22 days, viewers from all over the globe, world premieres, special dance performances, conductors’ heartfelt words of greeting from some of Europe’s most important concert halls, new compositions and the debut performances of re-formed ensembles, unforgettable moments galore: this is the balance of the first Bartók Spring International Arts Weeks. World stars and the most compelling Hungarian artists took turns on the virtual stage of the event series that Müpa Budapest presented, and the organizers of the Bartók Spring look forward to entertaining audiences live at next year’s issue of the festival.
The Vasarely Etudes, the Ballet Pécs’s dance performance was the last event of the first Bartók Spring International Arts Weeks, which had presented, between 7 and 28 May, such distinguished groups, soloists and companies as Riccardo Chailly and the Filarmonica della Scala, Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, John Eliot Gardiner with the English Baroque Soloists & Monteverdi Choir, the Kelemen Quartet, René Jacobs and the Kammerorchester Basel, the Bagossy Brothers Company, the Hungarian National Philharmonic and the Szeged Contemporary Dance Company, Charlie, the Aurevoir., the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble, the Dresch String Quartet, Odd ID, Mordái, Károly Cserepes, Tárkány Művek, the Bettika Quintet, Cimbaliband, György Vashegyi, the Orfeo Orchestra and the Purcell Choir, Félix Lajkó and the Ballet Company of Győr.
“These have been fantastic weeks because in these extraordinary times the first Bartók Spring has managed to connect the lovers of culture and the artists, wherever they were in the world, from Milan through London to Budapest. It was great to see the immense interest in the performances, from audiences and professionals alike,” says Csaba Káel, the CEO of Müpa Budapest. Named after Béla Bartók and presented on the 140th anniversary of his birth, the festival has proved that invention and creativity can overcome difficulties, as the disadvantages caused by the pandemic could be turned into a benefit as the digital platforms allowed audiences to watch and hear special performances, Káel added. “We thought that, with these being unusual times, it was important to give access to cultural contents to as many people as possible, and we made the complete programme, including Hungarian premieres and international performances, available to everyone, free of charge,” Csaba Káel says.
The cameras of the Bartók Spring International Arts Weeks opened the doors, so to speak, of the Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, the Festival Theatre, the Budapest Music Center and the Liszt Academy, when the concerts were streamed. Also, such legendary European concert halls joined the Bartók Spring as Milan’s La Scala, the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford, the Paul Sacher Hall of the Don Bosco Basel, and the London Royal Albert Hall. Budapest Ritmo brought unusual and exciting spaces to the festival, with concerts held at the Akvárium Klub, the sculptors’ studio in the Epreskert, Twentysix Budapest, Hotel Gellért and the Füvészkert.
Many enjoyed the streamed performances outside Hungary, with viewers joining in from Germany, France, Japan, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Russia and the United States. The social media platforms helped the audience to become active, and people shared their memories of the performers, who they encouraged and “applauded” with gifs and heart-warming messages.
Introduced along with the first Bartók Spring International Arts Weeks was the first issue of the festival’s own Bartók Spring Magazine, published in Hungarian and English, both in print and online form. Some 80,000 visited our official blog, where interesting news and behind-the-scenes secrets were shared, including a special series of videos about the making of the festival’s dance productions. These exclusive films allowed a view into the rehearsal halls, and behind the scenes of, the Ballet Company of Győr, the Szeged Contemporary Dance Company and the Ballet Pécs, the artists of which companies talked about the challenges and most memorable moments of the creative process.
“I am proud of the great amount of feedback we have received: thanks to our artists and the festival staff, we could present an outstanding programme this year in the online space. And we now have high hopes that artists and audiences can meet in person at the venues of next year’s festival,” said Csaba Káel. The 2nd Bartók Spring International Arts Weeks will be held between 1 and 18 April 2022.