Muzsikás in Concert
The winners of the WOMEX Award for World Music in 2008 and a 40 year track record, MUZSIKÁS is the most renowned and popular Hungarian folk music ensemble worldwide and in their home country. MUZSIKÁS pioneered the global popularity of Hungarian folk music that is now a well-established niche in the roots and world music scenes. Thanks to their unique musical skills, instrumental knowledge and musical versatility, they have left their mark on numerous genres, collaborating with various noted musicians and groups, from folk and world-music to classical and jazz, and even to alternative rock music. They have already presented their exceptional live performances at renowned venues including the Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Barbican Center and Queen Elisabeth Hall in London, Théatre de la Ville and Cité de la Musique in Paris, Santa Cecilia Academy in Rome, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and Carnegie Hall in New York. In 2011 they appeared at the Royal Festival Hall in the concert-series of Infernal Dance organised by Philharmonia London Orchestra honouring the great composer Béla Bartók. In the 2012 concert season they received a standing ovation at the Carnegie Hall with their program, The Routes and Roots of Bartók, together with the renowned pianist, András Schiff. In 2015, they performed at Skirball Center as part of Kulturfest with their trailblazing Jewish folk music collection from Transylvania.
Muzsikás returns to New York for a special performance at the Playhouse at Abrons Arts Center, highlighting the richness of the multiethnic cultural heritage of their broader home region, the Carpathian Basin, a unique zone of Europe inhabited by (at least) ten different nationalities and cultural groups. Muzsikás accepted to perform a full concert featuring the standout guest vocalist Hanga Kacso as well as the four core band members as a uninque free experience for old and young to benefit the efforts of New York City associations seeking to raise funds for a memorial commemorating the 1956 revolution in Hungary against Stalinist oppression.
This performance is made possible through the generosity of Muzsikás members donating their skills and time, the Hungarian Cultural Center and the Consulate General of Hungary as well as support from the National Cultural Fund of Hungary and the 1956 Memorial Fund.
About the artists
Mihály Sipos founded the group Muzsikás with his two friends, Dániel Hamar and Sándor Csoóri. He became the “primás” (lead violin) of the band. Besides the violin he plays the “citera” in Muzsikás. He is the artistic director of most of the concerts and ensemble recordings and he is the coordinator between Muzsikás and guest musicians. Sipos was born in 1948 in Budapest, Hungary. His ancestors from his father’s side were shepherds, his grandmother knew their old songs and dances. The grandfather on his mother’s side was a great singer and the lover of the classical music, the first violin was given to the young Sipos by him. Sipos’ mother learned piano at the Liszt Music Academy, so he was surrounded by music during his childhood. He became a pupil of one of the most famous music schools established by Zoltán Kodály, where he started to play the violin at the age of seven. He studied classical violin for 11 years. He became involved in the traditional music scene in 1972 and has never looked back since.
Daniel Hamar was born in 1951 in Budapest, Hungary. He started his musical career with playing the piano at the age of seven, switching to classical double-bass a few years later. He became a member of the Symphony Orchestra of St. Stephen Grammar School. Although this was considered an amateur orchestra, the best Hungarian soloists and conductors performed with them, and many of its young musicians became professionals. Hamar started to play traditional Hungarian music when he was 22. As most of the classically- trained musicians, Hamar knew little about traditional Hungarian music that time. He visited remote Hungarian villages to learn the old techniques of playing, and established the group Muzsikás with his friends Sándor Csoóri and Mihály Sipos in 1973. Hamar plays double-bass and percussion instruments in the band. He is the spokesman for Muzsikás and the official leader of the band. Dániel Hamar graduated as a geophysicist from the Eötvös University in 1974 and earned a Ph.D in 1994. He is a senior research fellow of the Space Research Group of Eötvös University, Budapest.
László Porteleki was born in Budapest, but grew up in a little Transdanubian village named Ozora, where his grandfather was a village musician, playing the “citera”. The child Porteleki learned this instrument and played together with his grandfather in different village feasts. When he was 12 his family moved to Budapest where he learned to play the classical violin. He regularly visited the Muzsikás “dance house” and started to be interested in traditional folk music. He formed his first group in 1975 and a year later he founded the folk music group TÉKA, where he was the violinist and the solo singer. With Téka he released 4 albums and besides the Muzsikás, Téka ran the most popular “Táncház” club in Budapest during the eighties and nineties. From the beginning, he collected folk music for the Academy of Science of Hungary, meanwhile he played together with the local folk musicians. He left Téka in 1991 and became the professional musician of the Honvéd Art Ensemble. In 1996 he became a member of the Muzsikás, he plays the violin, the lute and also adds vocals to the performances.
Péter Éri was born in 1953 in Budapest, Hungary. As a ten-year old child he won the first prize of a dance competition with his performance of the so-called Lads’s Dance from Kalotaszeg, accompanied by his schoolmate András Schiff, the world-famous pianist of today. His stepfather, Dr György Martin, the famous ethnographer brought young Éri to his trips where he collected Hungarian traditional dances and instrumental music and so Éri made his first connections with living musical and dance traditions. When he was 14, he became a dancer for the Bartók Dance Ensemble where he was an active dancer for six years. His interest in music was equally strong, however, and he became the bass-player for the first Hungarian roots revival band, Sebő Group. At this time, the singer of this band was Márta Sebestyén. Meanwhile, when Muzsikás was established in 1973, Éri became a permanent guest-musician for the band, and in 1978 he became a full member. Éri graduated from the Eötvös University of Budapest as an ethnographer and a philologist of Romanian language and literature. He plays the viola, the three-thring “kontra”, mandolin and different kind of flutes.
About the Hungarian Cultural Center
Balassi Institute is a network of cultural matchmakers, Hungarian centers of culture in 23 countries and all seeking to link up artists, academics, arts and culture professionals and audiences in processes of exchange and bridgebuilding between societies. It is an agency overseen by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and promotes Hungarian and Central European culture, often through collaborative efforts – a principle especially relevant in a scene as saturated with great productions as New York City and the United States. As the only US representation of the Balassi network, the Hungarian Cultural Center in New York attempts to present the multicultural past and present of Hungarian arts and society to American audiences while also inviting professionals and artists from the United States to engage with their Hungarian counterparts back home. The more the Center succeeds in fostering Transatlantic cultural dialogues, the more it is fulfilling its principal role. The Hungarian Cultural Center has been a proud partner of Abrons Arts Center over the years, having supported or co-presented eight great Central European performances on the LES from 2012 to 2016.