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Xpat Report: EU Presidency Ended With 'The Danube Party' In Budapest

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Xpat Report: EU Presidency Ended With 'The Danube Party' In Budapest
"The three-day Danube Party festival marking the end of the Hungarian presidency of the Council of the European Union offered around one hundred programs on both banks of the Danube between 24 and 26 June. Apart from music, dance and theatre productions full of show elements, asphalt-drawing contests and projection of images, water processions, fair, and traditional Hungarian delicacies made the farewell party memorable.



In the evening of 24 June the Danube Party started with FireDance in Clark Ádám Square. The show was a mystic blend of traditional Hungarian and world music, different cultures and styles with a wonderful touch of Central-European and African rhythms, jazz and folk. Gábor Németh “Némo” and Bálint Bársony’s music and the artistic director of the Honvéd Dance Theatre Zoltán Zsuráfszky’s choreography proved how treasures of folk dance and music could be used and made alive and tailored to the present without committing blasphemy against tradition.

Fusion was strengthened by sight and costumes, too: the outfits inspired by folk and traditional historic costumes illustrated that our heritage could be perfectly understood and interpreted. Fire jugglers and provocative contemporary dance were organic parts of the production, and the VJ-s painted the entrance of the Tunnel with “Hungarian mandalas” full of tulips and magic deer. The crowds gathered in Clark Ádám Square were completely enthralled by the musicians and dancers’ buoyancy. The creators of FireDance have definitely achieved their goal, as this fire reached its public in Hungary and abroad, too.

On Saturday, from morning till night there were programs in dozens of places. In Clark Ádám Square and Bem upper quay the Traditional Budapest and Hospitable Budapest concentrated on world music: the visitors were entertained by Hungarian folk musicians and dancers, while on Bem upper quay there were interactive programs and concerts offered by different European cultural institutions. Kati Wolf was the star of the stage situated at the mouth of the Tunnel. Between the songs she talked to the audience, had a little girl sing a solo, and thousands of people joined her refrain which had become so popular at the Eurovision Song Contest.

Claire Hollier and Daniel Ostfeld’s duo from Lyon, the 1 Tour 2 Chants was the guest of the French Institute. Thanks to the creative vocals and scores it seemed as if there was a complete orchestra. All in all, we got a taste of the French approach to life. In between the concerts the kinds took part in asphalt-drawing contest. The Crayola Company provided the little ones special three-colour asphalt chalks, and the drawings rich in European Union and Danube motifs could be admired with 3D glasses.

Pre-War Budapest awaited visitors with an atmosphere of the 1920s and 1930s, mostly remembered from black-and-white movies: jazz, chanson, Gypsy and saloon music, presentations and workshops of ancient handicrafts, all of this on 25 June at Vigadó Square. This journey in time was made even more perfect by the 100-year-old nostalgia tram of the Budapest Public Transport Company. One station farther the tent of Educated Budapest offered a wide range of literary programmes, while TV and radio fans had the opportunity to learn the secrets of making programs at the studios of the Duna TV, the Hungarian Radio and MTI (Hungarian Telegraph Office).

Musical Budapest featured the biggest names of Hungarian music scene: singers, bands, orchestras and composers of all genres entertained the audience on 25 June in the park in front of Palace of Arts. Thanks to the Fele Királyság, the audience got a taste of the notion of Esti Mashup (Night Mashup) at 1 p.m. The four-member company offered the main title soundtracks of tales in a new interpretation, alternating various musical genres: Master Mekk’s well-known melody was mixed with some ska and metal; Süsü the dragon sang us reggae, but there were extremely ingenious X-Files (Woáör) and Terminator (Sztalavi) transcriptions, too.

In the afternoon the Four Fathers a cappella stars and Jazzmania Big Band made their appearance with lively jazz, modern jazz rock and funky melodies, as well as Chick Corea’s Spain or Stevie Wonder’s so popular song For Once in My Life. Modern Art Orchestra led by Kornél Fekete-Kovács played contemporary grand orchestra music. An interesting fact is that the composers of those pieces – e.g. the young and talented saxophonist János Ávéd and the trumpeter Gábor Subicz – are also members of the orchestra. After the instrumental part we could hear the lovely guest singer of the concert, Nikoletta Szőke. The audience was fascinated by the pearls of contemporary and latest Hungarian jazz.

