gregory vajda tackles 10 questions

[vajda = “voy-da.”]  maestro gregory vajda will not only be conducting our beloved band this weekend, he’ll be conducting our beloved band this weekend with one of his very own musical compositions on the program.  how kickass is that?!  the beaver dug a little bit deeper…

what does it mean to be the oregon symphony’s resident conductor?

According to my job description I am helping the Music Director in maintaining and developing the quality of the orchestra.  In addition to conducting my own concerts, I attend rehearsals to help with the balance and other things as needed.  I am also the first “on call” in case Carlos Kalmar or a guest is unable to conduct a scheduled rehearsal or concert.  I am responsible for the education programming and activities related to our youth and kids concerts.  I take part in fundraising activities as well.  In short: I am a member of the OSO family and I am trying to help with everything I can to make this great organization thrive.

you’ll be conducting one of your own compositions this sunday and monday.  how would you describe duevoe to someone who doesn’t listen to much classical music?

After the recording of the first version came out a critic called the piece “Hungarian Blues.”  I find this a great description.  Duevoe (this Gypsy word imitates the sound of the double bass) has the nostalgia and “the blue” of Hungarian-Gypsy instrumental music as played in certain parts of Transylvania. I tried to capture the energy and the groove of this particular kind of folk music by using the sound of the traditional Western symphony orchestra.

really, really looking forward to hearing it!  hey, i just discovered that your mother is a famous soprano – have you worked together professionally, or would you like to?

Yes we have.  Just last summer at my festival, Music in the Mountains in California, we did Mahler’s Symphony #4 and a Mozart Concert Aria together.

mahler 4?!  oh wow, that’s awesome.  if you could invite 3 composers to dinner, who would you choose and where would you go?

This question is not fair.  There are so many great composers and perhaps even more great restaurants in Portland.  Just kidding.  Let me pick three very different composers and take them to three different places.

I would take Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to the Bagdad Theater and Pub.  He would love the beer and the vibe and would appreciate being introduced to this great invention called “movies.”

I hope that Bela Bartok would accept my invitation to Metrovino for some fine dining and wine.  I have so many questions to ask him over a glass of Oregon Pinot Noir.

Miles Davis and I would go to Jimmy Mak’s.  I am sure he’d play something for me after eating and drinking.

maestro, hats off to you – i don’t think anybody else is going to give a better answer to that question.  i’ll be thinking about mozart in the bagdad lobby all day now.  um, let’s see… how do you find time to play the clarinet?

I don’t.  But when I have to practice I usually do it in my dressing room after a morning OSO rehearsal.

if I could buy you a drink, what would you order?

Who said you couldn’t?  Wine at Vino Paradiso, cocktails at Tear Drop, Belgian beer at North 45.

dear god, can we start at stumptown for a macchiato?  wait, that’s not one of my official questions.  what are the joys and challenges of being a guest conductor all over the planet? 

The biggest challenge is that you always have to start it from scratch even when it is not your first time somewhere.  The greatest joy kind of comes from the same thing.  Working with different orchestras and opera companies really keeps it fresh for me as a conductor.

the beaver’s in budapest for 48 hours: what should it do?

Day 1: Morning bath at a traditional bathhouse, breakfast at the famous Gerbaud, walk at the Buda Palace, check out an exhibit at the Muksarnok (museum of contemporary visual arts), catch a concert at the Palace of the Arts.  Day 2: Walk along the Danube, eat lunch at Cafe Kor, after seeing something at the Budapest Opera visit one of the many “cult pubs” in the city of Pest.  Then come back again for another 48 hours!

you had me at bathhouse!  what non-classical music do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of jazz.  Tom Waits when I am in the mood.

i know what you mean – tom waits during northwest winters could be a toxic mix.  last but not least, what sets the oregon symphony apart from other orchestras?

The Oregon Symphony is probably the most friendly group of musicians ever.  And you can hear that in their playing, too.

maestro gregory, you’re 10 for 10 – thanks for all the amazing responses!  wow.

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2 Responses to “gregory vajda tackles 10 questions”


  1. 1 Arthur Bispo February 17, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Rats, I’ve been calling him VAJ-duh the whole time — haha.

    With “the most friendly group of musicians ever” (which should be ‘friendliest’ by the way), does he mean they’ve been that way since the beginning of time, or just compared to how they’ve been in the past?…

  2. 2 Nancy Ives February 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    Wow, that really was a great answer to the composer/dinner question!


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