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At Prem Dan

It was as extraordinary an event for the Haydn Baryton Trio Budapest as it was for the audience. No one made a move to leave before the concert was over. Most were not fidgeting or talking during the performance. They were listening. And between each piece, on cues they clapped with enthusiasm.

Balazs Kakuk, the leader of the trio, had written to us a few days earlier to say that he and his family had met Mother Teresa when she visited Budapest 30 years ago and they continue to visit her home near Budapest. It would be their pleasure to perform at one of her homes. So, their first concert in Kolkata was held here, in Prem Dan, on the morning of 14 March.

They began with their namesake – a baryton trio by Haydn. Their special gift to this home came next: an Ave, Maris Stella and Jesu Dulcedo by Prince Nikolas Esterház (the Hungarian prince who was the Barytongamba’s biggest patron). The concert was half an hour long, ending with a Christmas song also by Haydn.

Prem Dan is a Missionaries of Charity home for the dying and destitute. While this sounds morbid, it can also be thought of as a home for the elderly who have nowhere else to go. It is right next to the Park Circus railway station, on an arterial road that connects the centre of the city to the EM Bypass.

The home has over 120 women and twice as many men, most of whom speak only Bengali. Those who were mobile, had been arranged around the musicians – women on one side and men on the other.

The musicians had chosen to perform without microphones. Traffic – city buses, autos and some cars and loud train horns joined in too. It was a very unusual setting for a classical concert on period instruments. But somehow, in that morning, it all came together.

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At the Oxford Mission

On Thursday evening, the Haydn Baryton Trio Budapest gave a demonstration and workshop at the Oxford Mission school in Behala. This is a residential school and a charitable organisation founded over 100 years ago with the purpose of imparting basic education, providing residence and vocational training to its students.

The Oxford Mission school was built to support orphans and destitute children from surrounding villages. Today eighty per cent of the students do come from disadvantaged backgrounds most of them belonging to single-parent homes. The education they receive includes western classical music lessons for strings, brass, woodwind, percussion, guitar and keyboard. One hundred of these music students attended the Haydn Baryton Trio Budapest workshop: It began with an introduction to the instrument, a short concert of 20 minutes (a Haydn Barytontrio, Burgksteiner’s Barytondivertimento in D-major) followed by a demonstration on how the Barytongamba is played. Right at the end, the older cellists (Wilson Mandi & Dipankar Mondal) tried out the Barytongamba under the guidance of Balazs Kakuk.

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The Haydn Baryton Trio Budapest was founded by Balazs Kakuk in 1980 with the intention to revive Joseph Haydn’s almost 200 compositions for baryton – an original instrument of Prince Esterházy Miklós, the Magnificent – in order to perform the pieces in authentic and original instrumentation. The Ensemble plays all Barytontrios from Haydn as well as quintets, octets and the barytondivertimenti from other composers of the Esterházy circle.

Balázs Kakuk, Barytongamba
Sándor József, Viola
András Kaszanyitzky, Violoncello