California choir performs at Budapest’s Matthias Church

Each year we spend a couple of weeks in Hungary. Generally we go in May to beat the heavy tourist crowds and the unbearable heat of the summer in the city. Just before we left, a friend called and told us that he was coming to Hungary to sing with his choir. Since we would be in Budapest he invited us to the performance.

On June 25th we lined up at the side doors of the ancient Matthias Church, and to my surprise the huge church filled up. Almost 400 people came to hear the Oakland Symphony Chorus. Those of you who don’t know, the city of Oakland is in California, close to San Francisco; the two cities are connected with the famous and always crowded Bay Bridge. I was surprised to see how many Hungarians came out to hear this unknown American choir from the opposite side of the globe.

Oakland Symphony Chorus performs at Matthias Church.

Oakland Symphony Chorus performs at Matthias Church.

The choir was established in 1958, it has 120 members and not all could come to the trip. It is a community choir. They regularly hold educational workshops to raise appreciation and understanding of choral music, and of course they provide an opportunity for people who love to sing to participate.

It was a special evening. They sang Mozart’s Requiem with soprano Judith Halász, alto Verena Gunz , tenor Gernot Heinrich and bass Till von Orlowsky – all from Austria. The grandeur of the building, the acoustics of the space, and the smart lighting of the Church – all contributed to the experience. I had not seen the restored Matthias Church before, and must say the craftsmen did a fabulous job.

Lynne Morrow has been the Director of the Chorus for almost a decade. She wore a sparkling golden jacket for the occasion and conducted her choir and the Duna Symphony Orchestra confidently, with a firm grip on Mozart’s masterpiece. The choir sounded great despite the jet lag of their 15-hour flight and the long rehearsal before the concert.

Chorus Director Lynne Morrow (in gold jacket) posing with a fan after the concert.

Chorus Director Lynne Morrow (in gold jacket) posing with a fan after the concert.

The sun set during the performance and the colors of the stained glass windows grew deeper. The audience knew the Requiem well; they were clearly enjoying Mozart’s music. They delivered a long-standing ovation.

We spent a truly memorable evening listening to our hometown choir in Budapest.

Specials thanks for the superb photos by Jim Ringland. For more of his photos of the Oakland Symphony Chorus European Tour 2015 please click here.

György Lázár


  1. I can’t even recall the size of the Matthias Church. I always remember that as relatively small church with long narrow main aisle but with great acoustic and wonderful stained glasses.
    Now you see, you have to go to Budapest once you want to hear the Oakland Symphony Chorus 🙂

  2. As a member of the bass section in the chorus, it was exciting and scary to be singing the Requiem in the birthplaces of classical music. We were gratified and overwhelmed by the appreciation of the audiences in Budapest, Vienna and Prague. The trip has fulfilled a long time dream of mine, and I still tingle every time I think about it.

  3. I am delighted and honored that you chose to use two of my pictures in your post. I am an amateur photographer — a family member with the Chorus — and I try to make sharing of my photos easy. But some sort of attribution would be welcome. Since I’ve adopted the Creative Commons approach, the recommended wording (in small type) by each picture is
    “Photo by Jim Ringland, licensed under CC BY-NC 4”, where the word “Photo” links to the original source — and for these two — and “CC BY-NC 4” links to Creative Commons at

    Once again, thank you for finding my photos worthy of be reposted. I was moved when seeing the Chorus singing in the beautiful Matthias Church. I very glad you enjoyed the event as much as I did.

  4. Avatar György Lázár says:

    Dear Jim,

    We added a thank you note in the last paragraph and also a link to your site.

    Thanks again!

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