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Classical music is for everyone: the BFO's new campaign pushes the boundaries


Classical music is for everyone: the BFO's new campaign pushes the boundaries

Budapest Festival Orchestra launches new image campaign. The main message: that classical music belongs to all, and that the BFO is one to push the real or perceived boundaries of classical music over and over again.

“Classical music is only for serious gentlemen and ladies. You don’t party to classical music wearing jeans! And you never, ever touch the instruments!” - there are so many preconceived notions out there when it comes to classical music, and it’s actually understandable: few are fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by classical music or have the chance to learn to play an instrument. And if you don’t have these experiences growing up, finding your way to a concert hall could feel like a challenge. Which piece is right for you? When should you not applaud? What should you pay attention to? These are questions which may make this world seem closed to an outsider. For almost 40 years, the Budapest Festival Orchestra has been motivated by two goals: to bring classical music to as many people as possible, and to do so in the best quality possible. It was clear already at the 1983 founding of the orchestra that these goals can only be achieved by breaking through boundaries: at the time, this also meant dismantling geographic boundaries, including the Iron Curtain. Today, it is enough to “simply” fight conventions and social limits. It was with a view to promoting our mission that we launched a campaign built around a short movie. The film, produced in both 30-second and 90-second versions, will be unique in that it will not feature a single second of new footage, but will be composed of archive video. The images depict how BFO musicians tell children about their instruments at our Choose your Instrument workshops; how our Dancing on the Square performances involve hundreds of underprivileged young people dancing together; how our orchestral concerts may incorporate two musicians launching into a dance; and how our chamber music formations visited Budapest buildings at times when audiences could not visit concert halls. Each shot demonstrates just how important it really is to the Festival Orchestra for everyone to share in the joy of classical music. The image movie concludes with scenes from the orchestra’s New Year’s performance of the Anthem, spotlighting the special New Year’s Eve choir seen on RTL Klub, in which the singing musicians were joined by, among others, persons with disabilities, a nurse and a police officer, a follower of Krishna Consciousness and a Roma little girl.

“The Budapest Festival Orchestra has always been known for testing the boundaries, be that in a musical sense or in terms of concert access: it is in part thanks to this that the BFO has once again been chosen one of the 10 best orchestras in the world. Our success within and beyond the geographic boundaries of the country has been uninterrupted for nearly 40 years. We are proud of the fact that we are appreciated both at Carnegie Hall and in Gagybátor, in nursing homes and at Müpa Budapest,” said Orsolya Erdődy, Managing Director of the orchestra.

The new concert series “Iván’s Stories” is also part of testing the boundaries. The concerts are intended mostly for those who may be less familiar with the world of classical music, but would like to immerse themselves in it and feel comfortable in the concert hall setting. Iván Fischer, Music Director of the BFO and the originator of the new type of concerts, will not only select wonderful music for each weekend afternoon performance, but will share exciting stories related to the pieces, told in his unique style, with some light humor. Audience members will also be able to ask questions on-site via text message.

The BFO has once again this year been included on the BBC Classical Music TOP10 list, an alphabetic listing of the world’s best symphony orchestras. The roster includes prestigious orchestras such as the Berlin, the Vienna and the Los Angeles Philharmonic or the London Symphony Orchestra. In its short commendation, the magazine makes special mention of the BFO’s highly acclaimed Mahler recordings, as well as the diversity of the orchestra in terms of styles and periods, which also provides the foundations of the new campaign.

The communications campaign is the work of advertising agency McCANN Budapest. In addition to the short movie, the creative piece is also being run as a radio ad and is featured in online and print media ads; the latter include images of the non-musician singers of the Anthem paired up with a member of the orchestra, with a caption questioning some of the stereotypes associated with classical music.

Click the link to view the campaign film.