Two performances by the Budapest Festival Orchestra have been voted among the ten most notable and funniest classical music performances of 2014 in the world, respectively.
Under the ten funniest performances of 2014 The New York Times lists the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Dvořák concert with one percussionist playing crotale on Iván Fischer’s conductor podium at Avery Fisher Hall in New York. According to the newspaper, the music director of the Festival Orchestra often and routinely draws on unexpected and surprising elements in performances. And the gag worked: having been put in an unusual place, the instrument became the focus of the evening.
The New Yorker deems Iván Fischer to be one of the most radically minded conductors, including two of his projects in its top ten list of the world’s notable performances and recordings of 2014.
The Midnight Music concert that the younger generation are curious to see is also highlighted, enabling audiences sitting on beanbags in the midst of musicians to enjoy music up close and personal. This type of innovative concert has been in the centre of attention in several world-class concert halls and orchestras, providing inspiration for them. The American journal also cites Iván Fischer’s opera entitled The Red Heifer as a sardonic indictment of modern Hungarian anti-Semitism.
In 2014, two sold-out concerts in London attracted similarly wide acclaim when 6,000 people crammed into the Royal Albert Hall to hear the orchestra’s performance at the BBC Proms. According to The Guardian, BFO concerts were among the most popular based on ticket sales. British newspapers reported on breath-taking performances, amazing sensitivity, deep concentration and perfect unity. The Times referred to the Festival Orchestra as an excellent and shining orchestra with musicians breathing as one. International symphony orchestras increasingly resemble each other, but the sound of the Festival Orchestra is unique – wrote one critic of The Evening Standard, adding that Iván Fischer achieves miracles with his orchestra.
The BFO not only enjoys success abroad, it also increasingly performs in Hungary at alternative venues for free, besides its usual concert hall performances. This way, classical music is brought to people who are otherwise unable to buy a ticket or go to Budapest for a concert. Musicians play at more and more venues outside Budapest, including hospitals, elderly homes, children’s homes, schools, prisons and abandoned synagogues to bring the joy of music to the audience’s door.
In addition to an international presence and music in the community, the Festival Orchestra also spares time for boosting its educational activities. Almost forty schools now have a chance to enjoy free music programmes ranging from the Taste of Musical Instruments sessions through Rehearsal Visits to children’s operas performed at schools and the master course.