Thursday, 4 June 2009

One of our conductors is missing

A family loss

Most people in the world of Conductive Education will already know that among the 228 people on Air France Airbus that came down over the Atlantic in the early hours of Monday morning were conductor Rita Szárvas and the small party travelling with her: András her son; Arnold, the nephew of fellow conductor Orsolya Torma; and József Gallasz, Rita’s boyfriend

Rita, 31, has worked in a number of countries but returned to take up a position at the Pető Institute in Budapest in autumn last year. She was flying back from Rio where she had been for three weeks as part of the Pető Institute’s supervision of a small CE program there,

With her on the flight was her son, András, 7.

Also with her was her boyfriend József Gallasz, 44, a well-known figure in Hungarian alternative music.

They were accompanied by Arnold, 11, nephew of conductor Orsolya Torma who works on the Rio program. He had been to visit his aunt as a reward for his hard work at school in Komló.

A sense of personal loss

Rita’s loss has sent a ripple of shock across the world of Conductive Education, even experienced personally by people who had never known of her till now. Most obviously this has affected conductors trained at the Pető Institute, but conductors trained elsewhere have shared in this, and non-conductors too

I know this through personal communications over the last couple of days, and through my own reaction. I had met Rita several times during her time in England, but only fleetingly, at meetings. As with so many other people in Conductive Education, I knew of her rather than knew her. So why so unsettled by her fate?
  • Maybe it is because Rita serves as a type of so many young conductors today. An independent young woman, travelling the world with her craft, family and partners often with them. The Hungarian TV news report referred to below has mapped her travels as a working conductor (Ottawa, Detroit, Rio, Oslo. Ludlow. Kishinev, Zurich). Many, many conductors will identify with such a map: non-conductors should look upon it, and wonder.
  • Maybe it is because that fate was one that we all dread though most of us manage to push it to the back of our minds and carry on flying: only when we have some personal link to a particular disaster does the whole horror break briefly through.
  • Maybe it is because the very nature of the conductive movement has involved so much air travel around the world. So many millions of air miles and so many thousands of people, families, conductors, all sorts of others over the years. Perhaps it was only a matter of time: there but for the grace of God… This happened to Rita. It could have been anyone.

A family loss

But these are but objective considerations, necessary background perhaps, but not sufficient to understand the quality of the emotional response.

It may be a misnomer to refer to the ‘conductive community’, and anyway the feelings expressed are different from those that might be felt just for a fellow community-member. And they certainly exceed those for someone else identified as part of a mere ‘conductive movement’.

Rita, so many of her conductor colleagues, and so many others with whom their lives and work are so closely involved, serve a cause, one that is as much an emotional commitment as an intellectual one.

  • They experience the same disappointments and they battle to overcome the same obstacles.
  • They are rewarded with the same joys, joys moreover that those ‘outside’ may not comprehend.
  • They are embedded in the same network of people, they exchange and relish the same gossips.
  • They have terrible disagreements and disappointments with each other and relationships are not always amicable.

Forget the differences that divide. At least when something terrible happens, the core of Conductive Education responds and feels as a family.

Simply, Rita is one of ours. So by extension are András and Arnold, and József too. So is Orsolya, who has lost her nephew. All casualties of the cause that unites us.

Further information

Media bibliography

Gill Maguire’s CE-Library blog has published a useful list of media stories, in Hungarian and in English:

She may continue to update this. The first news story is beginning to die down but further but more reflective information could follow.

Television report

There is a moving news report, from Hungarian TV2, on line at:

First blog with the news

The news broke to the world of Conductive Education early Monday afternoon:

That family feeling

A reflective essay by conductor Susie Mallett, on how she personally has been affected by this news, even though she had never herself met Rita.

Szomorú híradás (Sad tidings)

Formal statement from Franz Schaffhauser, Rektor of the Pető Institute (in Hungarian)

The Rio program

This is not a centre or association as such but a private arrangement by the family of twins with cerebral palsy, with conductor Orsolya Torma working with a British School in Rio that they attend and supervision from the Pető Institute.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Andrew,

    thank you so much for your kind words. It means a lot...

    All the best: Orsolya Torma