Arany JánosI was born in Budapest on 28 March 1955. The pursuit of music has become second nature to me at home. My father – Sándor ARANY – worked as an amateur choir director, and I sang in the church choir along with the rest of the family every week since my early childhood. I attended an elementary school with specialisation in music and had mandatory instrumental and choral lessons.
We decided I better attend a traditional high school, but I was always thinking of pursuing music as a profession and after a year spent at the high school in Budapest, I transferred to the high school of the Reformed College of Debrecen. There I could sing under the leadership of conductor Sándor Berkesi. I got into the high school’s renowned mixed choir, the “Kollégiumi Kántus”, I was learning to become a cantor, learned to play the organ, to conduct and I was involved in the music study group’s work as well. Members of the Reformed College of Debrecen placed second at the Bartók Music Competition in 1971 and won first place at the Kodály Music Competition in 1973. Some members of the team took part in the individual competition in 1973, where I managed to take first place as well. It was a decisive year to me leading to my commitment to the professions of conductor and music educator and to Kodály’s work: with the choir, we learned a number of large-scale choral works. After graduation in 1973, I passed the entrance examination at the Franz Liszt Music Academy (Academy of Music) for the High School Music Teacher and Conductor program.
I was taught by Péter Erdei, György Kroó, András Pernye, Imre Földes and Elizabeth Szőnyi. In the meantime, I got into the college choir and the Young Friends Central Chamber Choir, directed by Gábor Ugrin. I collected my first conductor experiences with the choir of Zalka Máté Military Technical College, and every summer at the Tahi Reformed Church Music Week. I was in third year when Gábor Ugrin offered me to continue his work: as a conductor and music teacher at Veres Pálné Grammar School in Budapest. I accepted this offer, and taught there part time from 1977 until 1979, and then as a tenured teacher for over ten years.
This period was a very gratifying experience with many small and large professional successes: the two school choirs were performing well at certification concerts, national student festivals, radio recordings, and concerts. We went on trips abroad several times: twice to Finland and Denmark, once to Belgium and four times to the former West Germany. We attended the “Singing Youth” meetings for ten years, earned “gold” certification each time and were awarded “Choir of the Year” title five times. The Ministry of Culture recognized my work with the “Honourable Mention” in 1985.
I led a couple of groups as a Conductor: the male choir of Zalka Máté Military Technical College, the prestigious “Voice of steel” male choir of Ganz-Mávag, and “Libertas” church chamber choir. At the end of my studies at the Music Academy, I became head of the “Kodály” Student Scientific Circle, and became member of the Hungarian Kodály Society. In the summer of 1981, I was invited to Japan as a guest speaker at the Fifth International Kodály Symposium held in Sapporo. This invitation was followed by others in the summer of 1982, 1983 and 1987 each time for a month, and after a long break in the summer of 1998, 1999 and in the spring of 2000, I spent two weeks in Japan again as a guest lecturer at courses for music teachers.
After twelve years of teaching, in August 1989, I left the Veres Pálné Grammar School and became Deputy Director as a music history teacher and as a conductor at Zoltán Kodály Hungarian Choir School. This only lasted a year. In September 1990, I started working in my field at Baár-Madas Reformed High School, and we achieved great results also with their school choir.
In the 1993-94 school year, I started to teach at Széchenyi István High School in Sopron. In addition to teaching, I founded a choir at the school. In the next two school years, we won the “gold” certification, and in 1995 we were awarded also the “Choir of the Year” title. In addition to school work, I was working in two ensembles in Sopron: in “Fidelissima” mixed choir which was founded in 1994 and in the Choir of the Reformed Church. In 2001, I founded a new mixed choir in Budapest, the Choir Psalterium Hungaricum consisting mainly of former students of Baar-Madas High School. After the successful debut, they sang several times in Budapest at Reformed churches and at the Academy of Music. In the summer of 2004, we entered the competition III. World Choir Games, where we succeeded in both categories – “mixed chamber choirs” and “Musica Sacra” – and earned the gold medal.
I did not wish to renew my mandate as the director at Baár-Madas High School for the third time, so in 2005, I joined a new institution: I became assistant professor of music history, music literature and taught choral conducting at the College of Nyíregyháza Faculty of Arts, Department of Music. Since September 2010, I have been teaching music history at University of Debrecen Faculty of Music.
In addition to the engagements listed above, I participate in some social organizations. I was elected into the presidency of the Association of Hungarian Choirs and Orchestras in 1991, since 1995 I have been Vice-President, since 2002 I have been member of the Artistic Committee, and was chairman of the committee from 2003 to 2008. I am also member of the advisory board of the foundation Pro Renovanda Cultura Hungariae “In memory of Zoltán Kodály”.