The incredible Snetberger Music Talent Center in Felsoors, Hungary, has become something of a national treasure in the country. Comprised of a series of studios and apartment buildings, the center is renowned for its work nurturing the talent of outstanding musicians selected predominantly from Roma families in an example of inspiring social design. The institute was founded by the Hungarian jazz guitarist Ferenc Snetberger who established the center back in 2011 with the idea of instructing a group of exceptionally talented musicians from largely underprivileged backgrounds. Situated in the picturesque region of Balaton lake, around 2 hours from Budapest, the institute is made up of a collection of music facilities, performance spaces and dormitories designed to inspire students and to provide essential professional help for their futures.
In an era of economic instability, one of the largest challenges that the country faces is the integration of its Roma community. This group make up between 5-8 percent of the country’s overall population, and community building remains a sensitive and conflict-ridden issue. As a result the school chose its students mainly through auditions held around the country with the help of its well-respected teachers who are also Roma. Snetberger shares this background; raised in the city of Salgotarjan in the northeast of Hungary he was the youngest of a large family. He has said that the reward for this work in education is the inspiration the musicians give him and he recognizes the importance of the center in that work.
The center welcomes projects that work within the idea of integration through music and, last summer, supported the launch of an inspiring new project called Street Studio Hungary. Established by musician Vera Jonas and Brooklyn-based non-profit Found Sound Nation, the Street Studio brought together a collection of musicians who invited the public to participate in making music live in a range of street settings.
The Snetberger institute itself was constructed with funds from various institutions who recognized the importance of establishing such an institution. These included the Hungarian government, the EU, and the Open Society Institute lead by Hungary-born George Soros and the Norwegian Jazz Association.
Images via Helen Morgan