CYSO Tour: Challenges and Triumphs in Budapest

In her third dispatch from our 2017 Tour of Central Europe, Symphony Orchestra flute player Jennifer Wang writes about the group’s experience in Budapest, the beauty and charm of the city and the challenges that had to be overcome in order to perform their second concert. 

Jenny (center) posed along the river in Budapest with fellow students and chaperones.

Our Budapest leg of the tour was one filled with both beauty and hardship. The beauty: As soon as we caught sight of the buildings and streets, immediately people began pulling out their phones and snapping photos. Budapest was almost unbelievably beautiful, both in the morning and at night, with its many amazing bridges and palaces.
The first proper day was spent preparing for the concert, and the sight of the Béla Bartók Hall filled us with the same sense of wonder as the rest of the city; it was enormous, and every inch of its enormity was beautiful. Before our concert, we were also able to visit the Central Market and wander around the city center. For me, the market was my favorite part of the trip up to that point.
Budapest’s Central Market

The beauty didn’t stop there; after our concert, we had dinner on a boat on the famous Danube River, and the day after our concert, we crossed the river from Buda on an excursion to Szentendre, a small town in Pest that was filled with food, art, and interesting streets that we got to wander around for far too short of a time. Then, we returned to the city for a last period of exploration. By the end of our time in Budapest, most of us did not want to leave.
Dinner on the Danube with Kayla Cabrera, Colin Kim, Duncan Steele, Giacomo Glotzer, and Sebastian Tous

The hardship: our music was stolen.
After our concert in Belgrade, someone took the suitcase containing all of our folders with music. Later, while on the road to Prague, we learned that the music was found thrown away in the alley behind the hall where we performed, but for the time being we had to do without our parts.
As an orchestra, our sheet music is second only to our instruments in order of importance for a performance, so understandably, we were all extremely concerned. The chaperones really pulled through, though, and printed out all the parts from PDFs for everybody before our first rehearsal– 90 parts for the five pieces we’re playing. Go chaperones!
Apparently the thief wasn’t a musician; Our music was dumped in the alley behind Kolarac Hall. Employees of the hall sent us this photo a few days later.

Having to play from new parts, especially having to perform from new parts, was difficult, though. We lost pencil markings, bowings, and even page folds that we had accumulated over our many rehearsals and performances. It was hard to start over again.
Except, we weren’t starting over from scratch. Not really. By that point, we all knew our parts and the pieces so well that many of the markings had become second nature. Even though we were worried, the concert was fabulous, and I even think that the loss of music forced us all to focus and concentrate more than we ever had before.
Rehearsing at Bartók  Hall

Since we were in Hungary, we decided to switch the order of our encore pieces to finish with the Hungarian March by Berlioz. The audience loved it. Even after three encores, they started the unison clap that in Europe means they want an encore; since we had none left, Maestro Tinkham had to actually lead us off the stage to end the concert. That was an incredible experience.
As Maestro Tinkham said during our rehearsal, musicians have to work through difficulties in order to grow. And I think we all grew through this new experience, and all the other ones we’ve had on this trip to Central Europe– whether it’s sweating in the sun while walking the cobblestone streets, getting caught in the rain while wandering a foreign city, paying for public bathrooms, or sitting through the long bus rides and trips through customs. We’ve all grown on this trip, and now, in Prague, I can’t wait to see what comes next!



Jennifer Yu Wang is co-principal flautist for CYSO’s Symphony Orchestra. She has been playing flute for eight years, and with CYSO for five. She studies with Susan Levitin, and her solo achievements include winning the Society of American Musicians and Chicago Flute Club competitions, as well as performing on WFMT Introductions. Jenny is active in chamber music and played in CYSO’s Zephyrus Winds woodwind quintet. This fall, Jenny will be a senior at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.

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