“The Budapest Festival Orchestra has served the cultural life of Budapest for 30 years. The leaders of Hungary have decided to deprive the people of Budapest with a significant part of those concerts,” the orchestra’s musical director, Iván Fischer, has declared in a video message posted to YouTube.
Fischer says that, in response to having its 2016 budget cut mid-season by the City of Budapest “without consultation, meetings or discussions”, the orchestra has had to cancel concerts at home and abroad, as well as cultural and educational events intended to familiarize children and young adults with classical music.
Considered among the ten best orchestras in the world, Budapest Festival Orchestra has had to cancel four major concerts in Budapest plus performances in Ravenna, Riga, Vilnius and Saint Petersburg.
Fischer says the municipality’s decision to decrease the orchestra’s annual funding from HUF 260 million to HUF 60 million will result in the cancellation of the following cultural and educational programs:
- 30 events in primary schools intended to familiarize schoolchildren with musical instruments;
- 10 children’s opera performances;
- 3 major concerts at Budapest’s Palace of Culture;
- a midnight concert at the Millenáris Center;
- 10 chamber orchestra performances at retirement homes;
- 3 church concerts featuring the music of Johann Sebastian Bach;
- 3 chamber music concerts at “neglected synagogues” in the countryside; and
- 3 concerts for disadvantaged children.
Fischer, who has been openly critical of the cultural policies of the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, called on the people of Budapest to protest the City’s decision by rallying in central Vörösmarty Square.
The flashmob took place this past Saturday and was attended by several hundred people.