Zsuzsanna Angyal Csupor
Bernadett Tenk Czefernek
József András Molnár
Árpád Péter Román
Levente Lehel Sütő
Márton László Szakács
Ildikó Marietta Tóth
MUSIC AND DANCE
Heveder Hungarian Folk Ensemble
István “Dumnezeu” Jámbor
Juhász Family Band
Martin “Florin” Kodoba
István “Gázsa” Papp
Szalonna and His Band
István “Kiscsipás” Varga
Born in Kalocsa in 1944, Éva Bagó started embroidering by hand at the Kalocsa Handicraft Cooperative in 1966. She made the switch to machine embroidery in 1985. Ms. Bagó has practiced the craft ever since, and she regularly demonstrates the craft of embroidery at folk festivals in Kalocsa. In 2012, she received the Pécsiné Ács Sarolta award from the Kalocsa Folk Art Foundation in recognition of her work.
Potter and folk crafts teacher
Ms. Barcsay is a passionate and skilled potter, knowledgeable about both the practice and the history of the craft. Ms. Barcsay believes that by practicing the art of pottery she helps sustain the traditions of her ancestors. She transforms clay into dishware, pitchers, and other vessels, in both basic and ornate styles.
Embroiderer and china painter
Ilona Bolvári began her career embroidering by hand at the Kalocsa Handicraft Cooperative and later worked at the Herend Porcelain Manufactory, where she mastered the techniques of porcelain painting. Ms. Bolvári has designed and managed the production of hundreds of folk art motifs painted onto porcelain. Her work has been sold all over Europe, as well as in the United States and Japan. In 1995, Ms. Bolvári established a small business with the goal of preserving and passing on the folk art traditions of Kalocsa. She sells craft items that range from traditional folk paintings to hand-painted porcelain and from hand- and machine-sewn doilies to contemporary clothing. She received the first-ever Pécsiné Ács Sarolta award from the Kalocsa Folk Art Foundation in 1996.
Zsuzsanna Angyal Csupor
Gingerbread and candle maker
Zsuzsanna Angyal Csupor was born in Balassagyarmat in 1955 and grew up wanting to be a potter. She studied the history of the craft and became especially interested in the historical uses of clay objects in Hungary. She received the title of Folk Artist in 1983 from the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture. Ms. Csupor chose to specialize in making dishes and moulds used for baking, as well as pots for candle dipping. She expanded her expertise with baking gingerbread cakes and dipping candles, while also learning to carve and use various wooden tools that were traditionally crafted by gingerbread makers themselves. Ms. Csupor teaches these crafts to folk art aficionados.
Bernadett Tenk Czefernek
Horsehair jewelry maker
Thanks to the influences of her mother, Ms. Czefernek’s passion has been handicraft since early childhood. She initially wove wool but eventually explored a variety of other traditional folk crafts. In 1994, she took a course on horsehair jewelry and now, along with creating traditional styles, she also strives to create her own distinctive models, which build upon folk traditions. Since 1996, she has participated in the Budapest Festival of Folk Arts, the largest traditional folk art festival in Hungary, and has been teaching classes on horsehair jewelry since 1998. Ms. Czefernek received the title of Young Master of Folk Art from the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture in 2004. Her students have also received numerous prestigious awards at exhibitions and competitions.
Balázs Fodor and his wife Rita have worked together in saddle and belt production since 1999 with the goal of raising awareness and sparking interest in the craft. Their work is based primarily on traditional techniques. In addition to riding gear, the couple also crafts a variety of other products, including belts, belt pouches, handbags, backpacks, hunting equipment, cases, sheaths, whips, and much more—each item personalized and distinctive.
Tibor Gáts was born in Kaposvár and has been making traditional folk instruments since 1973, with zithers and gardons being his specialty. His zithers, which come in a wide array of shapes, sizes, tones, and pitches, are made to meet the specific needs of their users, and reflect the maker’s personal creativity and originality. Mr. Gáts received the title of Young Master of Folk Art in 1976, the Folk Art award in 1979, and the Master of Folk Art award in 1993 from the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture. He was named Master of the Year at the 1997 Budapest Festival of Folk Arts.
