The Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Midnight Music series turns ten this year, offering audiences an opportunity to encounter classical music at night, in a relaxed setting, and accompanied by stories. The upcoming concerts in February will take place at the Budapest Congress Center, boasting a new layout and excellent acoustics. This time, the BFO and Iván Fischer will introduce the music of Stravinsky to the audience, who will be seated on bean bags among members of the ensemble.
A concert at night and in the middle of the orchestra: the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s Midnight Music series has been popular for a decade with all those who are open to classical music, but prefer to listen to it in non-traditional settings. It’s not necessary to dress up or to be familiar with the works on the program in order to encounter classical music as performed by one of the best orchestras in the world, and through the entertaining stories shared by Iván Fischer. The audience – most of whom are young – take their places on bean bags among the musicians of the orchestra. Tickets always sell out within days for the popular Midnight Music performances, so this time, as an exception, the Festival Orchestra will hold its next night-time concert at the Budapest Congress Center. But there was another reason for the one-off move: “Not only can the hall accommodate more people, but the acoustics were also an important consideration when choosing the BCC as the venue for the next Midnight Music performance. At our Christmas concert, thanks to the new layout of the hall designed by Iván Fischer, we saw that the venue has wonderful acoustics,” says Orsolya Erdődy. The BFO’s managing director added that the Surprise Concert in December, when the orchestra was seated in the middle of the hall, surrounded by the audience, was also an acoustics rehearsal: previously, they had only ever tried the arena-like layout without an audience, for a recording session. It was not only the orchestra who enjoyed the new sound, but also the audience. The BFO collected their feedback in a short film:
The new venue will allow a total of around 1200 people – up from 700 earlier – to listen to the orchestra from up close, seated on the stage and throughout the auditorium, with each ticket costing 2000 forints. The February 11 concert begins at 11:30 p.m., and will feature Stravinsky’s ballet music, Petrushka, which first premiered 111 years ago. At the end of 1910, the Russian composer, then in Switzerland, was preparing to sketch the score of the Rite of Spring. However, before starting it, he wrote a concert piece in order to relax. The director of the Russian Ballet was fascinated by the music about the bittersweet clown and encouraged Stravinsky to elaborate on it. That was the birth of Petrushka, the commedia dell’arte in the turmoil of a Russian fair. The ballet in four scenes, characterized by an ironic and grotesque tone, is about hopeless love, jealousy and murder.
The Budapest Festival Orchestra will dedicate its February orchestral concerts – and subsequent performances in London and Lyon – to Stravinsky: the concert line-up will feature Card Game, the Rite of Spring and the violin concerto – the latter with the solo performed by the provocatively original Patricia Kopatchinskaja.