Conductor asks his orchestra to sing at BBC Proms

Conductor asks his orchestra to sing at BBC Proms


norman lebrecht

August 31, 2014

Message from Ivan Fischer:


Dear Friends, on this present tour I asked the Budapest Festival Orchestra to start a new life – to sing regularly. At the end of the Proms and elsewhere on tour we performed Abendständchen by Brahms as an encore only after three days of practice. 

Why? Because people should sing! Mothers should sing to their babies, children should sing in children’s choirs and adults should rediscover this wonderful communication tool. So we should set an example and start to show that it is possible to overcome fears and inhibitions.
If you want to hear our very first attempt, please scroll to the end of the symphony, ca 45 minutes on this link:


ivan fischer


  • David Pickett says:

    Bravo! I agree with Ivan Fischer totally. When players in my ensembles find difficulty in finding how to phrase a melody I ask them to sing it. I have been surprised several times by players who responded that they do not sing because they are instrumentalists. This idea needs discussion… It is, of course, a nonsense: everyone should sing, if only in the shower. Singing is a basic human function!

  • anonymus says:

    Singing is the foundation of all music. Ivan Fischer is so right. If we lose the singing, we lose the music.

  • Neil McGowan says:

    If you cannot hear how the phrase should sound in your head, how can you play it??

    The orchestra in this encore sang very well :))

  • David Murphy says:

    Singing is the essence of all music… however this does remind me of Itzhak Perlman’s hilarious account of a singing lesson, culminating in his teacher’s remark “why can’t you sing like you play the violin?”

  • Mike Schachter says:

    It was certainly a surprise at the Proms, but very welcome!

  • Neil McGowan says:

    I saw a similar encore once in a song recital of Brahms’s Liebeslieder Waltzes. For the encore, the soprano and mezzo took to the keyboard, whilst their two male pianists sang 🙂

  • Paul Pellay says:

    Rings a bell, this. I remember Fischer getting the National Youth Orch. to do the same thing at the Proms back in the late 1990s: after a sizzling Bartok Concerto for Orchestra, he got them to sing Orlando Gibbons’s The Silver Swan as an encore. And very well too, if memory serves.

  • Max Grimm says:

    Conductor Alain Trudel had the National Youth Orchestra of Canada sing two encores at the 2012 Toronto Summer Music Festival. They too did very well, performing:

    – John Dowland’s Madrigal “Come Again” and

    – Pierre Certon’s Madrigal “Je ne l’ose dire”

  • Margaret Green says:

    Dear Iván Fischer, I was there at the Proms., with three other musician friends, to hear yours’ and the Budapest Festival Orchestra’s lovely performances on both Monday and Tuesday nights! We have all been studying together at the Zoltán Kodály Pedagogical Institute in Kecskemét, and we believe in singing! It was wonderful to hear those beautiful voices! Thank you for being determined to make this happen! You inspired us to do the same! At the end of our chamber concert in Framlingham Church on Saturday evening, we sang a 4part Hebrew canon, and our audience eventually joined in – hesitantly, but they joined in – and some of them wept, because singing can reach our hearts in a way that no other activities can! I wrote our new words, and I hope that they will go into the world and help people to grow and change for the better, carried by the beauty of their musical setting! Keep on singing! All good wishes, Margaret Green M.A. Kodály Pedagogy 2014