This Saturday, the HPO welcomes its third Music Director Candidate Gregory Vajda for In Remembrance: Fanfare for the Common Man. Gregory is set to conduct the orchestra, Arygll Sutherland Highlanders and Royal Hamilton Light Infantry in a moving program that honours our community’s veterans, military and their families.

Portrait of Gregory Vajda by Gabor Bachman
Portrait of Gregory Vajda by Gabor Bachman

Born in Budapest and the son of renowned soprano Veronika Kincses, Gregory studied conducting at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music under Professor Ervin Lukács. He was also a conducting and composition student of well-known composer and conductor Péter Eötvös.

In addition to conducting, Gregory is also a gifted clarinetist and composer. He spent this summer finishing the final act of his opera Georgia Bottoms based on the book of the same name by Mark Childress. As music director of the Huntsville Symphony Orchestra in Alabama, Gregory is composing this piece in honour of their 60th anniversary in 2015. He notes that “this is really going to be a ‘home grown’ project'”.

Hailed as a “young titan” by the Montreal Gazette, Gregory has fast become one of the most sought-after conductors on the international scene. In 2012, he was appointed the sixth Music Director of the Huntsville Symphony and named Principal Conductor of the Hungarian Radio Symphony (MR Symphony). Gregory guest conducted with Phoenix Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley, Louisville Symphony, Calgary Philharmonic and Columbus Symphony.

In 2012-13, he was engaged by the Edmonton Symphony, Kalamazoo Symphony and Santa Barbara Symphony. In Hungary, he conducted the Pannon Philharmonic in a semi-staged version of Ligeti’s opera Le Grand Macabre and lead two performances of Lohengrin as part of the Budapest Wagner Days with the Hungarian National Opera Orchestra. In July, he concluded his artistic director and conductor position with Music in the Mountains, California – a position held since 2009.

You can catch Gregory this Friday, November 7 during HPO at the Library at 12:45 as he talks about his life, music from our Remembrance Day concert and the life of a conductor.

Check out Gregory in action as he conducts Sibelius, Mendelssohn and Brahms.