Gustav Mahler's monumental Symphony No. 8 is performed by the ensembles and soloists of the Hungarian State Opera joined by artists of Veszprém and the Bakony–Balation Region at the Veszprém Factory'ard CulturePark on 7 July 2023. The special production is a major classical music event of the Veszprém–Balaton 2023 European Capital of Culture project.
An orchestra of nearly 100 musicians, a chorus of more than 150 members and a children's chorus of 50, as well as 8 soloists take part in the Veszprém performance of Mahler's Symphony No. 8 (Symphony of a Thousand). The suggestive subtitle of the piece comes from Emil Gutmann, who organized the premiere in Munich in 1910, where he assembled a grandiose ensemble of 1030 artists to perform the captivating work. Performances of the piece have been considered special musical events ever since, even when it is performed by smaller ensembles. The performance in Veszprém will be made unforgettable by the joint performance of hundreds of musicians.
Mahler's piece, despite its huge scale, is basically a two-movement work inspired by chamber music, the performance apparatus of which the author swelled to a gigantic size in order to evoke the entire universe in his music. The first movement of the work, which exudes sincere serenity, is the medieval Latin hymn beginning with Veni, Creator Spiritus, which glorifies the creative spirit, and is typically sung at Pentecost, while the second movement is the closing scene of Goethe's Faust. The two movements glorify the fulfillment of heavenly happiness and the redemptive power of love with a sublime atmosphere. The work, which combines a symphony with various vocal works – song cycle, motet, cantata, oratorio – is not coincidentally associated with a similarly grandiose work, Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven.
In recent years, the ensembles of the Hungarian State Opera have gained a lot of experience in performing Symphony of Thousands. Since 2020 they have performed it every year on 1 October, on the occasion of World Music Day, with the participation of different conductors and soloists. It will not be any different at the nearly one and a half hour concert taking place at Veszprém Factory'ard CulturePark on 7 July 2023. The soloists are all connected to Veszprém and the surrounding region in some way: Mária Farkasréti and Gyula Nagy, who is very active in the international opera scene, were not only born in Veszprém, but musically they also started their studies at the Antal Csermák Music School. András Palerdi has lived in Vászoly since childhood. They are joined by such excellent singers as Csilla Boross, who graduated from the Veszprém Conservatory, Andrea Brassói-Jőrös, Andrea Szántó, Zita Szemere and István Horváth. The Hungarian State Opera Chorus is also supplemented by artists from the choirs of Veszprém and the Bakony–Balaton region, thereby creating a collaboration that makes the production that belongs to the people living here. The ensemble of more than 300 artists is conducted by Gergely Madaras, who is an outstandingly talented conductor of his generation and, despite his young age, has already had a prestigious international career for more than a decade, as a result of which in 2019, he was the youngest and first Hungarian in the history of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Liège to be chosen as its music director.
At the press conference, Szilveszter Ókovács, general director of the Hungarian State Opera (also born in Veszprém), expressed his wish for the performance of one of the cornerstones of European culture to be as uplifting for the audience of his hometown as it is for him and for the institution's artists whenever they can perform it.
Mária Farkasréti recalled that this will be the first time in her life that she can perform at an event in her hometown that is not organized under the auspices of the Antal Csermák Music School or in connection with teacher Károly Ötvös. "I am a bit emotional, because although I moved from Veszprém a long time ago, many of my relatives still live there. I look forward to the event with happy anticipation."