Budapest Festival Orchestra
Interviews September 05, 2016

“Recharging intellectually”

László Herboly, the percussionist of the Budapest Festival Orchestra will play in several programmes of the Bridging Europe festival between 21 and 28 September, Müpa Budapest. Why is it worth participating? You can find the answers in this interview by Magyar Narancs below.

What does Bridging Europe mean to you?

László Herboly: A couple of years ago, when the festival started, I didn't really care about its theme. It all seemed new and interesting, yet basically I took it as a musical challenge. This current Bridging Europe festival is already the fourth time we’ve opened a season like this, so by now we’ve had enough time to get used to being dropped into different and exciting worlds. The Czech, German and Austrian experiences of the past few years have filled us with the necessary determination to deliberately ‘open the door’ and relish the cultural riches of France. This is a way in which an artist can use an assignment to recharge intellectually. Practically, we have nothing else to do but listen and ‘submit’ ourselves to growing richer.

What will be your contribution to the festival?

LH: I’ll be playing four concerts with the Budapest Festival Orchestra. On 23, 24 and 26 September, Iván Fischer will be conducting a very colourful and truly French programme of Satie, Dutilleux, Ravel and Debussy – it’ll be real Parisian cavalcade. On the 25th, meanwhile, I’ll be taking part in an equally exciting contemporary production, conducted by Ilan Volkov. Those looking for captivating eccentricities, and French ones at that, should make sure not to miss this musical experience.

What else of interest can we see at the festival?

LH: Bridging Europe 2016 will also feature the BFO’s Baroque ensemble, led by the internationally-renowned specialist of French early music, Hervé Niquet. And we shouldn’t overlook the five-time Grammy award winning pianist-composer, Michel Legrand. It is he who will open the festival on the 21st. Jean-Luc Ponty, the unique-sounding virtuoso of the jazz violin, is going to be making music for us on the 27th, while the legendary Juliette Gréco will bring the week to a close.

Why did you become a percussionist?

LH: I come from a family of musicians, so I had to play piano and learn solfège – but I really didn’t take to it. I was much more excited about football. Later, a horn teacher cunningly lured me to play the drums in a wind orchestra. At first I didn't understand what I would be doing there as a pianist, but he told me that the ensemble was about to travel to Cuba where half naked African women would be expecting us, so I went for it. At long last I didn't have to play on my own – in the orchestra I could make noise with others, so I began to like it. That said, I still haven’t been to Cuba.

Do percussionists enjoy a good reputation in Hungary these days?

LH: This is the most complex and versatile class of instruments and, due to developments in information technology, over the past 50 years it has become the most dynamically improving ‘branch’ of music. These days, a percussionist has to specialise in instruments and musical styles. Whether this gives you a reputation, I’m not sure. Rather it gives you tasks which require you show humility in your work.

Of all your idols, with whom would you like to share the stage?

LH: Is there a stage big enough for that? It would quite a challenge to list them. But if it were to happen now, I would gladly join Legrand’s orchestra and would be also delighted to play with Jean-Luc Ponty.

Bridging Europe 2016 is a collaborative event between the Budapest Festival Orchestra and Müpa Budapest. This year’s French Days last from 21 to 28 September.

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