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This was the second time the Budapest Festival Orchestra had given free concerts to those who otherwise would never get to concert halls. In the nineteen concerts held during the community week, musicians played to three-thousand people. The Festival Orchestra will be continuing this tradition and visiting new locations in May all over the country to share the joy of live music with the locals.

“Who’s the director of the Opera? That’s not important. But who’s the music teacher in Kisvárda? That is.” (Zoltán Kodály)

The Budapest Festival Orchestra during its community week gave nineteen free concerts at various venues all over the country, from Kisvárda on the borders with Ukraine through Battonya in the south to Kőszeg. Three thousand people were able to listen to music played in elderly homes, SOS Children’s Villages, churches and synagogues.

This autumn the orchestra visited three SOS Children’s Villages in Hungary for the first time: in Kőszeg, Battonya and Kecskemét. These villages are homes to children who for some reason cannot live with their biological families. The young children were extremely open and receptive to the music, and the orchestra met its youngest listener ever: a one-week infant. Our tuba player, József Bazsinka, talked about the experience: “Knowing the serious emotional traumas these young children went through due to the carelessness of their parents or the loss of them gives me a lump in my throat. I convey love to them when playing, trying to become part of their lives and make them feel how every tiny piece and crumble of love can make a big difference and change their lives.”

The elderly, many of them disabled, welcomed the musicians with gratitude and love, those confined to bed followed the concerts on screens and through loudspeakers. The concerts evoked a great number of fond memories and were a source of enormous joy and pleasure. An elderly lady expressed her gratitude for the experience with these words: “It is not you who should bow, it is us who should bow to you.”

The orchestra played to three full houses in the three free concerts held in churches (Leányfalu, Zsámbék, Buda Castle), thus nearly 1000 people could enjoy the music of Bach. As someone from the audience put it: “Today it is rare for a church to be full of people, sacraments and music born out of divine inspiration go hand in hand – this was felt by every listener and musician yestrday.”

In the spirit of tradition, the orchestra again played in three synagogues (Szekszárd, Szolnok and Kisvárda) that no longer serve their original function. The aim is to draw attention to Jewish heritage and familiarise local communities with the tolerance that was once prevalent throughout Hungary. Though these Jewish communities completely ceased to exist in most places, the locals have vivid memories of cohabitation in the past. These memories were now recalled with the help of Rabbi Slomó Köves.

The next community week to share the joy of classical music with as many as possible will be organised by the Budapest Festival Orchestra in May 2015.