Bone and horn carver
Zoltán Gosztonyi has practiced woodcarving since he was a child and developed his carving skills at a woodworking technical school, through research in libraries and museums, in various study groups and summer camps, and eventually at the University of Miskolc. Today his products are made not only for contemporary use, but also with an eye towards tradition. During his high school years, Mr. Gosztonyi was a folk dancer with the Somogy Dance Ensemble, an experience that greatly impacted his life. His personal goal is to pass on the techniques of his masters from Somogy to future generations.
Carver and sculptor
A sculptor and carver born in Farkaslaka, Transylvania (Romania), György Jakab is the nephew of the famous Hungarian writer Áron Tamási. Mr. Jakab works with various materials, including wood and bone. He has exhibited his work in the United States and has held lectures for beginner and advanced level art students.
Ágnes Komjáthi, born in Szekszárd, learned linen weaving and decorative fringe design in the local Folk Arts Association. She has been teaching weaving and embroidery since 1981. As a participant in exhibitions and crafts competitions, Ms. Komjáthi received numerous honors, including the title of Master of Folk Art granted by the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture. Ms. Komjáthi has been the president of the Tolna County Folk Art Association for fourteen years and is also a member of the Handicraft Chamber.
As the son of a blacksmith, Sándor Konyári grew up surrounded by metalwork. As a young adult, he learned the trade from coppersmith and folk artist Gábor Szoboszlai. Years later, Mr. Konyári bought Mr. Szoboszlai’s coppersmithing workshop, and he continues to operate it today. Mr. Konyári’s goal is to preserve the traditions of this craft, and he strives to do so by collecting and studying the works of old masters. His products, such as old-time shepherds’ tools, axes, bells and brass buckles, are directly related to the pastoral lifestyle of the Hortobágy region. Mr. Konyári has participated in numerous exhibitions, both in Hungary and abroad, and wears traditional shepherd garb when selling his products at markets in order to evoke the atmosphere of times past.
After graduating from an engineering polytechnic, Gyula Mihalkó worked in different cooperatives while helping out in the hat workshop of his uncle, Zoltán Mihalkó. In 1997, he opened his own hat workshop with his son, and they both joined the Folk Art Society of Hajdú-Bihar County. Guests at his folk art studio may observe the processes of this traditional craft and make their own hat with the help of a master hatter. There is also exhibition space for the display of hats of all kinds made by the Mihalkó hatters, as well as other folk art objects. Among his numerous honors, Mr. Mihalkó was granted the title of Master of Folk Art by Hungary’s Ministry of National Cultural Heritage.
Julianna Minorits was born in 1945 in the Sárköz region. As a member of the Sárpilis Folk Ensemble, she studied and developed a deep respect for Hungarian folk traditions. She learned to weave from master weavers, and became an expert on Sárköz folk costumes. Today she is the only person making certain costume accessories, such as the Sárköz beaded headdress. She collects and preserves folk traditions, and passes them on to younger generations in weaving workshops for children and adults. She also regularly exhibits in Hungary and abroad, and in 1996 her folk jewelry and headdresses received three awards at the Hungarian National Exhibition of Folk Art.
József András Molnár
Folk games teacher
József András Molnár is a museum educator at the Open Air Museum in Szentendre, where he currently serves as the director of the Education Department. In 2012, Mr. Molnár was presented with the Museum Education Award for his project Ráhel, János, Jákob and the Actress, part of an educational series about personal histories designed for high school students. Two projects, The Doll and The Suitcase, both prepared for the Holocaust Memorial Center and USC Shoah Foundation’s educational multimedia competition, received the top prizes in 2010. Mr. Molnár has produced animated films for the Association of History Teachers, and created a variety of movies and television programs as well. His biographical documentary, Ata’s Film, was included in the program of the thirty-seventh annual Hungarian Film Festival.
Shingle and thatch roofer
Béla Nagy has been interested in folk art since he was a young child. He received training in woodcarving and leatherwork, which he now teaches, and he has exhibited his work both in Hungary and abroad. He prefers traditional woodcarving and leatherwork, and gathers the raw materials for the leatherwork himself. Mr. Nagy has been on the board of Zala County's Association of Folk Arts since 1990, and has carried out the duties of vice president since 2000. He holds the title of Folk Artist awarded by the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture, and received the Király Zsiga Award in recognition of his professional work in 2008.
