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We would like to move out of concert halls, go out to the audiences and play for them as part of community programmes, in synagogues, hospitals and old people’s homes – said conductor Iván Fischer at the press conference in the Óbuda synagogue on Monday morning.

This was where the joint programme of the Budapest Festival Orchestra and the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation (EMIH) was announced. The series of events will be launched in June in three different places, Mád, Albertirsa, Keszthely under the title “Concert and conversations in countryside synagogues”. The orchestra will play compositions by Leó Weiner, Betty Olivero and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartoldy, followed by conversations with the audience, who are invited by Slomó Köves, Executive Rabbi of the EMIH, to recall memories from the past.

Three synagogues: a refurbished one, an abandoned one and one used for a different purpose. Their fates symbolise the history of Hungary over the 70 years after the holocaust. During Nazism nearly all rural Jewish communities were annihilated, and the synagogues of cities and villages in the countryside have remained abandoned ever since. So let music play in them at least, a concert of 30 minutes, offered to locals as a gift. Let Jews and non-Jews come to those concerts, bringing with them their memories they are willing to share with others, let them talk about how Jews and Christians used to live together, what life was like when the now silent places were full of life.

As Slomó Köves put it, the conversations following the concerts will not focus on the holocaust only in terms of facts, but on the losses as well. Lack of understanding and ignorance lead to new catastrophes. According to a recent survey of Medián and TEV, although the amount of people’s holocaust-related knowledge has grown, the attitude denying it has also gained strength. Words are not enough to combat this phenomenon. Music is instrumental in this. Secular compositions of Jewish composers will be on the programme. The venue, the synagogue, facilitates revelations, brings closer to the audience the mystery and the unknown, which – by nature – is frightening. All this will lead to the end of ignorance, prejudices and misunderstanding.

In response to the question of Gut Sabesz on recordings made of the recollections inspired by concerts and music, the organisers promised to produce publications related to these events.

Concert dates:

16 JUNE 2014, 7.00PM – ALBERTIRSA

17 JUNE 2014, 7.00PM – KESZTHELY

18 JUNE 2014, 7.00PM – MÁD