The Pannon Philharmonic Succeeded

Maestro Gilbert Varga signs contract as Chief Conductor of the Pécs ensemble and comes to Hungary.

Gilbert Varga is a Maestro of Hungarian descent whom the country’s orchestras have — until now — unsuccessfully attempted to call home on multiple occasions. Among others, the legendary conductor was the Music Director of Philharmonia Hungarica, a symphony made up of Hungarian musicians who emigrated in 1956. For the first time ever, the world-renowned director has accepted a position at the head of a local symphony, deeming the Pannon Philharmonic worthy after the orchestra’s several years of preparatory work. The invitation means sharing the responsibilities of Chief Conductor with Tibor Bogányi, making use of the opportunities that lie in their different aged but open artistic capabilities. Known for his integrity, the uncompromising Maestro’s engagement is a recognition of quality for the Pécs ensemble, and raises the bar to a new level for its artists, orchestra leadership and supporters alike.

The Pannon Philharmonic introduced Gilbert Varga in Pécs in the Kodály Centre’s concert auditorium on October 30, 2018, during an open Group meeting held to mark the beginning of a new era. For the first time ever, the ensemble held an all-encompassing Group meeting that was open to the press, further underlining the importance of the event that ushered in this new chapter.

The London-born Maestro Gilbert Varga, son of the legendary Hungarian violinist Tibor Varga who emigrated abroad, first began his career as a violinist but eventually found a worthier place at the conductor’s pulpit. He was previously the Chief Conductor of the Philharmonia Hungarica and the Basque Symphonic, and currently holds the role for the Taipei Symphonic. He held positions as the first resident guest conductor of the Malmö and Stuttgart Symphonic and directs the most exceptional ensembles from the United States to Taiwan as guest conductor. The position he undertakes with the Pannon Philharmonic is no novelty for the Maestro, given the many instances in his career when he worked in a pair with other Chief Conductors, including Cristian Mandeal and Mario Venzago. Established abroad, and as yet unknown here at home, the assimilation of this leadership practice will also be tied to the Pannon Philharmonic, which already boasts unique successes both professionally and with its audience.

“Together with Tibor Bogányi, we will be like a conductor with two faces. I have experience in similar paired leading conductor work, it has always been a positive experience for me and forward-thinking for the orchestra.” — said the conductor.

The Pannon Philharmonic’s Director Zsolt Horváth sees the aim of this new era as the lasting establishment of Hungary’s leading orchestras. Due to the group’s inner motivation and the artistic demands the orchestra, unique amongst local symphonic orchestras, has achieved a standard noted on both national and international stages. Established over 200 years ago, the orchestra’s unparalleled successes are founded on the Creative Group, whose quality and encompassed potential and artistic competence are prepared to realise the goals it shares with Gilbert Varga.

“Collaboration is a high level of education that is already manifested in the orchestra’s current processes. The Pannon Philharmonic must get the opportunities and occasions to evolve, and we are confident because we feel that we have done everything to provide them in the past 16 years.” — stated the director.

For the orchestra, it’s essential that the quality and professional respect with which the Pannon Philharmonic serves musical artistry and Hungarian culture be recognised in as many circles as possible. With the leadership of Gilbert Varga, the ensemble wishes to perform as an established national orchestra, a cultural ambassador in central-European and Visegrád countries guaranteeing the worthy representation of Hungarian musical artistry within the Carpathian Basin and surrounding countries.

The orchestra’s Chief Conductor, Tibor Bogányi, considers the upcoming collaborative work both a test of personality and a professional challenge. He sees the globally integrated practice as a cooperation that supports artistry, for which talent and an open attitude — fundamental qualities of his work as a conductor — are indispensable. His accomplishments in strengthening the professional position of the Pannon Philharmonic and ability to attract young talents from abroad to build on the strengths that the orchestra has absorbed from him, his musicality and his positivity over the past seven years, are all good indicators for success. Bogányi has undertaken a leadership position that supports creative expression, and he sees the older Maestro’s main role as prioritising the synthesis of professional tasks and broadening the young musicians’ professional horizons even further. Moreover, the pair’s distinctive musical interests will also enrich the orchestra’s repertoire.

“I’m happy, that we can be the first Hungarian example of two conductor’s leading the next three seasons of an orchestra. This practice is not unknown in Western symphonic culture, and Gilbert Varga’s contract with the PFZ marks a step forward on our path to internationalisation.” — lead conductor Tibor Bogányi summarised at the press event.

According to the president of the orchestra’s Creative Group Ágnes Morvay, since the Pannon Philharmonic’s 2003 renewal, Gilbert Varga is the fourth creative director of an ensemble that requires and produces consistent professional evolution. While he is contracted at the invitation of the director, it is at the initiative and with the entire support of the Group. For the almost 100 musicians in the Pannon Philharmonic, the goals and expected results collaboratively defined with Maestro Gilbert Varga will provide a new artistic perspective.

“We will be able to enjoy both the advantages of Gilbert Varga’s incredible experience, his clean and exceptionally precise field of sound and the uncompromising professional work that bears it, as well as Tibor’s passionate, suggestive personality and incredible talent, all at once.” — summarised the president of the Creative Group.

The Group itself, established in 1811 and renewed 16 years ago, is an outstanding product of the city of Pécs and Hungary, laying the groundwork for the Pannon Philharmonic’s professional development and popular success. Mayor Dr. Zsolt Páva sees the ensemble’s future rising standard, and its expanding impact and international public service responsibilities, in the achievement of a national cultural ambassador role.

“We are working together, in different ways, to continue a tradition that is more than 200 years old.” — with these words, the mayor confirmed the support of the city’s leadership.

Pécs is proud that in 2019, the Company’s musicians will be given a part of the salary compensation offered by the National Modern City program’s civic support fund, which will provide a budget to cover the Maestro’s honorarium. In light of all this, we can categorically state that Maestro Gilbert Varga takes a spot in a line of international conductors, further strengthening the city’s cultural rank both on the national and the international cultural scenes.




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