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Bálint Karosi (Organ, Choral Conductor)

Born: 1979 - Budapest, Hungary

The Hungarian-born American-based organist, choral conductor and composer, Bálint Karosi, began playing piano and clarinet at age 6 and at 16 he began to study the pipe organ. In the 1990s, he studied at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music with Gábor Lehotka, where he obtained two Masters of Music in clarinet and organ performance. Subsequently, he was at the Conservatoire Superieure de Musique de Geneva with Lionel Rogg from 1999-2001, where he was awarded the ‘Prix de virtousité avec distinction’ in both organ and clarinet. He won second prize at the 2002 Prague Spring International Clarinet Competition, and subsequently performed as a soloist with the Essen Philharmonic Orchestra, the Prague Chamber Orchestra, the Liszt Academy Symphony Orchestra and played for the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande under Fabio Luisi, subbed for Boston Ballet, and played historic clarinet with Boston Baroque. Karosi holds an Artist Diploma, and a Master of Music in Historical Performance from the Oberlin Conservatory (where he studied with James David Christie). Currently he is pursuing a doctoral degree in composition at the Yale School of Music, where his composition teachers include David Lang, Aaron Jay Kernis, Christopher Theofanidis and Martin Bresnick.

Described as "ferociously talented" by WGBH Classical New England and praised as "a most impressive musical interpreter” by Christoph Wolff, Bálint Karosi continues his quest for new avenues of meaningful musical expression through his work in composition, interpretation and improvisation He has appeared as a soloist at venues such as the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, the Béla Bartók National concert Hall in Budapest, the Rudolforium in Prague, the Liszt Academy in Budapest, the Victoria Hall in Geneva and the Essen Philarmonic Hall. He has been featured at major music festivals including the 2013 Baldwin-Wallace College Bach Festival, the 2010 Bachfest Leipzig, the 2009 Boston Early Music Festival, the 2001 Magadino Organ Festival in Switzerland and he has performed in historic venues such as the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, the Marienkirche in Lübeck and the Dom in Freiberg, Germany.

As an organist Bálint Karosi captured media attention when he became the first American-based organist to win the 16th International Bach Competition in Leipzig, Germany in 2008. He also won first prize and audience prize at the Dublin International Organ Competition, the Miami International Competition, the Arthur Poister Organ Competition in Syracuse, and second prize at the American Guild of Organist’s National Young Artist Competition and the St. Maurice d’Agaune Competition in Switzerland. He was awarded the Junior Prima Prize for young artists of extraordinary achievement in his native Hungary and the Westfield Concert Scholar Award by the Westfield Center at Cornell University.

A respected teacher of keyboard improvisation, Bálint Karosi serves on the faculty at Boston University and UMass Boston, and is in demand as a private organ and improvisation instructor. In 2012 he won first prize at the University of Michigan Organ Improvisation Competition and was featured in an improvisation duel with renowned Dutch improviser Sietze deVries at the National Concert Hall in Budapest. He also won a prize at the Brno International Improvisation Competition and the Rochette prize at the Conservatoire de Genève.

Bálint Karosi’s embraces eclecticism in his own music drawing on French-impressionism, avant-garde, tonal and atonal elements, and minimalism. His commission for the National Concert Hall in Budapest, Consonances for Organ and Symphony Orchestra was performed by the Miskolc Symphony Orchestra in 2006, followed by a subsequent commission of his Orpheus’ Harp, a cantata based on a poem by Czeszław Miłosz. The former work has been aired on Pipedreams on Minnesota Public Radio and NPR. His compositions have been published by Wayne Leupold Editions and Concordia Publishing House. Karosi’s current projects include an organ symphony, a cantata, a piece for Pierrot ensemble, and a work for symphony orchestra.

An active conductor, Bálint Karosi has been invited as a guest conductor for the 2013-2014 season of Bach at the Sem in St. Louis, Missouri, and frequently conducts his own compositions. He conducted his Orpheus’ Harp at the National Concert Hall in 2010 and recently conducted the Yale New Music Ensemble and the Yale Baroque Ensemble in New Haven, Connecticut. Karosi is also a committed church musician who regularly leads performances of choral and instrumental works at the First Lutheran Church of Boston, where he has built and directed a thriving music program since 2007. He founded the yearly Bach Around the Clock (Boston Bach Birthday) festival in 2007 that draws thousands of people for a day-long series of concerts in partnership with WGBH Classical New England and other art organizations in Boston. He is presently Minister of Music and principal organist at First Lutheran in Boston.

Balint Karosi’s other interests include philosophy, Nonviolent Communication, theoretical physics, fishing and cooking.

More Photos

Source: Chamber Music Today Blog (June 13, 2009); Bálint Karosi Website (Spring 2013)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (May 2013)

Bálint Karosi: Short Biography | First Lutheran Church Choir, Boston | Recordings of Vocal Works

Links to other Sites

Balint-Karosi (Official Website)
Balint Karosi Channel on YouTube

Chamber Music Today (Blog)

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