Béla Bartók Choir and University Orchestra Concludes Concert Tour in Canada, U.S.

Washington, D.C. – The Béla Bartók Choir and University Orchestra of Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest completed its concert tour in Canada and the United States, held between October 21 and November 3, 2005. The tour comprised eight concerts in Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, Oakland, San Francisco, New York, and New Brunswick.

The charitable concert tour was organized by the Hungarian American Coalition with the enthusiastic help of many Hungarian-Canadians and Hungarian-Americans.

The first concert took place October 23 at Toronto’s Hungarian Canadian Cultural Centre, as part of an event commemorating the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. From the proceeds of the concert, the Cultural Centre has donated $1,000 to benefit Transylvanian flood victims. The concert was attended by more than 400 members of the Hungarian Canadian community.

The next day the Choir gave a concert at Vancouver’s Tom Lee Music Hall, with the sponsorship of the Hungarian Cultural Alliance. The Béla Bartók Choir concert was the very first event organized by the newly established Alliance, which plans many other high-quality programs for the local community in Vancouver.

On October 27, the Choir performed in Seattle at the Nordstrom Recital Hall of the renowned Benaroya Hall, with the sponsorship of the Hungarian American Association of Washington, the Seattle-Pécs Sister City Association, and Helen M. Szablya, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Hungary in Seattle. Daniel Petersen, Executive Director of the Seattle Youth Symphony – who served as the main organizer – conducted a radio interview with Maestro Gábor Baross, leader of the Choir, discussing the ensemble and Hungarian contemporary music.

Next, the Choir performed in Oakland, CA, at the Regents Theater of the Holy Names University, with the sponsorship of Eva E. Voisin, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Hungary; Katalin Vörös of the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, University of California, Berkeley; and the Holy Names University. The main organizer of the concert was Anne Laskey of the Kodály Center for Music Education. The concert was attended by Bay Area Hungarians, students of the Holy Names University, and music lovers of the area, who will long remember concertmaster Éva Dúlfalvy’s virtuoso performance of Saint-Saëns’ Introduction et rondo capriccioso (Op. 28.).

In San Francisco the Choir gave two concerts. The first performance took place at the First Unitarian Universalist Church, with the sponsorship of Mr. Géza Kádár, Jr. Esq., and the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco. “This was a great day for the Coalition… and a very special day for the Hungarian Americans of the San Francisco Bay Area who haven’t had an event like this in many many years.” – said Mr. Kádár, a Coalition member from Santa Rosa, CA.

The second performance took place at Knuth Hall of San Francisco State University’s College of Creative Arts, with the sponsorship of San Francisco State University. The Choir was greeted by the vice president of the University. The short, midday concert was mainly attended by university students.

At the end of its concert tour, the Choir performed in New York at St. Peter’s Church at the Citicorp Center, with the sponsorship of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation and the Manhattan Hungarian Network. This unique concert represented the U.S. premier of György Orbán’s Magnificat, with the special performance of two soloists, Ildikó Cserna and Andrea Meláth, who traveled from Hungary to the United States just for this concert. Ágnes Szakály, the eminent dulcimer artist also gave a solo performance. In his welcoming speech, László Hámos, President of the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation, expressed his appreciation to the choir members, who personally contributed to the tour expenses to help make this important cultural event possible. On the 150th anniversary of the birth of Béla Bartók, said Mr. Hámos, the choir’s dedication to presenting the best of contemporary Hungarian music is especially laudable.

In the tour’s final concert, the ensemble performed in New Brunswick, NJ on November 3, at the Kirkpatrick Chapel, with the sponsorship of the Széchenyi István Hungarian School and Kindergarten. The proceeds of the concert benefited the Széchenyi István School. In fact, this performance represented the choir’s second visit to New Brunswick: the first was during their previous U.S. tour in 1997. “We have realized again how beautiful and luxuriant our Hungarian music literature is. It was wonderful to hear all this through the performance of these talented young Hungarians.” – said Zsolt Balla, Director of the Széchenyi István Hungarian School and Kindergarten.

After the concert, Hungarian American Coalition President Maximilian Teleki expressed his appreciation to Maestro Gábor Baross, who founded the choir and orchestra in 1948 and is still going strong as its Director and Conductor. “Maestro Baross is indeed a master at distilling the most valuable elements of the famous Hungarian choral tradition, while helping to popularize the best of contemporary Hungarian music,” said Mr. Teleki. “We are proud to bring the Béla Bartók Choir and orchestra to music lovers throughout the North American continent.

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