RIYADH: Hungarian composer and pianist Gergely Boganyi has returned to Saudi Arabia, where he first drew inspiration to compose the 33-minute symphony for full orchestra dedicated to AlUla.

“You know, it’s easy to say you like a place, and there are many places in the world that I really like, but there is only one place that has inspired me, to write a symphonic poem for a full-sized orchestra and that was AlUla,” Boganyi said.

The musician and composer has dedicated his career to performing around the world and passing on his knowledge through mentorship.

Visiting Arab News headquarters in Riyadh, Boganyi spoke about his love for performing in the Kingdom, his creative songwriting process and his knowledge of the growing music industry in Saudi Arabia.

Hungarian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Balázs Selmeci with composer and pianist Gergely Boganyi at Arab News headquarters in Riyadh. (A photo of Lama Alhamawi)

Boganyi is also the inventor of the Boganyi piano, the style of which preserves the traditional structural integrity of the instrument but uses modern materials such as carbon fiber composite in the design.

Boganyi played his creation in the Kingdom during his first visit.

“It was absolutely amazing to come here with our new piano, to present the piano and to play the first concert in the history of Saudi Arabia in 2017, both in Riyadh and in Jeddah,” he said. he declares.

“I felt like I was part of history…and I tried to be humble and responsible enough to fulfill that mission.”

On his first day back in Riyadh, the maestro gave a concert at the German Embassy, ​​followed by a lecture and master class for pianists at the Saudi Music Commission.

“After the concert, I was listening to some of the Saudi students, which was an absolutely unique experience, a great action that I didn’t expect,” Boganyi said.

With the rapid expansion of the Kingdom’s cultural and artistic sector and the empowerment of young talent, there is so much potential to be discovered.

“Our culture and our life in the world is usually a little overcooked sometimes. Therefore, I see here a historical chance where music education has not been part of hundreds of years of education,” he added.

In mentoring the Saudi students, the composer saw an “honest” and straightforward methodology in their performances.

“Well, it was a fantastic experience to see the dedication and honest attitude of the Saudi students. I was very moved right away,” Boganyi said.

He pointed out that with such talents and such simplicity, there is an opportunity to develop something extraordinary in the Kingdom.

“I have already seen great developments since I last came here (in 2019). There is a historic chance to lead musical and educational life in a really powerful way at this time,” he said. -he declares.

Gergely Boganyi (photo by Saad Alenzi)

During his visit to the Kingdom in 2019, Boganyi himself composed a symphony inspired by the magnificent landscapes of AlUla.

“I visited AlUla, the historic site, the town and its surroundings, and was deeply moved by what I had seen,” he said.

Boganyi composed a symphony dedicated to the four elements of AlUla from which he drew inspiration – earth, flavors and smells, the night sky and the rising sun.

“Smells, not only of food and coffee which I really like, but also the smell of nature,” he said. “The night, which is silent in the desert, but there is always a mystical message in the silence because silence is not dead silence.”

Boganyi also shed some light on his creative process.

“Composition is the most complex inspiration, targeting the audience in the first place. So, for example, for the symphonic poem AlUla, I was trying to combine Western musical culture with Arabic musical flavor and present it in a musically understandable way,” he said.

The composer aimed to create a “romantic cinematic approach” to the symphony that developed a spiritual connection with each person.

“The essence of songwriting comes through a person’s soul, so I have to be very open-minded, but also the soul has to be open to the people who are going to listen to it,” he said. Explain.

The composer devoted three months, day and night, to the 33-minute symphony.

“I’m moved by the power of the stage, of the space and the sand and the dunes and the rock, and then the sun too, and when it comes up, it’s such a moving moment, and the fourth movement is like the victory of light over darkness,” he says

The composer told Arab News that he was born into a family of musicians, so he quickly learned the piano and other instruments.

“We’re four siblings, and we were all born under five, so we’re very close to each other, and we were all born into music, so I can’t even remember when I started playing the piano,” Boganyi said. declared.

“Right away going to the piano and it had such an appeal that I couldn’t resist, and then it was the most natural thing for me to become a musician,” he said.

On Tuesday evening, he concluded his visit with his second performance in Riyadh, featuring music from some of the greatest composers, such as Chopin and Liszt.

When asked if he would do any future visits or performances in the Kingdom, he replied, “As far as I’m concerned, I’m ready to come back next week.”