From the Office in Budapest

Dear members and friends of the IKS,

In August 2015, during the International Kodály Symposium of Edinburgh I handed the office of President of the IKS to James Cuskelly. Still, as the Immediate Past President, I had many opportunities to represent the IKS Board around the world. Please let me share with you my memories of some interesting events of 2016. In May 2016, I participated in the 3rd Conference of the “Friends of Hungary Foundation” in Budapest. I had the possibility of speaking about the IKS and presenting our concepts to Hungarian officials, including Dr. János Áder, President of the Republic of Hungary, as well as to a vast international public. The interest of the people was exciting. They were eager to know what happened in Hungary during and after Kodály’s time, as well as the status of the international impact of Kodály’s philosophy today.

In July 2016, I had the pleasure of participating in the 2nd International Congress: “Music for Everybody and for Everything”, organised by the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, and “Kodály Mexico” the newly formed Kodály Society of that country. Professor Hilda Morán Quiroz, president of Kodály Mexico and the main organizer of the congress, has been an active IKS member for many years. The congress was a fantastic event where sociologists, musicians and music educators, as well as lawyers, psychologists, therapists, philosophers, writers, historians, architects and economists met and discussed Music and the building of a community on the basis of equality, trust, respect, inclusion and democracy, which they regard as the social implications of Kodály’s proposal. There were 128 participants, of whom 19 were professors and 39 were students at the University of Guadalajara. One of the most important characteristics of this congress, so different from the usual practice in our “world”, was that after every four “lectures” from the invited professors, there was a two hours long interaction with the public. It was so refreshing for all of us to be immersed in the problems as well as the wisdom of colleagues from all over Mexico!

Before and during the congress courses and laboratories were offered to the participants. The invited professors were Carlos Miró (Chile), Erzsébet Gaál (Hungary – USA), Felipe Ysunza (Mexico), Gustavo Varela (Argentina), Joan Litman (USA) and Michalis Patseas (Greece). At the beginning of August 2016, I had the honor of being the Artistic Director of the 7th International “Bridge of Music” Festival, in the Vigadó Concert Hall, Budapest. We enjoyed the performances of several good choirs, ensembles and young musicians mostly from Hungary and China. Once again, I capitalized on the opportunity to present our Concept to a broader public. The power of Kodály’s music and some good Hungarian examples made it easier for me. Together with the organizers, we plan in future to involve even more countries in this project. We also plan to dedicate the next festival to Kodály, thereby joining in the celebration of the Kodály year.

At the end of August 2016, together with IKS Vice President, Dr. Sandra Mathias, we served as the two International Judges for the inaugural Sanya International Choir Festival, held in Sanya City, Hainan Island, China. Most of the festival was held at Sanya University, a private university of 30,000 students. Concerts were held each evening featuring the Hunan Symphony Orchestra, the Hainan Red Cotton Choir, the Taipei Philharmonic Citizens Choir, the Kunming Red Leaves Youth Choir, as well as the Hainan Normal University ‘Sound of Li’ Choir. Thirty-five choirs from many provinces of China as well as Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and The Philippines took part in the Festival. One day was dedicated to “Senior Choirs” (having a majority of members over the age of 60) and two days to “Mixed Choirs” (including four university choirs and one middle school choir). Most of the choirs sang Chinese choral art music as well as arrangements of Chinese folk or popular songs. Some choirs were at a high level, many had a decent vocal tone, but all were quite acceptable. Most of the conductors and the piano accompanists were very well trained. Sincere congratulations to Guo Zhi Zhang, President of the World Chinese Choral Arts Federation as well as He Jiang, Chairperson of the Festival, for organising this great event.

Last but not least, in October 2016, together with IKS Vice President, Dr. László Norbert Nemes, we represented the IKS Board at the International Alumni Meeting in Budapest. Together with us we had more IKS members (all of them alumni of the Kodály Institute of Kecskemét): Philip Tacka (USA), Cristina Brito da Cruz (Portugal), Bernie Sherlock (Ireland) and Micheál Houlahan (Ireland-USA). The last two of them gave lengthy reports of the impact that the Kodály Concept and studying in Hungary had in their lives. During the Meeting, I had the opportunity to talk about the IKS with Zoltán Balog, the Hungarian Minister for Human Resources, as well as with officials of the Cultural Department of the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Please, permit me to close this short report with some remarks: It is very essential for all of us to seek any possibility to point out the importance of music education and even more the superiority of the Kodály Concept to state officials and to opinion-makers and not just to our narrow music audiences. Do not forget how Kodály managed to draw the attention of the international community to the results of the New Hungarian Music Education Concept thirty-five years ago. Let us make it our (happy) duty to continue this task, always using the best educational examples and music of the highest quality.

Michalis Patseas
Immediate Past President