Jay Ponteri, English faculty, will be a guest author on Sugar Radio, hosted by Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond on February 14, 2016.
Excerpt from the article by James McQuillen in The Oregonian, June 07, 2012.
In 1974, 16 young string players gathered in Lake Oswego under the baton of Hungarian émigré and Oregon Symphony violinist Lajos Balogh to plant the seeds of the Metropolitan Youth Symphony. Thirty-eight years later, after 13 ensembles involving more than 400 players, the organization marks a milestone this weekend at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall as Balogh conducts his last youth symphony concert.
When Balogh volunteered to form the ensemble, he was teaching at Marylhurst College and serving as the principal second violinist of the Oregon Symphony, a post he held for 27 years. He had arrived in Portland six years earlier from then-West Germany, following other family members who left Hungary after the 1956 revolt. He came with credentials, including studies at the Liszt Academy in Budapest, and with a commitment to music education that has been a hallmark of his work in Portland.
"It was always my thought," Balogh said, still with a heavy Hungarian accent, "that if there was a need, someone needed to fill it."
So he began the Metropolitan Youth Symphony as a volunteer, with the idea of leading a small, family-oriented ensemble. He was encouraged to move rehearsals to Tigard by the promise of more participants there, and when students started showing up from Portland, he moved first to Portland State University and then to whatever available venues would fit the growing organization's needs.
Balogh said he didn't worry that the Metropolitan Youth Symphony's growth might be limited by the older, bigger Portland Youth Philharmonic, established in 1924.
"PYP is a great organization," he said. "But there is still a need for opportunities -- for example, for players who can't make the commitment to their rigorous rehearsal schedule."
Balogh has continued to provide those opportunities, including more than 50 concerts at the Schnitzer and tours to Europe, Japan and China.
Mr. Balogh was also featured in Oregon Music News. Read his interview.