Born: February 12, 1974 Primary Instrument: Viola
Szilard Mezei was born on February 12th, 1974 in Senta, Serbia (then Yugoslavia) as a member of the Hungarian minority in the multiethnic region of Vojvodina. He completed his violin studies in Senta and Subotica and studied composition for four years at the University of Arts in Beograd with Prof. Zoran Eric. As violinist, violist, double bass player and composer and in various formations (from duo to nonet) he has held many concerts: Senta, Kanizsa the Jazz, Improvisative Music Festival, Subotica, Novi Sad (all Serbia, then Yugoslavia), Maribor (Slovenija), Szeged (Hungary, MASZK Festival), Budapest (Hungary, FONO), Gyor (Hungary, Mediawave Festival, also Gyorfree Impro Workshops, Gyergyószentmiklós (Romania), Leverkusen (Germany, Leverkusener Jazz Tage), Düsseldorff (Germany, Düsseldorffer Altsadt Herbst- special prize for improvisation), Copenhagen and Aarhus (Denmark, Magic Music Festival), Kluj-Napoca (Romania, Charta Minimumia Festival), Odorhei Secuiesc (Romania), Beograd (Serbia, Ring Ring Festival), PEcs (Hungary, Gassztro Fest, POSZT), Kishegyes (Dombos Fest), Copenhagen, Aero, Aalborg, Aarhus (Denmark, tour with the Creative Workshop Ensemble), Debrecen (Debrecen Jazz Days), Klagenfurt (CIK, Austria, 2004), London (Klinker Nunhead, 2005), Cerkno Jazz Fest (Slovenia), Avignon, Warszawa.
His orchestra plays contemporary improvised music, mostly performing his own compositions. As a composer, Mezei is interested in exploring the relationship between improvisation and composition (similarly to Witold LutoslawskI aleatoric and Anthony Braxton's creative music methods), incorporating elements of jazz and authentic folk music as well. As a young musician he followed the path of B.Bartok and Gy.Szabados. Mezei is also very actively involved in composing scenic music and plays authentic Hungarian folk music on genuine folk instruments (koboz and oud).
Since 2001, Mezei is closely collaborating with choreographer Josef Nadj, director of the 'Centre Chorégraphique National Orleans in Orleans, France. Their mutual project 'Les Philosophes' was selected theatre-piece of the year 2001 in France. The play was performed with great success at the Festival of Dance in Cannes, France 2001, in Avignon 2002, in Brugge (Belgium - the capital of European Culture for the year 2002), in Orleans in October 2002, in Paris in May 2003, in Reggio Emilia (Italy), in Le Havre, in Nantes (France) 2004, and in London 2005. In 2006 they collaborated on a new project 'Asobu' (together with co-composer Akosh S.). This play was premiered at the Festival Avignon in 2006, then successfuly toured Europe and Japan.
In 2003 Mezei was invited by the Creative Workshop Ensemble of Denmark to tour in that country, performing some of his compositions. In 2007 He was invited to play with The Fonda / Stevens Group. They held concerts in Magyarkanizsa, Zagreb, Graz, Oberwart, Cerkno, performing compositions by Michael Jefry Stevens, Joe Fonda and Mezei.
His String Trio has performed at the Festival of Contemporary Music Ondine in Rovereto, Italy . The composition Trio for Flute, Piano and Percussion won the 3rd prize at the 7th International Review of Composers in Beograd 1998 in the category of student-composers. As a performer Mezei participated in many workshops of improvised and intuitive music (with Tim Hodgkinson in Budapest, William Parker in Gyor, among others). He jhas played so far with musicians/improvisors like Matthias Schubert, Tamas Geroly, Robert Benko, Gyorgy Szabados, Mihaly Dresch, Michael Hornstein, Tim Hodgkinson, Albert Markos, Peter Ole Jorgensen, Jens Balder, Akos Szelevenyi, Joe Fonda, Michael Jefry Stevens, Joelle Leandre, Hamid Drake, Herb Robertson, Frank Gratkowski. His writings on music were published in many periodicals in Former-Yugoslavia and Hungary.
Mezei is a member of the Composers Association of Serbia and the Hungarian Gyorfree Jazz, Improvisative, Contemporary and Folk Music Workshop Comitee.
He lead the Szilárd Mezei Trio, Szilárd Mezei Quintet (Sextet / Septet / Octet), and plays in many formations (duo, trio, etc.) for improvising music (in duet with Gyorgy Szabados, and with his orchestra MAKUZ, The Fonda/Stevens Group).