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Dancing on the Square for tolerance

Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra once again put on their grand open-air concert, the Dancing on the Square on 17 June, 2018. More than 500 disadvantaged and more privileged children from all across Hungary were dancing together to Brahms’ Hungarian Dances. Iván Fischer, the BFO and the invited gipsy musicians dedicated the concert in memoriam to the recently deceased, Kossuth Prize winner cimbalom player Oszkár Ökrös. This year’s Dancing on the Square concert took place in a new location – in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica, Budapest.

The Budapest Festival Orchestra founded the Dancing on the Square project in 2015. It is not just about music and dancing together, but also about mutual responsibility, tolerance and respect.

The most important participants in the project are the mostly underprivileged children, who become the real heroes of the day by dancing together to the live accompaniment by the Festival Orchestra. They work for months towards a common goal, and they can enjoy the fruits of their labour as part of a genuine creative community in Budapest. The chief choreographer for the production is Harangozó Prize winner Bertalan Vári.

The Dancing on the Square project is far more than a simple open-air concert. Alongside the rehearsals, we organise regional meetings and summer camps with drama, music, dance and game workshops, with professional support from the Foundation for Democratic Youth, enabling the children to get to know one another so they can learn to trust each other and cooperate more.


The Budapest Festival Orchestra

The Budapest Festival Orchestra is one of the major success stories of the Hungarian music scene, being rated among the world’s top ten orchestras; the New York Times has even gone as far as to say they “might be the best orchestra in the world”. We perform regularly in the most important of concert halls, from Carnegie Hall to the Musikverein, but alongside our international successes our most important mission is to bring the beauty of classical music to every layer of Hungarian society.

We believe that music can connect people with vastly different backgrounds and directions in life. We bravely venture along untrodden paths, and each year we come up with new kinds of concerts for the youngest generation.

Our educational programme is unrivalled. We bring Choose your Instrument sessions to schools; our regular Cocoa Concert programmes are now interspersed with Autism-friendly ones; Music Castle sees us making not just music, but also instruments alongside the children; and we work with hundreds of underprivileged children during the Dancing on the Square project. Our Community concerts mean we’re making ever more frequent appearances at alternative venues, away from concert halls where we can create an intimate connection with the audience, be it in nursing homes, abandoned synagogues, hospitals, child-care institutions, or prisons.

Iván Fischer

Iván Fischer is the founder and Music Director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra. He is also the Music Director of Berlin’s Konzerthaus and Konzerthausorchester. On top of that, he has gained a reputation as a composer, with his works being performed in the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, Hungary, Germany and Austria. He has directed a number of highly successful opera productions.

As a guest conductor, he regularly conducts the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the Concertgebouw Orchestra, as well as working with some of the great US orchestras. He is an innovator, and has been bringing the Festival Orchestra’s concerts to abandoned synagogues since 2014.

In addition to his international prizes (including the Crystal Award, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, the Royal Philharmonic Society Award, the Ovatie Prize and an honorary membership to the Royal Academy of Music) he has also received the Kossuth and Prima Primissima Awards. In 28 March, 2015 he received the Abu Dhabi Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2016, he won the Association of Music Critics of Argentina’s award for Best Foreign Conductor.