The Kecskemét Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1966 by musicians and music teachers from Kecskemét and the surrounding area, on the initiative of conductor Lajos Nemesszeghy and oboe teacher János Lukács, orchestra secretary. As the only symphonic ensemble in Bács-Kiskun County, the orchestra plays an important role in the cultural life of Kecskemét and the region, as well as in nurturing Kodály’s musical traditions. The ensemble is a regular and popular participant of the festivals and events of the city, and distinguished performer of the symphonic works of Zoltán Kodály.
Several internationally renowned conductors have already worked with the orchestra, including Ken Ichiro Kobayashi, Ádám Medveczky, Mátyás Antal, Péter Erdei, Tamás Vásáry, as well as world-class soloists, such as Annie Fischer, Andrea Rost, Viktória Vizin, Erika Miklósa, Györy Pauk, Sergei Nakariakov, Balázs Fülei, Gergely Bogányi, Denis Matsuev and Zoltán Kocsis. The Hungarian National Choir and the Kodály Choir of Debrecen are regular partners of the ensemble. The orchestra works in close collaboration with the Kodály Institute of the Liszt Ferenc University of Music.
In addition to classical, symphonic and opera repertoire, the orchestra is successful in many other genres. It has given several concerts with the Csík Band, and performed with Adrien Szekeres, Katica Illényi, the Sárik Jazz Trio, the animated film artist Ferenc Cakó, as well as the Kecskemét City Ballet and the Kecskemét Folk Dance Ensemble. The orchestra’s annual film music concert held at the Hírös Festival attracts thousands of audiences to the main square of Kecskemét.
The Kecskemét Symphony Orchestra places great emphasis on nurturing musical talent of the young generation and promoting classical music for new audiences. The orchestra frequently performs with the outstandingly talented instrumental students of the Kodály School, providing an important boost in their careers. Launched in 2016, the “The Family is Listening” concert series have by now made hundreds of toddlers, parents and grandparents familiar with classical music.
Over the years, fruitful partnerships have developed with many of Kecskemét’s sister cities. In 2006, the ensemble gave a concert in Hyvinkää, Finland, in 2016 in Târgu Mureş, and in 2017, in honour of the Kodály Year, in Galanta. In 2018, the orchestra presented the works of Árpád Solti in Subotica.
The Kecskemét Symphony Orchestra has already released two albums, with Hungarian and Hungarian-related works from Ferenc Farkas, János Vajda and Pál Kadosa and the Concerto by Zoltán Kodály. The orchestra also starred in two films: “Copying Beethoven” and “Kincsem”.
The City of Kecskemét awarded the ensemble the Zoltán Kodály Prize in 2016.