A standing ovation at a small Transylvanian village church, the first classical musical experience for nursing home residents and therapy for children with disabilities – this is how the Budapest Festival Orchestra would summarise this past Community Week. The orchestra feels driven to step out of the confines of the concert hall and take music out to those who could not otherwise enjoy its magic, even though it is sorely needed – a fact which became apparent again and again. The orchestra’s musicians performed sixteen concerts in five days and reached 1500 people. Community Week resumes in June.
“I worked the fields all my life, we never bothered with such things. I’d never thought how beautiful this music is, I even cried” – this is how one resident of the Sacred Heart Society in Pécel recounted the experience of the free concert the musicians of the Budapest Festival Orchestra (BFO) gave there. Another elderly resident said: “I had not yet awoken from winter! This music brought spring in for me and conjured up memories of my youth.”
In barely five days, the musicians of the Budapest Festival Orchestra performed sixteen concerts all across the country, from Kozármisleny in Baranya county through Kecskemét to Homrogd in Borsod county. This time they even skipped over to the small Transylvanian village of Kaplony to make music there as well. As such, the orchestra played what is generally only accessible in the world’s most prestigious concert halls, and made it available for some 1500 people. As one audience member put it: “Finally culture has been brought to people who would otherwise be unable to access it.”
One of the week’s defining moments came at the concert at the International Pető Institute, where disabled children got to listen to the BFO play. Eszter Szuhaj, a Conductor at the Institute, said: “Music creates community, it grows and develops your intellect and will-power. This is what our 120 disabled students have received from the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s concert.”
Besides the ten nursing homes and three child-care institutions, the musicians also gave concerts in a Catholic, a Calvinist and a Lutheran church. And even though it is common during the Festival Orchestra’s American tours, this time the audience gave a standing ovation in Kaplony, Transylvania, for the orchestra and the Baroque programme they performed on period instruments.
Next, from the 2nd to the 4th of June, the musicians of the BFO are going to be visiting synagogues that no longer serve their original purpose, to bring life to these buildings and remind those living nearby of the rich history of tolerance and diversity in Hungary.
The Festival Orchestra is planning to organise the next Community Week for September.