Budapest orchestra takes to the streets to make its music heard in lockdown
Isobel Ewing in Budapest


Concerts in Budapest may have stopped under coronavirus restrictions but the show has carried on thanks to creative thinking with classical music brought to people's homes.

The Budapest Festival Orchestra has split into small groups and headed around the city during June giving performances to delighted music lovers.

There have been more than 200 free performances given by the orchestra in the courtyards of apartment blocks around Budapest.

"We have known the Budapest Festival Orchestra for a long time," resident Julianna Boros said.

"We regularly go to their concerts, so when we saw their call on Facebook, we had no doubt about applying.

"I asked the neighbors and everyone said that it was a great idea. So we quickly organized this, and luckily we were selected as a concert venue. It was a great experience for all of us."

The musicians have spent two evenings a week for the past month serenading residents, with the small chamber groups each doing four performances a night at different locations.


Musicians from the Budapest Festival Orchestra play to residents of an apartment block. /CGTN

Musicians from the Budapest Festival Orchestra play to residents of an apartment block. /CGTN


Time slots for the 15 minute performances are agreed on in advance, and all that residents need to do is step out on to their terraces or watch from an open window.

"It was really surprising but a very beautiful thing. It's a brilliant idea," said David Spah, another delighted resident.

The musicians are also grateful to have an audience again.

"We missed the audience so much," said violinist Emese Gulyas. "It's nice to play online concerts but the feeling is different when we see the faces and we have the applause and we feel that they are open-hearted."

The outdoor setting does bring its own challenges – extra hands are required to keep music stands from blowing over in the wind.

"This is very familiar for us because usually we play in chamber music concerts and this feeling is very similar to that, because it's so intimate, and we feel we are like a family because we are in the family's home now," Gulyas says.

The orchestra asks only for smiles and applause in return for the gift of music, which of course they do get.

But their audiences also make sure they never leave empty-handed – thanking them with fresh fruit, homemade baking and chocolates.

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