécs, Zsolt Hamar regularly conducts at the Hungarian State Opera (this year, he has conducted nearly twenty times: Tosca, Marriage of Figaro and Don Carlos.) He has been invited to work abroad regularly, because in recent years, he has won top-ranking conducting competitions in not just Hungary, but Portugal and Italy. He is a regular visitor to Scandinavia (he is currently getting ready for a trip to Sweden), and has just returned from Sardinia, where he conducted an Mendelssohn evening, where the soloist was the internationally renowned violinist Salvatore Accardo.
The Japan Philharmonic Orchestra also invited him for a Far Eastern tour, and in early 2003, will spend two months in the USA, with the National Philharmonic Orchestra.

Attila Retkes
(Magyar Hírlap, November 29th 2001.)