About the Festival

Con spirito

„Bis orat qui bene cantat” – he who sings well praises twice, said St. Augustine of Hippo. This insight goes for everyone who takes part in a musical event, either as a performer or a member of the audience. Number four – the number of seasons, evangelists and points of the compass – marks the spirit of Con spirito Church Music Festival since four Hungarian historical Church along with their liturgies are introduced to the public every year, around the season of Pentecost. In 2015 several concerts, representing the churches of Eastern Christianity, were held in the Eastern part of the country while in 2016 the festival, focused on the power of human voice, was hosted by city of Pécs. That year, gems of Roman Catholic church music were performed by excellent artist from Hungary and abroad. In 2017 – the 500th anniversary of Protestant Reformation – the festival will move to Debrecen. Next year Lutheran Church – that gave as brilliant musicians to the world as Johann Sebastian Bach – will stand in the focus of the festival. Beyond the usual music events the festival programme takes as a mission to provide spiritual – „con spirito” – experience both for believers and atheists, professional musicians and music enthusiasts.



Five centuries after 1517, it is clearly seen that Protestant Reformation, the tenets of Luther and Calvin had a decisive effect not only on teology and religious practice of Christian churches but on culture as a whole. It is a historical fact that due to Bible translations the development of literary language of European nations was largely influenced by the Protestant movement. Vocal church music had developed the same way. The late Medieval and Renaissance music culture, based on the genres of Latin mass and motet, created an integrated language of polyphonic music of different European regions. Radical changes had been initiated by the new Christian Churches: Lutheran chorals and Calvinist psalms rapidly spread throughout the newly converted territories and the polyphonic version of common songs generated new musical dialects. Every languages have its typical stress, rhythm and intonation, giving unique characters for the profan vocal pieces, madrigals in German, French, Italian or English language, as early as the beginning of the Renaissance era. Thank to the flourish motet culture in vernacular languages, the vocal church music of different nations developed in diverse directions and gained special  characteristics.

After the emergence of the new Churches, church music – just as it is written in the story of Pentecost – „began to speak with other languages”. During the last five centuries, the results of this changes contributed to a great extent to the development of European music culture. For Hungarians it is a particular pleasure that Hungarian composers in the 20th century – including Zoltán Kodály and Zoltán Gárdonyi – also enriched the music heritage of the continent with their works. The recent series of events provides a unique selection of five-century old Protestant church music. 

János Arany