On 25 June Comic Budapest offered us eleven theatre premieres by eight different companies from the capital, mostly light-hearted pieces meant to make us laugh. The guests were guided by Anna Peller and Máté Kerényi Miklós in the colourful cavalcade of programmes of Bajor Gizi Park. The Kolibri Theatre for Children and Youth’s performance Mattie the Goose-boy was a wonderful surprise for the little ones. This was followed by Best of Madách, a selection from the most successful productions of the Madách Theatre. Tímea Balog, Gábor Bot, Anita Fábián, Barbara Fonyó, Nikolett Gallusz, Victor Posta, Béla Szerednyey, Judit Szilvási, Attila Tóth and Róbert Weil sang pieces from Anna Karenina, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera.

Örkény Theatre was represented by Anikó Für accompanied by Róbert Hrutka and his company. At this point the park seemed to be a smaller Woodstock, as the large number of audience was sitting or lying on the grass. The actress started with the folk song Hej, Dunáról fúj a szél (From Danube the Wind Blows) without accompaniment, followed by the Géza Bereményi’s sweet and gloomy, nostalgic poems set to music on the discs Nőstény álom (Female Dream) and Kitalált világ (Imaginary World).

The picturesque Kopaszi Dam was a perfect spot for the whole-day cultural picnic for families. The idyllic riverbank was not only a venue of classical, pop and jazz music productions, but also of concerts for the youngest children. In addition, members of the audience with an enterprising spirit could also join the musicians. In the afternoon the virtuoso György Oravecz gave a Liszt concert in the music pavilion decorated with caricatures of the composer born two hundred years ago, and then the Ewald Brass Quintet entertained the families with small children arriving for the presentation of musical instruments of the Liszt Academy of Music. In the afternoon the young and fine jazz singer, Juli Fábián and her band appeared on the big stage built onto the riverbank.

Budapest Puppet Theatre introduced a short fragment of Dániel Varró’s tale Over the Smear Mountain (Túl a Maszat-hegyen). (Music: Gábor Presser; played by: Norbert Ács, Eszter Bánky, István Bassa, Judit Kovács, Borbála Karádi, Csaba Teszárek, István Kemény, Zsolt Tatai, Judit Rusz; director: Géza Kovács.) The kids watched the thirty-minute show with sparkling eyes. The Vígszínház program of music, verse and prose was also a great attraction in Bajor Gizi Park. The topic was none other than theatre, which was spoken of in happy and ironic words.

There were songs about theatre; Béla Fesztbaum gave a long speech about theatre gossips; Géza Hegedűs D. recited Attila József’s Ode (Óda); and the director Enikő Eszenyi, and the actresses Ildikó Tornyi and Éva Igó were also present. The legendary Ferenc Darvas played the piano, which was a real surprise for the visitors. The next guest was the Harmadik figyelmeztetés company. The actor’s band was founded by the artists of the Hungarian Theatre (Magyar Színház) in 2009. Their program consisted of “Music from the ‘60s to yesterday for those who would listen to them today the way we play them”. On Saturday they played a humorous, special interpretation of pieces like Csak egy tánc volt (It Was Just a Dance), Darabot a szívemből (A Piece of My Heart) and Valami Amerika (A Kind of America).

The picturesque Kopaszi Dam was a perfect spot for the whole-day cultural picnic for families. The idyllic riverbank was not only a venue of classical, pop and jazz music productions, but also of concerts for the youngest children. In addition, members of the audience with an enterprising spirit could also join the musicians. In the afternoon the virtuoso György Oravecz gave a Liszt concert in the music pavilion decorated with caricatures of the composer born two hundred years ago, and then the Ewald Brass Quintet entertained the families with small children arriving for the presentation of musical instruments of the Liszt Academy of Music. In the afternoon the young and fine jazz singer, Juli Fábián and her band appeared on the big stage built onto the riverbank.

The dragon boats were already training behind them, as at 5-5:30 p.m. the scenes were linked by a spectacular dragon boat competition and procession, where even the Olympic Games winners were pulling the oars. More than two hundred water vehicles of various kinds – kayak, canoe, raft, dragon boat – guaranteed an excellent show and a superb afternoon on the programme sites.