Folk crafts teacher
Katalin Nagyari was born in Nagyvárad, and works in a primary school in Zalaegerszeg, organizing after-school activities and teaching handicrafts. As a child, Ms. Nagyari spent much time with her grandparents in the countryside, where her grandmother taught her how to make toys from corn cobs and husks. A certificate in folk activities management enabled Ms. Nagyari to become a teacher of folk games and crafts. She educates school children, leads workshops and folk craft activities at various events, and teaches adults about weaving husks, bulrushes, and straw. Ms. Nagyari is a member of the Folk Art Society of Zala County and participates annually in the Budapest Festival of Folk Arts, as well as many events abroad.
Mária Pandúr goes by the nickname “Marcsanéni,” which means “Aunt Marcsa.” She has made the folk arts of Kalocsa—especially drawing and painting—both her job and her hobby. Ms. Pandúr designs patterns for tablecloths, runners, pillows, and traditional clothing. She also paints on walls and eggs, or on paper—for purposes of demonstration at exhibitions. Ms. Pandúr’s work was recognized by the Kalocsa Folk Art Foundation with the Pécsiné Ács Sarolta award in 2003.
Árpád Péter Román
Árpád Péter Román graduated from the University of West Hungary in 2002 with a degree in wood sciences, and from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in 2007 with a degree in monument preservation. Since 2003, he has worked at the Open Air Museum in Szentendre on the construction of traditional folk buildings, specializing in wooden structures. Mr. Román was the lead engineer for the research, planning, and construction of the museum’s North Hungarian Village. Today, he is also the technical director of the Szenna Open Air Museum, actively contributing to the development of the collection and frequently leading guided tours in both Hungarian and English.
Growing up surrounded by the sewing and embroidery crafts of her mother and grandmother, Erzsébet Romsics learned these skills very quickly. In her husband’s village, where she moved after marrying, Ms. Romsics learned how to draw patterns on tablecloths for embroidering. Folk drawing became her favorite craft and she decided to pursue it as a vocation. Ms. Romsics was granted the title of Folk Artist in 1993 and Master of Folk Art in 2002 by the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture.
Levente Lehel Sütö
Carpenter and furniture painter
Through fourteen generations of furniture painters and wood carvers, the Sütő family has earned recognition as exemplars of the craft in the Encyclopedia of Hungarian Ethnography. After earning a degree in ethnography and cultural anthropology, Mr. Sütő returned to his family’s centuries-old heritage of producing traditional furniture and household objects. The artist has traveled widely, and his products can be found all over the world. He has furnished a Hungarian restaurant in Copenhagen and the Hungarian Embassy in Berlin, and restored a two hundred-year-old samurai house in Japan. In 2011, the Hungarian government bestowed on Mr. Sütő the title of Master of Folk Art. In 2012, he participated in the International Folk Art Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Márton László Szakács
Márton László Szakács was born in Budapest in 1982 and earned a degree in painting and restoration from the Hungarian University of Fine Arts in 2005. After college, he was employed by the Open Air Museum in Szentendre, where he learned the craft of leatherwork, and specifically traditional saddle making. Since leaving the Open Air Museum in summer 2012, Mr. Szakács has been working in painting restoration as well as in leatherwork and saddle making.
Éva Székelyi was born in Kispest. In 1976, she received the pretigious title of Young Master of Folk Art from the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture. She has taught basket weaving for many years and has co-authored several books about folk art, including two textbooks. Ms. Székelyi is a member of the Folk Arts Council Advisory Board, and gives lectures and participates in exhibitions regularly. Over the years, she has won numerous awards and honors.
