A world-renowned pair of guitar-playing identical twins have stepped in to save the day at a top music festival.
The celebrated Hungarian duo, Peter and Zoltán Katona, are swapping Carnegie Hall in New York to perform tonight (Thursday, September 29) at the North Wales International Music Festival.
They are replacing guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, from Montenegro, who has been taken ill, to take the stage at St Asaph Cathedral where the acoustics are said to be better than Sydney Opera House.
Artistic Director Ann Atkinson said: “We were naturally disappointed when it was confirmed this morning that Miloš was unable to come because of ill-health but we have been unbelievably lucky to secure the services of Peter and Zoltán Katona who are absolutely brilliant.
“The repertoire will be broadly similar to what Milos was intending and I am 100 per cent certain the audience are in for a massive treat.
“Peter and Zoltán have played to huge acclaim at some of the world’s great music venues like Carnegie Hall so we are thrilled they have been able to step into the breach at the last minute.
“It was certainly a stroke of luck that they are available so I’m guessing the stars are aligned in our favour. I really can’t wait to hear them play. I am also very grateful to our sponsors for tonight’s concert, Sanlam Wealth Planning, for their understanding.”
The acclaimed twins are as comfortable strumming Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which they will be playing tonight, as they are baroque music or a bit of Spanish flamenco.
“We play a lot of Spanish music because the guitar is a Spanish instrument, so we play a lot of Rodrigo, de Falla and Granados,” says Zoltán.
“But we also play a lot of baroque music, because baroque music sounds great on all kinds of instruments! We play arrangements of famous pop songs and some of our compositions as well.”
The Hungarian-born twins, who now live in Liverpool, will treat the audience to a varied programme that ranges from Bach to the Beatles.
The twins’ interest in music took root in their native Budapest, where they studied guitar from the age of 10, initially at Béla Bartók Conservatory of Music, and later in Frankfurt and the Royal Academy in London.
They have since notched up a number of prestigious prizes, but perhaps the most significant career breakthrough was being winners at the Young Concert Artists Trust competition in 1997.
“That was one of the reasons we stayed in the UK, because they started managing us for five years,” says Peter. “Then we won a similar competition in New York, so those two competitions were important in our careers.”
Another significant moment came in 2009 when they were selected as soloists for the Night of the Proms, which saw them playing in major arenas across Europe.
“That was an interesting thing to do because it opened our eyes to other kinds of music,” Peter says. His twin agrees: “That was a great opportunity for us because we could play for huge audiences — 10,000 people a night.”
“While we’re disappointed for Miloš, we are really looking forward to playing at the North Wales International Music Festival where the audiences are famed for their knowledge and appreciation of good music.”
According to Miloš, he was “truly devastated” he wasn’t able to perform at the festival.
He said: “I was hugely looking forward to my concert at the festival in what I understand is a stunning venue but I have been struck down by the most horrible stomach bug and am currently confined to my bedroom.
“There is simply no way I can travel anywhere. I know this will be disappointing to those of you who are fans and were coming to listen to me but I was delighted to hear that my good friends the Katona Twins are able to take over my concert tonight.
“They are a wonderful duo who I have known for some years now and even better is that they will be able to perform quite a bit of the repertoire I was planning to perform for you… and you will have two of them!!
“I would like to ask that you please support the Twins and the wonderful organisers of the Festival who have been so understanding and supportive of my situation and I can promise you that I will find another time to come and perform in St Asaph as soon as possible.”
Ian Martin from sponsor’s Sanlam said “It is a shame that Milos is unable to attend the North Wales International Music Festival tonight, however, we are delighted that the Katona Twins have been brought in as a last minute replacement. We’d like to thank the festival organisers for acting so quickly and efficiently to ensure the evening can go ahead as planned.”
Tomorrow (Friday, September 30) the festival looks forward to welcoming Ex Cathedra, a leading British choir and Early Music ensemble with a repertoire that reaches from the 12th to the 21st centuries, via almost all points in between. The programme is ‘Twilight Fantasies’: a thousand years of British music exploring the search for enlightenment.
The festival then comes to a climax on Saturday night (October 1) with a world premiere of a new symphony by royal composer Paul Mealor.
The concert, which is being held once again with the support of the Arts Council of Wales and Tŷ Cerdd, is being sponsored by the arts-loving care organisation Pendine Park along with local couple Aldie and Avril Robarts.
The symphony will be performed by NEW Sinfonia under the baton of conductor Robert Guy.
To find out more about the North Wales International Music Festival please visit www.nwimf.com or email email@example.com. Tickets are available from Theatr Clwyd on 01352 701521 or Cathedral Frames in St Asaph on 01745 582929.