McGegan Named Principal Guest Conductor for Capella Savaria
Nic McGegan was recently given a lifetime appointment as Principal Guest Conductor for Capella Savaria, the Hungarian ensemble that performs on original instruments. He has collaborated and recorded with them since 1984.
McGegan was presented with a certificate which states: “Capella Savaria hereby awards a certificate to Mr. Nicholas McGegan on his 70th birthday and presents him with the title of Principal Guest Conductor in recognition of the prominent role he has played in the ensemble’s life over the past 35 years.”
“To say that I am totally delighted to have been offered this title doesn’t really begin to say how pleased, honoured and thrilled I am,” McGegan said.
He first started to work with Capella Savaria the same year he began with Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in California. It was 1984, one year before the big Handel/Bach Anniversary, and he had visited Hungary a couple of years before on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Haydn’s birthday when he played chamber music in the Esterházy Palace with the Gamerith Consort. It was there he also met the recording team from Hungaroton. The result: In 1984 they recorded Handel’s Atalanta, which was issued for the anniversary year.
“This was the beginning of a wonderful relationship between me, the orchestra and the recording company,” McGegan said.
In subsequent years, Nic and Capella produced many albums, including operas and oratorios by Handel, Telemann, Vivaldi, and Alessandro Scarlatti, just to name only the bigger projects. He recalls, “I worked with some terrific singers, such as Mária Zádori, one of the world’s finest baroque sopranos, and the late József Gregor, who was an astounding buffo bass who sang the title role in Telemann’s opera The Patience of Socrates, as well as countertenor Drew Minter and tenor Guy de Mey.”
All these were produced by András Székely, “who is like a musical father to me,” McGegan said.
With the collapse of eastern Europe in the early 1990s, it was no longer possible to record with Capella as it had been, and so it was more than a decade before he was able to return. By then, many members of the orchestra had left for the West or retired but a whole new group of wonderful musicians had taken their place. When Nic returned to work with Capella, they began by giving concerts in the Esterházy Palace during the annual Haydn Festival.
“Making music with Capella Savaria is a complete joy. They are totally dedicated, heart, and soul, to getting the very best results, no matter how long it takes, but at the same time it is all so much fun!” McGegan said.
During the past decade, with a new relationship with Hungaroton, Nic and Capella Savaria have been recording again. The repertoire has ventured into the classical and even Romantic eras, including symphonies and concertos by Haydn, Mozart, Kraus, Schubert, and Mendelssohn. In August 2019, Nic traveled to Hungary to record Mozart’s Haffner Serenade with Capella Savaria and violinist Zsolt Kalló, their Music Director and leader.
“Under the direction of Zsolt Kalló, they have achieved so much and I am truly proud to be associated with them once again,” McGegan said.