Ildikó Marietta Tóth
Ildikó Marietta Tóth was born in Győr in 1962, and attended the Rejtő Sándor School of Textile Arts, where she earned a degree in textile dyeing. Ms. Tóth received professional training in the textile dyeing workshop—founded by her family in 1906—where she worked with her grandmother and father. Currently, Ms. Tóth and her husband produce Transdanubian blue-dye fabrics using traditional methods and handcrafted moulds. She holds the title of Folk Artist, bestowed by the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture. Upon its one hundredth anniversary in 2006, her family’s blue-dyeing workshop was acknowledged by the City of Győr with the Silver Medal.
Rózsa Tóth specializes in drawing the traditional motifs of Kalocsa. Since 2005, she has taught and promoted the art of folk painting through handicraft activities at children’s summer camps. Ms. Tóth also demonstrates the art of Kalocsa-style embroidery and egg painting at folk art events, festivals, and open air museums, and she is a member of the Kalocsa Folk Art Society and the Traditional Women’s Choir of Újtelek. In 1987, her juried work earned her the title of Folk Artist from the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture, and her work is now regularly featured in folk art exhibitions. Ms. Tóth is also an expert on traditional local cuisine.
György Csontos Sr. and his sons, György Jr. and Péter, were born into a long line of shepherds in Karcag, the capital city of the Cuman people. In the Csontos family, the preparation of mutton stew is a long-standing tradition, and each member of the family learns the trade in early childhood. As masters of the craft, they have been invited to cook for a variety of important occasions, such as baptisms, naming ceremonies, weddings, and other social events. As a family, they have won numerous prizes and several gold medals at regional and national mutton stew competitions. Out of 156 participants at the Karcag Mutton Cooking Competition in 2005, the Csontos family received the three top prizes. The family maintains its traditions and values through preparing shepherd dishes, preserving songs and anecdotes about the herding lifestyle, and cultivating Cuman heritage.
Cook and egg painter
Ilona Kollár was born in Kishegyes, Serbia. Having studied folk art and embroidery, she has been a regular participant of the Zalaegerszeg Gibárt educators craft camp for the last thirteen years. Among her other skills are weaving, gingerbread making, wood carving, pottery, beading, and cooking traditional dishes. Ms. Kollár regularly leads handicraft workshops for children and adults and participates in the Budapest Festival of Folk Arts, garnering many honors. In 2010, she was made an honorary citizen of her native village.
Péter Utasi was born in Topolya, Serbia. Mr. Utasi is a member of two dance ensembles and teaches folk dance to children. He also enjoys preparing culinary specialities. At the Festival, he is preparing special dishes from the historical area of Bácska, a region that spans the Hungarian-Serbian border.
Eszter Bíró is acknowledged as a singer and actress in Hungary. Her most notable achievements include singing the lead vocals for the well-known Budapest Klezmer Band, the female lead in the Hungarian-Polish movie A Miracle in Cracow, and Christine in the Hungarian premiere of Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. Ms. Bíró started her career at the age of sixteen, playing the title role of Miss Saigon, which was performed over one hundred times. In 1997, she won the first prize of the Junior Eurovision Festival in Croatia. After graduating from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, she played Mary Magdalene on the tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Lute and zither player
Mátyás Bolya plays the oriental fretless lute (kobza) and the zither. He enjoys blending modern styles with old ones, reconstructing traditional playing techniques of the past. His distinct genre is folk music-based improvisational chamber music. Appearing in about fifty musical and theater performances, Mr. Bolya also composes, orchestrates, arranges music for puppet and dance performances, and compiles teaching materials. He is founder of the Moldvahon Csángó Cultural Society (2003), cofounder of DialekTon Folk Music Publishers, and founder of the Kárpátia Folk Band, which won the eMeRTon award for Folk Music Band of the Year in 2002. Since 2001 he has been a researcher at the Folk Music Archive in the Institute of Musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Jim Cockell was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta. He began musical studies at a very young age and took an early interest in jazz, literature, and composition. A chance opportunity to work with Hungarian dancers inspired Mr. Cockell to explore folk music while pursuing a career as an orchestral violinist. Since 1994, his ensemble Cifra has performed and has been broadcast across Canada, and has produced two albums of Hungarian folk music. His folkloric studies have taken him across the Carpathian Basin on several occasions, and he is a regular on the North American festival and workshop scene. Mr. Cockell has also played with the symphony orchestras of Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Red Deer, the Alberta Baroque Ensemble, the Citadel Theatre, and the National Ballet of Canada.
