Let’s have good music in this New Year!

Katica Illényi has already been an outstanding member of the orchestra, when we first met and then she was the violinist of Budapest Klezmer Band. She is a great violinist, she sings beautifully, she dances amazingly, but if this is not enough, she is always looking for new challenges. She fascinates us with her step knowledge and she also plays on a musical instrument which does not need to be touched. And we have not mentioned her favorite genre, the jazz. We have talked with Katica Illényi about her season opening concert and of course about theremin.

How is your season opening concert going to be on 14th of January in Budapest Congress Center?
K. I.: I am going to perform with my friends at this concert. We can rarely meet and I really like and respect them. I had to invite them to the concert so that we can be together. The evening’s guest artists are: Micheller Myrtill, Hajnal Magyar, Péter Sárik, Árpád Pirovits and Csaba Illényi. We want to begin the New Year together with my friends with joyful music, let’s have good music in this New Year. I am very pleased that Micheller Myrtill has accepted my invitation, she is a very talented singer, who also inspired me a lot. Hajnal Magyar is also a unique singer and she is the leader of the Hungarian Hajnal Magyar Singing Studio. I have learnt a lot from her at her voice training lessons. Csaba Illényi is my brother, he plays on violin. I love to play music with him, he is also my recording sound engineer. I have learnt the step dance from Árpád Pirovits. Last but not least, I want to talk about Péter Sárik and his band. Péter is an outstanding jazz pianist, who made new arrangements for this evening and he has given a modern sound to these pieces. There are going to be light music and jazz, Hungarian and international songs, classical music in authentic form. My musician guests will perform separately and in duets as well and there will be other formations, vocal and orchestral accompaniment. At the end of the concert everybody will be on stage.

We talked a year and a half ago, then you were very excited about learning the theremin. How did you proceed with this special instrument?
K. I.: I have concerts with theremin for two years. My first theremin performance was after one and a half year practicing. The first challenge was to play the pieces as I wanted. Now my goal is to play on this musical instrument as I play on violin.

Why is it so hard to play on theremin?

K. I.: The theremin is a typical glissando instrument, it is difficult to find the sounds, because there is nothing to touch, I can only rely on my ears. I have recently played The Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Season. This was my biggest theremin challenge of my life.




Can we hear Vivaldi pieces on your theremin album? What did you choose for this album?
K. I.: I have made a Christmas album and I hope from my whole heart that my music friends will love it. There can be found fifteen pieces on this album, like Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, Lajos Bárdos Christmas Lullaby, Ave Maria, Bach Air, Vivaldi piece and many more beautiful festive songs. I am very pleased that it is going to be released in this year and my other album, my 2016 New Year’s concert with the Budapest Strings was recorded and it will soon appear on CDs and DVDs and the state channel M5 will present the Christmas concert film.

By the way, you have received an international award for the theremin version of the “Once Upon a Time in the West” world famous cover song. Why did you choose this song?
K. I.: I didn’t expect to get a recognition and of course I am really happy about it. “Once Upon a Time in the West” was the first song, which I played on theremin. I tried to imitate vocal sounds of this Morricone’ movie hit. This is why I like theremin so much.

This instrument puts the artists in front of challenges, so there it’s not a wonder that a community was founded and you are also a member of this community.
K. I.: This is a small world, there are three-four courses in a year, where we can meet. We love and respect each other and we learn a lot from each other. There are theremin social networks as well, so I can keep in touch not only with Europeans, but with American artist as well. It’s a very cohesive community, if someone asks a questions, the answer immediately comes. I know personally all the theremin artists. I’d like to teach, but I don’t have time. If someone asks anything, I happily explain it.

If I know well, you are soon travelling to Vietnam. How did you get the invitation?
K. I.: I am going to represent Hungary at he European Countries Music Festival in Vietnam and perform at the festival’s opening event. I will have two concerts with the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra, the conductor is going to be Tetsuji Honna, a Japanese artist, who is also known by the Hungarian audience, because he has also conducted in Hungary. They also wanted to see the theremin, so I will have a presentation for students in Hanoi Music Academy. The students can try to play this instrument.

You have received classical training, you have tried out so many genres and it is not a secret that you like to create new music and to improvise with your fellow artists. When is the next opportunity going to be?
K. I.: I seize every opportunity to improvise with my fellow artists. Now I am looking forward to work with Péter Sárik. We have been preparing for this cooperation for many years and I am really happy that finally this is going to be realized. We are going to improvise a lot in my New Year’s opening concert. Péter beautifully converts the classical pieces into a contemporary music, into jazz, old songs into a modern one. I cannot wait to play with them.

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