Similarly to previous years, this year again Pesti Vigadó is hosting several events of the Budapest Spring Festival. On this occasion, Pesti Vigadó interviewed Head of Budapest Festival and Tourism Center Nonprofit Ltd. and Member of Budapest Spring Festival's Festival Organising Operative Board Teodóra Bán about the international success and achievements of this Budapest-based series of events.
What lies behind the success of the Budapest Spring Festival?
The Festival provides a brief overview of Budapest's high-quality and rich cultural life during the three weeks while the Festival is on between 5th and 22nd April 2019, and it offers an insight into the very best of Hungarian arts. In addition, the Festival also invites soloists, bands and artists from the top levels of the international art market. During the short period of these three weeks while the Festival is on, our mission and responsibility are to do our best to secure Budapest a high and prestigious position in the international cultural landscape. This is what we have been doing during the past five years since Budapest Festival and Tourism Center Nonprofit Ltd. has been organising the programmes of the Festival in cooperation with the Budapest-based Palace of Arts and with the intellectual support of the Hungarian Tourism Agency (formerly known as Hungarian Tourism Ltd.).
What considerations influence the choice of programmes during a Festival season?
Franz Liszt's life as well as his artistic lifework and education-oriented mind-set are prominent values and brands, which prompted the Festival to adopt his lifework and his artistic influence as the main and permanent theme of each year's Budapest Spring Festival events. The annually varying topic of the Festival lies in that the Budapest Spring Festival events always present the cultural products and artists of a selected nation. The 2018 Festival invited musicians, fine artists and composers from the Baltic states, while the theme of the 2019 Festival is Russian music and painting. The organisational work associated with the festival events in ongoing: this job only stops while the festivals, i.e. the Budapest Spring Festival and CAFe Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival, are on. This is so because during the festival period we are even more engaged in doing the organisational work and attending to the needs of the general public.
Do the festivals draw tourists? Do they attract foreigners?
It is beyond doubt that the festivals are attractive for tourists. As organisers, our job is to present the values of Hungarian culture to festival visitors: we offer those visiting the capital city of Budapest contents that help us position the Hungarian capital increasingly higher and higher on international lists of ranking. The Hungarian capital is a liveable metropolis, which guarantees its guests safe and meaningful days of visit. The increase in the number of guest nights and the occupancy rate of hotels both seem to confirm this. Let me take this opportunity and gladly recall that Budapest ranked 8 at the European Best Destinations 2018 vote, thereby leaving Paris, Prague, Vienna, Barcelona and London behind.
What is the prestige of the Budapest Spring Festival like among European cultural festivals?
I can proudly say that the Budapest Spring Festival sets a definitive standard: it can also be called a kind of workshop event. Our international co-operations are of outstanding importance, and it is a prestige to get invited to the Budapest Spring Festival. Any of the internationally renowned stars are glad to participate at Budapest Spring Festival events. Among other things, this also confirms the distinguished status that highly-acclaimed artists associate with the Festival. This is even more so as several productions premiere in the scope of the Budapest Spring Festival and many of these first-night shows continue to be staged even after the Festival is over.
Which were the most memorable programmes for you over the years?
It is almost impossible to choose just a few from among the events staged as part of the ten festivals over the five years in question: the programmes were really rich and professional. If I have to choose some, let me mention the piano evenings by Daniil Trifonov and Denis Macujev, the show performed by Maxim Vengerov and the Polish Chamber Orchestra, the concert entitled Kelemen Kvartett...+, the guest performance by the Saint Petersburg-based Mikhailovsky Theatre's ballet company and the concerts by Jeff Mills and the New York Philharmonic; but if you give me half an hour to think this over, I will certainly remember even many more names.
Which types of Festival programmes are best hosted by Pesti Vigadó in general, and which of the 2019 Budapest Spring Festival events will actually be hosted by Pesti Vigadó?
After Pesti Vigadó reopened in 2014, the Budapest Spring Festival was one of the first partners to contact Pesti Vigadó requesting it to host some programmes; since then the Festival has been partnering with Pesti Vigadó for staging events. Let the events in question range from chamber music to pop music performances, I can honestly say that all genres feel at home in Pesti Vigadó's concert halls. In fact, Pesti Vigadó hosted performances by a wide variety of Hungarian performers including Diotima Quartet, zimbalon player Miklós Lukács, and Kati Kovács in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of her career. We love the complexity of art Pesti Vigadó can offer – the audience can even visit an exhibition before going to a concert staged here –, and we are also delighted to find that the staff is very welcoming and hospitable and we are really thankful for that.
As far as the 2019 Festival is concerned, it offers a masterpiece entitled Requiem by outstanding Italian romantic music composer Leoncavallo: this event is in fact a full orchestra first night in Hungary. The musical piece is performed in cooperation with Concerto Budapest and with Hungarian-born conductor Janos Acs, who is currently living in Italy. Performances of musical pieces by Mussorgsky and Ravel will also be staged in Pesti Vigadó by Alba Regia Symphony Orchestra, featuring great Hungarian pianist Dezső Ránki as soloist. In addition, Pesti Vigadó will also host a show by Franz Liszt Seminar, Sapporo's best competitor Ruka Tokoyama.
Are you personally attached to Pesti Vigadó in any way?
My career has been intertwined with Pesti Vigadó's beautiful building several times so far. As historical events did not spare the over-150-year-old building in the past, Pesti Vigadó has undergone several stages of restoration and reconstruction, which always reflected the actual purpose of using the building. For example, my famous Hungarian rhythmic gymnastics master Sára Berczik gave a solo eurhythmics evening in Pesti Vigadó at the beginning of the 1920, when she was as young as 16. Then, after the 1980 reconstruction of the building, on Pesti Vigadó's opening night, I – following in the footsteps of my rhythmic gymnastics master Sára Berczik and performing in the same building – danced with Hungarian ballet dancer Gábor Keveházi to the live music performed by Sándor Benkó and the Benkó Dixieland Band on the stage located in the Ceremonial Hall. Afterwards, at the request of Pesti Vigadó's contemporary management, I – as a ballet dancer of the Hungarian State Opera – organised a series of ballet performance evenings with the co-operation of young ballet dancers and choreographers. All this literally means that I am personally attached to this building, and today – in my capacity as Festival manager and organiser – I have the honour of expressing my heartfelt thanks to Pesti Vigadó for our successful cooperation.
PROGRAMS BUDAPEST SPRING FESTIVAL 2019
06.04.2019. | 7:30 P.M. | Pesti Vigadó | Ceremonial Hall | Tickets
08.04.2019. | 7:30 P.M. | Pesti Vigadó | Northern Hall | Tickets
DEZSŐ RÁNKI AND THE ALBA REGIA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
10.04.2019. | 7:30 P.M. | Pesti Vigadó | Ceremonial Hall | Tickets
17.04.2019. | 7:30 P.M. | Pesti Vigadó | Ceremonial Hall | Tickets
18.04.2019. | 7:30 P.M. | Pesti Vigadó | Ceremonial Hall | Tickets