Bob Cohen was born in New York in 1956 to a Hungarian mother and Moldavian father. In the late 1980s, he commenced his research on Hungary’s Jewish musical heritage, including songs, dances, and musical instruments. In 1993, he founded Di Naye Kapelye (The New Band) with accordionist Christina Crowder and bassist Géza Pénzes. The musicians present klezmer music in the style in which it was originally performed in Eastern Europe in the early twentieth century. Their 2008 release Traktorist ranked high on Songline World Music Magazine’s “Top of the World” list of best new albums.
Anna Csizmadia started singing and speaking at the same time, inspired by her mother’s folk songs. Currently in her second year at the prestigious Liszt Ferenc Music Academy, where she studies traditional singing, Ms. Csizmadia was a finalist on Fölszállott a Páva, Hungary’s folk music talent show.
Dancer and choreographer
Dezső Fitos started dancing in his early childhood, first as a member of the Zala Dance Ensemble and later as a soloist and art assistant for the professional Budapest Dance Ensemble and the Honvéd Dance Company. Since 2007, he has been a dancer, choreographer, and director for his own dance company, as well as the art director of the Szentendre Dance Ensemble and of the Lippentő Dance Ensemble in Győr. Mr. Fitos not only teaches traditional Hungarian folk dances, he also collects and researches them in the Carpathian Basin, thereby contributing to their preservation. Among his accomplishments are the Harangozó Gyula Award, the Europass Dance Award, the Perpetual Golden Spurs Soloist Award, and the title of Young Master of Folk Art from the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture.
Heveder Hungarian Folk Ensemble
The musicians of the Heveder Hungarian Folk Ensemble play Hungarian, Romanian, and Roma folk music that comes straight from the villages of Transylvania (Romania). The band members are from the largely Hungarian populated city of Sepsiszentgyörgy/Sfântu Gheorghe in eastern Transylvania (Romania). Founded in 2002, Heveder has since become an all-time favorite at festivals and folk dance events throughout Transylvania (Romania). The band has toured Hungary, Romania, and Western Europe, as well as the United States. In 2008 and 2009, the Heveder Ensemble appeared on Hungarian television, receiving numerous awards for their performances. The group’s first studio recording, Eresszed hadd mennyen/Let It Go, was released in 2009, and their second, Székely/Szekler, in 2011, especially for their USA tour.
Born in Budapest and trained as an architectural engineer, Balázs Istvánfi has been playing folk music since he was a child. He studied in the Folk Music Department of the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy, played the Hungarian bagpipes (duda) for twenty years, and has been teaching bagpipes at the Hungarian Folk Music School in Óbuda. Mr. Istvánfi has three solo albums and has been featured on numerous others. He also makes bagpipes that have won him several awards at exhibitions. He is a member of the Kalamona Band, the Duo Paganum, and often joins the Hungarian Bagpipe Orchestra in concert.
István “Dumnezeu” Jámbor
The Roma musicians of Szászcsávás descend from two prominent musical dynasties. The most remarkable artist among them is lead fiddler (prímás) István Jámbor, whose nickname, “Dumnezeu,” allegedly refers to his divine musical talent (in the Romanian language, Dumnezeu means God). Mr. Jámbor was barely fourteen when he started playing lead fiddle in his own band, performing at weddings, baptisms, balls, as well as at staged events. The band’s repertoire is immense, due largely to the fact that they play Hungarian, Romanian, and Roma music equally well.
