Hailed as a “young titan” by the Montreal Gazette after conducting the Montreal Symphony in Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle and Schoenberg’s Erwartung, Gregory Vajda has fast become one of the most sought-after conductors on the international scene. After completing his tenure as assistant conductor of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in 2005, Mr. Vajda took over as resident conductor of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra at the start of the 2005-06 season. Additionally, in 2009 he was appointed Artistic and Music Director of Music in the Mountains, CA - the only second conductor to hold that position in the festival’s 28-year history.
Vajda’s 2009/10 season begins with a stint at the Hungarian Radio, followed by his first return to the Hungarian State Opera since emigrating to the US. In his adopted country he leads subscription concerts with the Oregon Symphony, debuts with the Seattle, Grand Rapids and Memphis symphonies, and returns to the San Antonio Symphony and Symphony Silicon Valley.
Season 2008/09 marked Vajda’s introduction to the Salzburg Festival as assistant conductor to Peter Eötvös. He conducted the final performance of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle with the Vienna Philharmonic and Vienna State Opera Chorus, before returning to the Atlanta Opera to lead La Cenerentola. On the orchestra stage, he conducted the Toronto, Edmonton, San Antonio, and Silicon Valley symphonies. He also helped inaugurate the widely talked-about EMPAC at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY) with a performance of Grabstein für Stephan by György Kurtag.
During the 2007-08 season, Vajda returned to the Montreal Opera in performances of Un ballo in maschera and led two subscription concerts with the Oregon Symphony in addition to concerts with the Charlotte Symphony and Santa Rosa Symphony. Overseas, he conducted the Budapest Concert Orchestra in a program of American music. His summer engagements included returns to Chicago’s Grant Park Festival and the Round Top Festival in Texas, where he conducted his own orchestral work entitled Duevoe.
2006-07 brought him to the Charlotte Symphony, Honolulu Symphony and Atlanta Opera (Romeo et Juliette). In the summer of 2006, he conducted Les Violons du Roy, the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Mann Center and returned to the Round Top Festival in Texas, Milwaukee Symphony and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra at Lanaudière Festival.
While assistant conductor with the Milwaukee Symphony, Gregory Vajda led several regional tours and had opportunities to conduct the Canadian Brass, Maureen McGovern, the King Singers, as well as the Milwaukee Symphony in a yearly classical subscription series. In past seasons, Vajda appeared with St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra, the Calgary Philharmonic, the Winnipeg, Louisville and Omaha symphonies, the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa, Ensemble Intercontemporain, led the Klangforum Vienna in performances of Péter Eötvös’ As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams and Three Sisters (as part of the Wiener Festwochen), gave the premiere of his chamber opera The Giantbaby at the New Theatre in Budapest, and the premiere of Hungarian composer György Ránki’s opera King Pomade’s New Clothes at the Hungarian State Opera. He has also conducted at the festivals of Avignon and Strassbourg, at the Woodstock Mozart Festival and at the Mostly Mozart Festival in Lincoln Center.
In addition to conducting, Vajda is also a clarinetist and composer. Recently, he conducted his own composition for the silent film The Crowd at the Auditorium of the Louvre, with American pianist Jay Gottlieb. He has also recorded his piece Duevoe with the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. He was honored with the Zoltán Kodály State Scholarship for composers for the year 2000, and the Annie Fischer State Scholarship for music performers in the year 1999.
Born in Budapest the son of renowned soprano Veronika Kincses, Gregory Vajda studied composition at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music under Professor Ervin Lukács. He was also a conducting pupil of well-known composer and conductor, Péter Eötvös.