Etnofaun – Ágoston Béla formation’s show started on the big stage at 5:30 p.m. The leader of the band is a many-sided musician – among others he plays the saxophone, taragot, clarinet, viola, bagpipe, gardony and steel drum, and he sings as well –, and he seems to be as omnivorous what the different styles are concerned, too. He created a special mixture of jazz, rock and folk-world music. Their specific adaptations consisted of beatbox and rap solos, and the music was made even more interesting by darbuka and rattle-box.

Anna Nagy, Spokesperson for the Hungarian Government’s gave a speech on the past six months and the events of the Danube Party, which was followed by Mama Dunaby the Belgrade composer Dragana Jovanovic, a piece, which premiered in Budapest by Serbian, German and Hungarian choirs, while the concept was realised by the German Susanna Maier.

The Hungarian singers participating included soprano Klára Korzenszky and the famous men’s choir Saint Ephraim. The concert was supported by the European Danube Academy and the Ministry of Culture of Baden-Wuerttemberg. The piece consisting of several movements, accompanied by a multilingual narration emphasized the significance of the Danube and its importance for the different nations. An outstanding role was given to the ancient rites, and the piece was characterized by the free combination of styles: mainly jazz and film music mixed with folk tones.

After the technical switch and the successful display of the fire jugglers accompanied by classical music, the events in Újbuda ended with a concert of the Újbuda Danubia Orchestra, conducted by Domonkos Héja. Each number fit perfectly to the topic of Danube which was highlighted by the EU presidency, and they could be connected to the most significant events of the days prior to the Danube Party as well as the past six months.

The first piece was Johann Strauss, Jr.’s The Blue Danube Waltz, followed by Mendelssohn’s suite A Midsummer Night’s Dream reminding us of the first night of the series of events. Notturno, the night theme of Mendelssohn’s music was made special by the procession of the boats floodlit with torches. The last piece was Franz Liszt’s symphonic poem Les Préludes, which ended with the reappearance of the fire jugglers who provided an enthralling sight.

A concert which was bound to attract a massive crowd was the T-Com telecommunication company’s annually organized Connection Concert, a free open-air event, this Saturday featuring pop superstar Kesha. The American superstar is special for us, as her grandparents were born in Szentes, Hungary.

On Sunday there were two memorable Liszt concerts. They were not part of the series of Danube Party, but they are still worth to be mentioned. The Ventoscala Symphony Orchestra and Schola Cantorum Budapestiensis (choirmaster: György Philip) performed Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Coronation Mass in the Inner City Parish Church. The special feature of the mass is that it was performed in an environment corresponding to its original liturgical use, incorporated into the Tridentine mass customary in Liszt’s time. It is no exaggeration to say that the piece composed for Hungarian king Franz Joseph I in 1867 is a crown of Liszt’s masses of the Musica Sacra cycle.

The other Liszt concert took place a little farther from the Danube, in Saint Imre Church. The oratorio Saint Sanislaus conducted by Kálmán Strausz is a masterpiece from Liszt’s late period and has never been presented in Hungary, so this was the Hungarian (maybe the European) premiere. To emphasize how European Liszt was, the premiere of St. Stanislaus was planned at the end of the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and before the beginning of the Polish EU Presidency.

The oratorio about the patron saint of Poland, composed by the Hungarian and European Liszt was performed at the eve of the Polish EU presidency in order to salute this way the oeuvre of Ferenc Liszt, Poland and the idea of pan-Europeanism. Although the composition was left incomplete, it is still monumental, and the Honvéd Male Choir, the Danubia Orchestra of Óbuda and the Budapest Studio Female Choir offered us a memorable night. To commemorate the bicentenary of Ferenc Liszt’s birth, the Honvéd Male Choir recorded the incomplete St. Stanislaus oratorio, and plans to perform it in the major cities of Hungary (such as Budapest, Pécs, and Debrecen).

The ‘brightness of Budapest’ was provided by the final of Paint Up!, a competition unique in the world, organised by Visualpower, offering spectacular sights outside the headquarters of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, accompanied by music. The Hungarian motives were a huge success, proving that we can be rightly proud of our culture and heritage, as well as the EU presidency."

Source: eu2011.hu


30.06.2011




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