Juhász Family Band
An electrical engineer by training, Zoltán Juhász specializes in the field of algorithms and artificial intelligence. He has developed a pioneering computer analysis method for matching melodies from all corners of the world, yet his true passion lies in researching, performing and teaching the instrumental and vocal traditions of the Hungarian shepherds. Mr. Juhász plays with the band Egyszólam, but he also collaborates on performances and publications of other renowned folk music ensembles. He has performed for audiences in London’s Royal Festival Hall, at the Lincoln Center in New York City, and in the concert hall of Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, among many others. Mr. Juhász’s children, Réka and Dénes, are talented musicians as well. Dénes Juhász was introduced to Hungarian traditional instruments by his father. Since the age of six, he has played the flute and the fiddle, and, apart from his passion for music, he enjoys working with horses. Likewise, Réka Juhász has been surrounded by master culture bearers since childhood. In addition to singing, she also plays gardon, an ancient percussive instrument similar to the cello. Along with performing on stage, Ms. Juhász also leads group sessions and teaches music at summer camps. In 2009, Ms. Juhász was honored with the title of Young Master of Folk Art by the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture. Her first solo recording, Dreams of the Righteous, was released in 2012.
Dancer and choreographer
Enikő Kocsis, along with her husband, Dezső Fitos, serves as the artistic director of the Szentendre Dance Ensemble, the Lippentő Dance Ensemble of Győr, and the Fitos Dezső Dance Company. She teaches a wide range of age groups, from young children to professional dancers. In her productions, Ms. Kocsis pays tribute to prominent women in folk societies with choreographies that have garnered numerous awards. Her dance career started in Győr, continued in the Budapest Dance Ensemble, and eventually she became the soloist at the Honvéd Dance Company. Her accomplishments include the Harangozó Gyula Award, the Europass Dance Award, and the Perpetual Golden Beads Soloist Award.
Martin “Florin” Kodoba
Martin “Florin” Kodoba is the lead fiddler of the Magyarpalatka Folk Ensemble, one of the most popular and widely known bands in the Hungarian dance-house movement, playing Hungarian, Romanian, and Roma music. The musicians are among the last representatives of Transylvanian instrumental folk music and pass down musical knowledge from generation to generation. The ensemble regularly participates in Hungarian folk music festivals where audiences can hear them live and dance to their unique style.
Traditional dance and folk dress design are important parts of Ilona Muszka's life, having grown up in the town of Méra in the Transylvanian region of Kalotaszeg (Romania). Ms. Muszka and her husband György share Hungary's rich cultural heritage with audiences through dance and traditional dress. She currently teaches dance at an art school for students of all ages, and has been awarded the title of Young Master of Folk Art by the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture.
Andrea Navratil grew up in a musical family; they sang together often, and many family members played musical instruments. Ms. Navratil considers her true masters to be the elderly women and men from whom she learned chants and customs. A member of the ensembles Kobzos, Fonó, and Igriczek, Ms. Navratil is also the soloist of the Danube Folk Ensemble. She has won awards at numerous folk music events and contests, holds the title of Young Master of Folk Art, awarded by the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture, and has garnered countless honors for her achievements in education and folk music interpretation.
András Németh was introduced to the hurdy-gurdy as a child and is now known as a great innovator of hurdy-gurdy playing. Currently a student at the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy, Mr. Németh earned the title of Young Master of Folk Arts, awarded in 2007 by the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture, and the Prima Junior Prize, awarded in 2012 by the Prima Primissima Foundation for his commitment to the advancement of folk art and national culture.
Originally from Székelyudvarhely, Transylvania (Romania), where he danced in the Venyige Ensemble, László Orbán later moved to Budapest and became a fiddler for Hungary’s preeminent professional folk group, the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble. He also accompanied many other professional folk groups across Hungary and is sought after for his knowledge and proficiency in Transylvanian folk music. Mr. Orbán has traveled extensively, researching the music of the villages and towns of Romania and Hungary. Now living in Los Angeles, he works throughout the year with Hungarian folk enthusiasts from all over North America, and spends his summers in Hungary and his native Transylvania (Romania).
Enikő Pálfi was born in Méra, in the Transylvanian region of Kalotaszeg (Romania). As a child, Ms. Pálfi became acquainted with the local folk customs, including folk songs and dances. She learned folk dancing, sewing, and bead stitching from her family. Today she is a member of a folk dance troupe, teaches sewing and bead stitching at various events, and organizes craft study groups.
