What is behind the many windows of the advent calendar?

By the time of the first of December, all Advent calendars have disappeared from the shops already that I’ve been to. If that happened to you as well, I tell you: don’t feel sad! Chocolate is nice, but there are other alternative ways to get to endorphins. How about a witty conversation? A Christmas short film? Joyful music with the widest range of instruments and singers? Or maybe tales, stories, literature?

This all, and even more things are waiting for you in the online advent calendar of the Müpa, which is a great ending to a not so great year. 2020 was a year of online solutions for arts anyway, so now here’s the chance to rewatch a previous favourite in the Müpa Home series, or to discover something new. Here’s a little teaser, some of the windows that have been open already – and who knows what else the remaining days bring!

Window to the kitchen: Viktor Segal and Erika Náray

Christmas is a good time to treat us well with food, and even if some of us missed the chocolate, there’s still the chance for Christmas cookies and biscuits. On the 12th of December, Müpa surprised Hungarian followers a lot, because a chef was invited to the programme ‘Friends of Jazz’, hosted by singer-actress Erika Náray. Viktor Segal tells a lot about how he started his career in the early ‘80s as a globetrotter and what adventures he had abroad and in Hungary. The podcast includes his experiences of cooking competitions, five-star hotels, street food canteens, and he also reveals what fruit he missed the most when he was far from Hungary, and what Hungarian foods are the most known abroad.

Window to the Scandinavian mountains: Peer Gynt with music, narrator and dance

5th December brings us away from the depressing, dark, cold-muddy Hungarian month to the sparkling, ever-white mountains. Although it was the playwright Henrik Ibsen himself who commissioned Edvard Grieg to write musical accompaniment to the story of Peer Gynt, the music rather became famous on its own, and the play usually only included the textual parts. But in the early 2000s, the MDR Symphony Orchestra of Leipzig came up with their almost complete version of the Grieg pieces to tell the adventures of Peer Gynt, embodied by dancers and explained by a narrator (in the current Hungarian version actor Péter Huszti). Three art forms in one piece? We believe it when we see it… (And we see it!)

Window to a charming instrument: Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn

Have you ever heard a Hungarian folk song on banjo? The US-American musician married couple plays that among other things on the concert video that we can find on the 11th day in the calendar. Performing in Hungary, they couldn’t leave out the pieces inspired by Bartók’s Mikrokosmos, also because Béla Fleck got his first name after the great composer.

“A child can play this on the piano, but for the banjo, you need two adults!”

– Fleck joked at the concert, recorded in 2015. The couple has been married for eleven years already, and their peers playfully called their union “a strategic alliance”, with their future child being the “Holy Banjo Emperor”. By the way, they really had a son in 2013 – maybe we can welcome him soon, too, performing with his parents?

Window to Christmas: the girl and the piano

Being an advent collection, Müpa has a lot of Christmas-themed surprises here, like the Spotify lists of Hungarian and international Christmas music that cannot be finished within a day, maybe not even a week. And on the day of St Nicholas, they dedicated the window to the Müpa Christmas short film, depicting the special symbiosis, the two-sided constant development and taming between musician and instrument. The soothing colors, the feasty story and music might be powerful enough to melt the hardest heart these days, not to mention the slogan at the end that fits the year 2020 perfectly:

“Art is uplifting. A promise that no one will miss out this Christmas.”

Sure, no advent without art, no Christmas without art. Let us open the rest of the windows to prepare for the festive days – and the new year with hopefully better experiences.