Iván Fischer has found a new sound at the Budapest Congress Center. This February, the Festival Orchestra’s musicians were sitting in the auditorium during a recording and it Turned out that the symphony orchestra sounds marvelous from the middle of the hall in the nearly forty-year-old building.
“There is hardly a more enigmatic science than acoustics. We need immense luck for a room to have a really beautiful sound. There are a few things that we know, but there are so many elements that add up before the sound, which also touches the walls, reaches our ears that it can’t be calculated in advance. The Budapest Congress Center was never famous for its wonderful sound, but the miracle did happen on a day in February: in order to make a recording, the orchestra was sitting in the middle of the room instead of on the stage, and we were awe-struck. We could hear the kind of beautiful sound you find in only a couple of exceptionally lucky concert halls in the whole world”, said Iván Fischer. The new acoustics are the result of the arena-like arrangement surrounding the orchestra, which, at the same time, also creates a more intimate atmosphere, as the musicians will not just be closer to the first rows but to everybody. This new auditorium will be introduced at the orchestra’s Christmas Surprise Concert. “We’ve been wondering about this since February. How can we regularly share this beautiful sound with the audience? We’re going to reveal this miracle at Christmas. This will be our Christmas present for Budapest and Hungary”, the music director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra added.
The Festival Orchestra has performed several Surprise Concerts, where the program is announced by Iván Fischer only at the performance, right before the actual pieces. At the new auditorium of the Surprise Concert on December 26, the program will be enjoyed by an audience of nearly 300 people on the stage, another 250 in the chairs next to the orchestra and 1,100 in the rows. We can even witness the birth of a “multigenerational” concert form: about 50 young music lovers will be able to listen to the fantastic new acoustics, the result of the new arrangement, from the bean-bags placed among the musicians.
The new solution was also welcomed by the designer of the Budapest Congress Centre, József Finta, who even developed a concept with his colleague for the arena-like reconstruction of the nearly forty-year-old building. The relatively low-cost transformation could not only enrich Buda, but also Hungary with a world-class concert hall. On the BFO’s tours, the orchestra usually experiences the differences in the acoustics of the venues, and also how much not only architectural features matter but also furnishings and other equipment, such as canopies or wall and floor coverings. The idea of audiences sitting around the orchestra works very well in several venues abroad. For example, the great sound of the Philharmonie Berlin, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg or the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles is partly the result of their arena-like arrangement.