István “Gázsa” Papp
István “Gázsa” Papp, the lead fiddler of the Bodzafa band, was one of the best-known Transylvanian (Romania) dance-house musicians in the 1980s. Mr. Papp acquired the nickname “Gázsa” during his trips to collect folk music, when he would introduce himself as the “grandson of Gázsa Sándor.” The surname Gázsa derives from the Romani word gádzsó, meaning a stranger, in reference to non-Roma people. Mr. Papp was invited to be the lead violinist of the Budapest Dance Ensemble, a prestigious position he holds to this day. His remarkable repertoire of folk music can be attributed to his long history with dance houses, his Transylvanian roots, as well as his mastery of the wide range of musical dialects required by professional dance companies.
The Roma folk music group Parno Graszt formed in 1987 and is based in the members’ home village, Paszab. Their name means white horse, which in Romani folklore represents both purity and freedom. The sound of Parno Graszt is rooted in the traditional Gypsy songs of northeastern Hungary, representing a specific local dialect of Roma music. Their instruments are acoustic guitars, double bass, tambura, accordion, spoons, milk jugs, and vocal percussion, which is a continuous vocal improvisation similar to beatboxing. The group’s first album, Hit the Piano (2002), was the first Hungarian record in history to reach the Top 10 of World Music Charts Europe. Since then, Parno Graszt has produced three more albums and has been voted among the Ten Best Artists of the Year by the Swiss Vibrations Magazine. They have performed throughout Europe and around the world. In recognition of their work to preserve Romani culture and heritage, EBU and BBC produced a documentary about the group. The documentary, titled Parno Graszt, was selected for the Official Film Screening at WOMEX 2008.
New York City-born Jake Shulman-Ment is a violinist who has recorded extensively throughout North America and Europe since the age of fourteen. He often collaborates with groups and renowned artists working to promote Klezmer and Eastern European folk music through creative platforms. Apart from performing, Mr. Shulman-Ment is an extraordinary teacher and has been a faculty member of New York’s Henry Street Settlement, KlezKamp, KlezKanada, Klezmer Paris, and Yiddish Summer Weimar. He is also an avid traveler who has embarked on several trips to collect, study, perform, and document traditional folk music in Hungary, Romania, and Greece.
Szalonna and His Band
Led by István Pál (known by the nickname of Szalonna), the band currently accompanies the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble. In their concerts, they play beautiful melodies from the Carpathian Basin. Along with their traditional folk music repertoire, they also perform folk music-inspired reinterpretations. Because maintaining traditions is very important to the band members, they also teach folk music. They are regular participants in the largest music festivals in Hungary, and have also performed throughout Europe and overseas—including in India, Venezuela, and the United States. In 2007, they won the Prima Primissima People’s Choice Award together with the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble.
Áron Székely is a folk dancer, dance teacher, and choreographer living in New York. Mr. Székely also plays the viola in the Talpra Magyar Hungarian Folk Ensemble and often collaborates with the Hungarian American band Életfa. He is the director of Magyar Folk Media, an enterprise dedicated to popularizing the most authentic and traditional dances of Hungarian, Romanian, and Gypsy cultures using contemporary media.
András Tötszegi was born in Méra, in the Transylvanian region of Kalotaszeg (Romania). He is the founder and leader of the local folk dance group, as well as the founder and president of Méra's Institute of Tradition. Mr. Tötszegi has collected folk dances from many Transylvanian communities and has lectured and taught Kalotaszeg folk dances all over Europe and in Japan.
Szilárd Tötszegi holds a master's degree in the field of art and design, and has studied film, photography, and media. Since the age of six, he has been a member of Méra's folk dance troupe in Transylvania (Romania), and for several years led a children's dance group. Mr. Tötszegi is also a founding member of the Kalotaszeg Folk Dance Ensemble.
István “Kiscsipás” Varga
István “Kiscsipás” Varga was born into a family of musicians in Bánffyhunyad, in the Kalotaszeg region of Transylvania (Romania). His father taught him to play the violin, while his uncle taught him how to whistle the tunes he played. Mr. Varga describes himself as a keeper of traditions, having been taught by his elders to cherish and sustain the rich musical traditions of Kalotaszeg. His repertoire is exceptionally broad, encompassing the Hungarian, Romanian and Roma folk music of the region. Mr. Varga collects folk music from local elders, but he also composes many of the melodies he plays.