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Happy birthday, Community Week!

Happy birthday, Community Week!

The Community Week of the Budapest Festival Orchestra celebrated a special anniversary this year: held between May 2-6, the community concert series was launched 10 years ago, in the spring of 2014.

For an entire decade, the BFO has organized Community Week events, in which different chamber formations bring music to nursing homes, children’s care homes, schools, churches, and synagogues. The aim of the initiative is to make music free and accessible to those who can’t make it to the concert hall.

The playful Music Castle (Zenevár) show, aimed at children, was performed at two Budapest locations: Ady Endre Primary School in the 20th district, and Váci Street Primary School of Music in the 5th district. The youngest audience members were introduced to the incomparable joy of music through the story of the Wizard of Oz. The originator, playwright, choreographer, and hostess of the Music Castle event is violinist Erika Illési, who was interviewed by Nők Lapja (Women’s Magazine) about the BFO’s children’s events a few months ago. This is what she shared about the Music Castle performances: “At these events we may meet children who have never seen a classical instrument before. To them, it doesn’t matter that we’re playing classical music: what they perceive is that we love what we do.”

The Golden Years concerts, created with an elderly audience in mind, visited one nursing home each in the towns of Páty, Gyöngyös, Pécel, and Kincsesbánya, two in Szombathely, and six in the capital. The magic of music means a great deal in these institutions. In the words of a journalist attending the Kincsesbánya concert, published on the county website: “In a fleeting hour everyone in attendance was given a gift that bathed the heart of the inhabitants in light and cast a golden glow on their day - as it did ours.” The Golden Years program is led and lovingly looked after by Lajos Dvorák cellist.

The 10th anniversary church concerts of the Community Week were held in the Holy Trinity Church of Gödöllő, and in the Reformed Church on Pozsonyi Street. The two churches delighted visitors with a baroque program: following a piece each by Sances and Buxtehude, Bach’s cantata titled Was frag ich nach der Welt was performed. The BFO’s baroque chamber orchestra and the church concerts were led by Eszter Lesták Bedő, with soloists Éva Bodrogi, Zoltán Gavodi, Péter Mészáros, and Krisztián Cser. The crew of the Reformed Church created a heartwarming video of the Pozsonyi Street concert (in Hungarian).

On May 2nd the Budapest Festival Orchestra gave a concert in the Synagogue of Mezőcsát during the anniversary week of the community concert series. For the second time in the history of our Synagogue concerts we returned to Mezőcsát, a small town of about 6,000 inhabitants in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén country. Saved by the collection efforts of a foundation created in the early 2000s, the once-dilapidated building was refurbished to make it worthy of the memory of Jakab Tannenbaum, the erstwhile rabbi prodigy. He raised and educated hundreds of young rabbi in the 19th century, and he wanted the synagogue to be the house of art and music. Under the leadership of Ákos Ács, the chamber orchestra of the BFO has made the walls of the hall resound with the masterpieces of Mozart and Elgar — and of course, klezmer. Rabbi Ákos Kurucz complemented the musical experience with interesting local history and humorous stories. Of course, the indispensable four-layered pastry, flódni also contributed to the almost familial atmosphere of the community event. And as it turned out, the concert attracted music aficionados from as far afield as Miskolc.

Our photos taken at the event capture more of the solemn joy of the occasion than any description ever could.

BFO Community Week, we wish you many more decades of rich and memorable experiences!