Night of Choirs

Saturday was a big day for music in Budapest. A church that I’ve attended several times hosted a choir performance in a couple of main squares around their building as an opportunity to get to know their new neighborhood. A large annual music festival, Ez Az A Nap took place in a sport arena in the city, gathering a couple thousand people to worship together. Surely there were other performances at churches and auditoriums around the city.

I, however, attended a different kind of musical event – with very little prior knowledge about what I was getting myself into – but I had a connection and a VIP wristband, so there I went. When my friend Karol and I first arrived, I thought, “Oh, this is so cute.” Groups performing in squares and courtyards with fun decorations and signs to point you to the next venue. I quickly realized I had underestimated what a big production this would be. 20 venues, 50 choirs, and altogether around “500 voices united in song.”

The idea came from some members of one of the participating choirs four years ago – with a goal to popularize community singing – and it apparently resonated with many people as around 2,500 people gathered together last night to take part.

Walking from one fantastic performance to the next, I had an opportunity to chat with a friend (who happened to be the main organizer of the event) and she told me more about the thought behind it. She talked about how Hungary is a signing nation – in the shower or in the car – and how it’s a shame that there isn’t more public singing, even on the tram. She talked about vulnerability and the honor it is to stand next to someone with an open heart, allowing them to hear you sing and in return celebrating the voice of the person next to you as well.

I was reflecting on her comments as I sang with hundreds of other people in a shared church service in the park this morning and realized that, without this opportunity to weekly sing in community with others there would be a big hole in my life. I felt so thankful for that outlet and thankful that the creators of this event are offering this opportunity for those who don’t have that privilege to take part in the joy of singing together, even for a night.

All who remained until the 11pm finish gathered together in one area and sang a special song written just for this evening. Here is a loose translation of this hauntingly beautiful song:

The sun has set.
The silence has come.
A haunting breeze amidst the clouds,
The moonlight treads contemplatively;
The silence has come.
A haunting breeze amidst the clouds,
The moonlight treads contemplatively,
As if over the ruins of fantasy, fantasy;
As if over the ruins of fantasy, contemplatively.

(Csemiczky Miklós – rough, unchecked translation by me for informational purposes – original text found here.)

— Posted by Cassidy (photo: Kovács Márton)

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