Internationally renowned Kelemen Quartet to perform in Ottawa!

PHOTO: Ora Hasenfratz

The Embassy of Hungary in Canada is hosting a concert to mark the anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian uprising against the Soviet-backed communist regime and the subsequent invasion of the country by the Soviet Red Army under the Premiership of Nikita Kruschev.

The rebellion led by communist-turned-reformer Imre Nagy played out over the course of only two weeks, but it shook the world and caused 200,000 Hungarians to flee their homeland, many came to Canada. Up to 3000 Hungarians would also die in the revolution of 1956, 13,000 more would be injured, hundreds including, including Nagy, would be executed, and tens of thousands more sent to repressive communist-run prisons.

Today in Hungary, October 23rd, the day that the revolt started, is a national holiday. The date also marks the day in 1989 when Hungary declared itself a free republic, no longer under the yoke of communism.

To commemorate this day of national significance, the Embassy of Hungary in Canada has invited the Kelemen Quartet to perform a concert in honour of Dr. Peter Simon, President, and CEO of the Royal Conservatory of Music, at the embassy.

During the event, the Ambassador of Hungary to Canada, Her Excellency Maria Vass-Salzar, will present Dr. Simon with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Hungary. The award is highly prestigious, one of the top orders of decorations that can be handed out to civilian or military personnel by the Hungarian Republic.

The Kelemen Quartet comprises award-winning Hungarian violinists Barnabás Kelemen and his wife Katalin Kokas, who have teamed up with Greek violinist Jonian Ilias Kadesha and British cellist Vashti Mimosa Hunter. The group, founded in Budapest in 2010, received almost immediate critical acclaim, taking home three awards at the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, in 2011. The same year, the quartet won first prize at the Beijing International Music Competition.

Barnabas Kelemen may be from Hungary, but he has professional connections to Canada, including most recently being a member of the jury at the Banff International String Quartet Competition. Ottawa Life Managing editor Dan Donovan had the chance to speak with Kelemen about the upcoming event, you can listen to their conversation here.

The Kelemen Quartet will also be performing a public show on October 24, 2022, at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre. Owned by Carleton University, the venue continues to also serve as a United Church while also providing a space for offering cultural enrichment to the downtown Ottawa area. The centre is located at 290 Lisgar Street, is a beautiful, yet overlooked, landmark in Centertown.

The concert in commemoration of the 1956 Hungarian Uprising also coincides with Ontario’s first-ever Hungarian Heritage month, which continues throughout the month of October.

To register to attend this free special performance click here

For more information about this event or about Hungarian culture in Canada, please email