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Plácido Domingo Supporting Hungarian Virtuosos

World famous tenor Plácido Domingo and Hungarian Minister of Human Capacities Miklós Kásler participated at a press conference marking the commitment to the continued discovery and nurturing of young classical musical talent, both inside and outside Hungary.

András Batta (left), Plácido Domingo and Mariann Peller. 

Domingo has been involved in mentoring several prodigies discovered by the Virtuosos (Virtuosok) TV talent program, and supported by its associated Young Virtuosos Foundation.

“Since the very first broadcast of the Virtuosos television show I have been impressed by the talents discovered in Hungary,” Domingo told the audience. “The format creates a new and contemporary platform to reach new audiences”.

The event, held at the Pesti Vigadó on May 24, was also attended by Mariann Peller, who founded the Virtuosos concept less than five years ago, and András Batta, who is the jury head of the TV program, and also President of the Young Virtuosos Foundation. He acted as host for the press conference, and admitted to “suffering from stage fever”.

Among the guests were the ambassadors of Span and Mexico, Japanese mezzo soprano, Seia Lee, world-renowned Italian flautist, Andrea Griminelli, Colombian conductor Juan Antonio Cuéllar and Hungarian concert pianist Gergely Bogányi, evidence of the further mentoring support for Hungarian young talent from around the world. The musical stars were due to meet the Virtuosos later that evening.

As a symbol of the collaboration between the Ministry of Human Capacities, Virtuosos and Domingo, 20-year-old Hungarian talent Benedek Devich was presented with a double bass paid for by the California registered Plácido and Marta Domingo Foundation. The instrument was made by Hungarian craftsman Barnabás Rácz. The organizers of the event declined to put a value on the gift when asked by the Budapest Business Journal.

Musical Entertainment  

“It is hard to explain in words this feeling, how happy I am, so I think I will play a little,” Devich told the audience before trying out the instrument. His was not the only musical interlude, however; 14-year-old Soma Balázs-Piri, a recent winner in his age category, also played a piece on the piano.

Batta explained that it was a case of third time lucky for Balázs-Piri, as he had not gone past the audition stage on two previous occasions. The fact that he had coped with those disappointments had impressed the jury as much as his technical expertise, the foundation president said, adding that it was a “such a mature curve of development”.

Commenting on the continued support for the TV program and its foundation, founder Peller said: “To have Maestro Domingo, Lang Lang and other established classical music artists support the talented young people we have discovered over the last few years is a dream come true […] not only for the talented youngsters but also for the Virtuosos organization.”

Minister of Human Capacities Kásler said he was “grateful to be here, grateful to the Maestro”. He added that it is not enough to discover talents.  

“They also need to be cared for, developed and helped and the Ministry of Human Capacities plays an important role in this. It is important for young people to be able to play in Hungary and to convey the values of Hungarian music abroad. Our goal is to support Virtuosos and make it not only a bigger movement inside the country but also a successful concept internationally.”

In the Spotlight

In a short question and answer session after the press conference, Domingo was asked how he dealt with the travel and pressures of being in the spotlight for more than 50 years.

“Being a musician is a privilege, because there are so many different jobs you could do, but you work at just one,” he said, speaking in English. “Of course, it is difficult to reach a certain place [level], but once you do, you can make people happy. […] In the moment they [the people] forget their daily problems, the problems of the world; they are with you. It is a privilege to be a musician and make people happy.”

He added: “The phenomenal miracle of music is the complicity you have with the composer, the instrumentalists, the conductor. To go from one place to another in the world is phenomenal for us, because we make people happy, and in making people happy, we are happier.”

He was also asked how well-known Hungarian music is, and to name his favorite Hungarian composer.

“Hungarian music is famous in all the world. I am really a romantic; I go for Liszt. Ferenc was extraordinary, with unbelievable melodies. It is music that reaches the heart. But Bartók was also amazing. Hungarian music is very famous all around the world, and you deserve it.”

In the audience was a Hungarian colleague Domingo said he has worked with for 30 years. “I sang Macbeth last night in Berlin and so my throat is a little sore today, as you can hear,” the master musician explained. “A little bit of wine will make it better. He  [pointing to colleague] introduced me to the best word in Hungarian: ‘Egészségedre!’” Domingo said to delighted applause.

Soma Balázs-Piri