From 17 to 19 November 2017, the Embassy of Hungary, the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest, the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and the National Choirs of the Netherlands celebrated the 135th birth anniversary of Zoltán Kodály in The Hague with the Zoltán Kodály Festival consisting of a lectures, masterclasses and concerts.
Zoltán Kodály (1882 - 1967) was a Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, music educator and linguist. He is most known as the creator of the Kodály Concept of Musical Education, a collaborative approach to music education that combines body movements, singing and ear training exercises. This internationally recognized method forms the basis for music education in Hungary and plays an important role in the training of professional musicians worldwide. In 2016, Kodály´s method of safeguarding traditional folk music was inscribed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. UNESCO therefore declared 2017 as the Zoltán Kodály Anniversary Year.
The Zoltán Kodály Festival kicked-off with a comprehensive masterclass weekend at the Royal Conservatoire, organised in the framework of the 1-year Master’s Degree ‘Muziek als Vak’. For the masterclasses, which focused on the Kodály Concept of Musical Education, a delegation of professors of the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music was flown in. These included pianist Anikó Novák, László Nemes and Katalin Körtvesi. A unique addition to these experts was Geza Szilvay, who travelled from Helsinki to give classes on his Colourstring concept, inspired by Kodály’s legacy. All Kodály experts, including those of the Royal Conservatoire, taught music teachers and musicians who are working in the Netherlands.
On Friday evening 17 November, conductor and Kodály Institute Director László Nemes gave a lecture in the Peace Palace in The Hague on why Kodály´s lifework has been inscribed as UNESCO heritage. The evening was introduced by Peace Palace Library Director Jeroen Vervliet and included a contribution by Vincent Wintermans of the UNESCO office in The Hague. Violist Joe Puglia and cellist Sietse-Jan Weijenberg of the Royal Conservatoire completed the program by performing the Kodály Duo for violin and cello Op. 7.
On Saturday evening 18 November, the festival continued with a grand anniversary concert in the Kloosterkerk in The Hague. After Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Hungary Krisztina Varga had opened the concert, Irene Verburg (soprano) sang several solo pieces, guided on piano by Anikó Novák. The Netherlands Mixed Youth Choir and the Netherlands Female Youth Choir performed Kodály pieces in excellent Hungarian such as Esti Dal and the Laudes Organi, under the direction of Wilma ten Wolde and László Nemes. Laudes Organi was guided on organ by András Gábor Virágh. Virágh was part of the delegation coming from the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music. The concert was attended by over 300 guests.
The Zoltán Kodály Festival was concluded with the Children’s Choir Day in the Royal Conservatoire on Sunday 19 November. The Children’s Choir Day was opened by Head of Music Theory at the Royal Conservatoire, Suzanne Konings and Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Hungary, Krisztina Varga. Gea Plantinga of the National Choirs of the Netherland welcomed the 120 children of the four participating choirs on stage. The children choirs, of which the conductors are all inspired by Kodály included; Koorschool Viva la Musica from Drenthe, directed by Ceciel van der Zee, Koorschool Katalin Szabó from Gelderland, Kathedrale Koorschool Utrecht, directed by Daniël Salbert and Margareth Iping and finally, the National Children’s Choirs directed by Wilma ten Wolde. Each choir sang up to four pieces individually, after which all choirs sang together in a grand finale, directed by László Nemes. The concert was attended by over 200 guests.
Prior to the Zoltán Kodály Festival, the Embassy of Hungary’s filmmaker Csaba Bogádi filmed a beautiful trailer, including contributions from all the festival partners. A few weeks before the festival, he also directed a great Kodály flashmob with the Netherlands Female Youth Choir at the Utrecht Central train station, which has been watched over twelve thousand time on Facebook.
All videos of the Zoltán Kodály Festival may be watched on the YouTube channel of the Embassy of Hungary.