Philip Glass sent a personal message for the Festival Orchestra’s Saturday concert, which included the European premiere of the world-famous composer’s monumental piece. An estimated seven thousand people turned out for the BFO’s season-closing concert, held once again in Heroes’ Square after a five-year absence.
“I am very pleased that the Budapest Festival Orchestra will present the European Premiere performances of my work, The Passion of Ramakrishna, in Hungary and Italy. I hope the words of Ramakrishna resonate with the new audience. Thank you,” was world-renowned American composer Philip Glass’s message for the event. Some seven thousand people turned out to listen to his oratorio in Heroes’ Square on Saturday, conducted by Iván Fischer. Composed in 2006, the grandiose piece featured Peter Harvey (baritone), Maria Stella Maurizi (soprano), Szilárd Szilágyi (tenor), Ildikó Földesi (soprano) and Péter Magyar (countertenor), as well as the Cantemus Mixed Choir from Nyíregyháza, led by Soma Szabó. The orchestra will perform the piece in a few days in Italy, as the opening act of the Festival of the Two Worlds in Spoleto. Joining the BFO on stage will be the choir of the National Academy of St Cecilia, established in Rome more than five hundred years ago.
Named one of the ten best orchestras in the world, the Festival Orchestra has been holding free open-air concerts for nearly three decades. The performance marked its return to Heroes’ Square after five years, following concerts at Szent István Square and the Tabán. After Spoleto, the BFO will take a break for the summer, during which they will be rehearsing Britten’s opera entitled The Turn of the Screw. Come August, the BFO will perform in Switzerland, Germany and Italy, and has also promised to treat Hungarian audiences at Lake Balaton to a number of smaller surprise concerts during the summer.