The Budapest Festival Orchestra has been voted Orchestra of the Year by international audiences, as announced at the gala event of the Gramophone Awards on Tuesday evening. Iván Fischer’s ensemble competed for the audience award of the world’s most prestigious classical music magazine with, among others, the Vienna Philharmonic, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Based on a recording of Brahms’s Symphony No. 3 by Channel Classics, the Budapest Festival Orchestra was shortlisted among the ten best orchestras from which the audience could choose their favorite. The BFO, which had received more than one third of the votes, must have been voted for by audiences other than the Hungarian one, as well. Thanks to not only their albums, but also their intensive touring around the world, they have huge fanbases especially in the USA, the United Kingdom and Germany, among other countries.
Iván Fischer expressed his thanks for the award, emphasizing that since its foundation, the aim of the ensemble has always been to serve audiences of any generation both at home and internationally, in all manners. “I always tell my musicians that their task is to enjoy making music and share that joy with the audience”, said the BFO’s founder and music director. “For our musicians, this is a great achievement firstly because they don't play on unique, invaluable instruments, and secondly because this orchestra receives a fraction of the financial support of our established competitors. But the BFO has an exceptional spirit: the musicians deeply love the music they play and they share its beauty with the audiences in a way that no other orchestra does. Maybe we wouldn't have won if the criteria were perfection, shine or sound. But if happiness on stage and in the audience are measured, I agree with the vote. Thank you, all!", Iván Fischer added.
Now voted Orchestra of the Year, the BFO will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its foundation next year: the orchestra had its first public concert at the Liszt Academy, Budapest in December 1983. Over the past four decades, they have become one of the best classical music ensembles in the world, as a result of not only their high professional standards, but also their continuous renewal and non-traditional concert formats: in addition to regularly performing in the world's most prestigious concert halls, they give free chamber concerts in churches and former synagogues, as well as old people's homes or hospitals. In addition to their community activities, they are renowned for their creative performances, concerning both the music and the format of their concerts. Their Midnight Music events for the young with their informal nature, autism-friendly Cocoa Concerts or the year’s-end Surprise Concerts are all a testament to their creativity and commitment to audiences. Moreover, the BFO may be the only orchestra that often sings as encores. Also, Iván Fischer conducts and directs the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s opera productions that have been invited to the Mostly Mozart Festival, the Edinburgh International Festival and the Abu Dhabi Festival. The Marriage of Figaro was ranked first on the New York Magazine’s list of the best events in classical music in 2013.