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American Friends of the BFO host two U.S. events

Newly-Established American Friends of the Budapest Festival Orchestra Celebrates Acclaimed Ensemble’s U.S. Tour (January 23-31) and Silver Anniversary Season with Special Events in New York and West Palm Beach

BFO Tour Includes January 24 Performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall

As conductor Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra prepare to embark on a six-city U.S. tour (January 23-31), a highlight of the celebrated ensemble’s 25th-anniversary season, the newly-established American Friends of the Budapest Festival Orchestra is gearing up for two special events that will take place in New York City and West Palm Beach, Florida.

Following a performance by the orchestra in New Brunswick, New Jersey on January 23, the Budapest Festival Orchestra returns to New York’s Carnegie Hall for a concert on Saturday, January 24 that is the opening event of Carnegie Hall’s participation in the Hungarian Ministry of Culture’s Hungarian Culture Year (2009). Before the Carnegie concert, the American Friends of the Budapest Festival Orchestra are hosting a fundraising dinner at the Bistro Chat Noir, 22 East 66th Street. Among those attending are Daisy Soros, who chairs the Board of the American Friends of the BFO, her husband Paul Soros and his brother, George Soros, Kati Marton, Richard Holbrooke, and John Whitehead.

Soon after, Fischer and the BFO head to Florida, where they will give concerts in West Palm Beach (Jan 27), Miami (Jan 28), Sarasota (Jan 30), and Orlando (Jan 31). On January 26, Suzanne von Liebig will host an elegant reception in her West Palm Beach home that will be attended by prominent members of Florida society. Among the guests will be iconic stylemaker Iris Apfel, as well as popular singer Vic Damone and his wife Rena Rowan Damone, co-founder of Jones New York. Mrs. von Liebig is a member of the Board of the American Friends of the BFO and has long been a devoted friend and generous supporter of the orchestra. She is also the patron of the Budapest Mahlerfest, a very successful annual festival in Budapest, Hungary, which members of the American Board plan to visit next September.

The sensational success story of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, which was founded by Iván Fischer in 1983, has drawn a lot of attention around the world, and increasingly in the United States, where the orchestra has toured repeatedly to enthusiastic acclaim. An international survey of music critics, assembled by the U.K.-based Gramophone – the world’s leading classical music magazine – recently named this young orchestra one of the best ten in the world.

Earlier this season, a prestigious new Board, chaired by Daisy Soros, and operating as the Friends of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, was formed in America to provide and solicit new support for the orchestra’s efforts. The organization includes several well-known donors to the arts in America and the first Board meeting took place on October 31, 2008. The Board plans to meet twice a year and provides the following mission statement: “Recognizing the outstanding quality and the exceptional artistic, educational, and cultural value of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, its American Friends offer financial assistance for the continuation of the orchestra’s important work. In particular, it is the goal of the Friends to help and ensure concert tours of the Budapest Festival Orchestra in the U.S. and to improve the orchestra’s financial stability in order to keep its talents and to provide them with fine musical instruments.”

Additional information about the orchestra and U.S. tour dates and programs follow.

Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra:

Iván Fischer and the BFO are one of the great success stories of the orchestral world. From the beginning, Fischer’s vision was to transform musical life in his native country and to make the new orchestra a star on the international stage. Working with the crème-de-la-crème of his country’s musicians, Fischer’s intensive rehearsal methods and his emphasis on chamber music playing are just two key elements that have kept the orchestra focused on the art of interpretation and the singular joy of music-making. Innovative programming, “Cocoa Concerts” for children, and other audience development initiatives have shown Fischer to be a uniquely inspired – and inspiring – music director. The result is an orchestra that is enormously popular at home, hugely successful on disc (last year, their traversal of Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 2 won the Editor’s Choice Gramophone Award), and very much in demand around the world. Tim Ashley summed it up succinctly in London’s Guardian: “In 1983, when he was in his early 30s, Fischer decided to found his own orchestra and run it on very different lines from anything that had gone before. More than two decades later, the Budapest Festival Orchestra has become one of the world’s great ensembles, playing to packed houses at home and astounding audiences abroad with its brilliance and intensity.”

Iván Fischer, on the program for the BFO’s U.S. tour:

“In this program we explore how classical music touches on Gypsy music. It was first Liszt and then Brahms who fell in love with the performing style of the Gypsies. There is no such thing as ‘Gypsy’ music. Gypsy musicians play anything that you want to hear. But they have a style, featuring richly ornamented, improvised, highly emotional and virtuoso playing that is unparalleled. Great artists like Yehudi Menuhin had the highest respect for Gypsy violinists. Brahms incorporated this performing style in his compositions, especially the Hungarian Dances, and sometimes in his symphonic and chamber works. For these concerts in the U.S. we invited three special guests: the Gypsy violinist József Lendvay and his son – who has the same name – as well as cimbalom virtuoso Oszkár Ökrös. Although they are folk musicians, on this special occasion they will perform together with the Budapest Festival Orchestra.”

Budapest Festival Orchestra: Six-city U.S. tour:

Jan 23 New Brunswick, NJ
Jan 24 Carnegie Hall, NYC
Jan 27 West Palm Beach, FL
Jan 28 Miami, FL
Jan 30 Sarasota, FL
Jan 31 Orlando, FL

The tour program comprises Gypsy and Gypsy-inspired music, including violin/cimbalom improvisations, Brahms’s Hungarian Dances and Symphony No. 1, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 3, and Sarasate’s Zigeunerweisen.

For more information, visit the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s web site at

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– January 22, 2009

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