In the wake of touring Europe’s most prestigious festivals and the megalopoleis of South America, the Budapest Festival Orchestra (BFO) is going on tour around Hungary’s small villages and provincial towns. A special Autism-friendly Cocoa Concert will complement the free Community Week programme, during which the young (and mostly Roma) inhabitants of Cserdi will be able to enjoy the orchestra’s performances just as much as the audience in the abandoned synagogue at Dombóvár.
The Budapest Festival Orchestra is organising the next Community Week to run between September 23 and 7 October. The orchestra, considered one of the best in the world, goes on tour several times a year to bring music to those who, for financial, social or health reasons, cannot otherwise enjoy it.
This autumn, Community Week will feature a new type of concert, the Autism-friendly Cocoa Concert, where Iván Fischer and his orchestra will welcome autistic children and their families. As the BFO’s music director puts it: “A child who finds it difficult to express themselves in words may be reached through music, since they share the same feelings as anybody else. And there is so much to do! We need research, surveys, co-operation with other professions, international consultations.” The young, mostly Roma people of Cserdi in Baranya county will get the chance to enjoy a performance by the orchestra. The mayor’s hard work in Cserdi has brought results that go against widespread prejudices. The children of Mindszent, one of the towns which inspired writer Ferenc Móra, are going to receive the gift of a Cocoa Concert as well.
The BFO is continuing its performances in abandoned synagogues. They will be performing at the Dombóvár synagogue, an exciting venue which is completely abandoned, unused and lacks even a door. The interesting thing about the Cegléd synagogue is that even though it preserves its original look from the outside, for 50 years it has held a gym inside the building after the 670-member Jewish community was forced to sell it. The Gyöngyös synagogue, the second largest outside the Hungarian capital, was once a furniture shop. Renovations to transform it into a cultural space began last year. (The Synagogue Concerts are a joint production of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, the Unified Hungarian Jewish Congregation and the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities.)
Church Concerts remain a pillar of the Community Week. The BFO’s musicians will bring Bach’s music, performed authentically on period instruments, to the St Joseph Parish Church at Mátyásföld, the Evangelical Church in Székesfehérvár and to the Reformed Church in Nyírbátor.
Those living in nursing homes will also have the chance of a concert experience. Surpassing the first Community Week’s five concerts, this time around the musicians will perform at twelve different venues, from Budapest through Bátonyterenye in Nógrád county to Újszász in Jászság.