festivals- csipero and kisörs

in july i witnessed a celebration of music, dance, and culture that impressed and inspired me. every two years kecskemét hosts an international youth festival. students from 18 different countries across europe and beyond come for a week and stay with hungarian host families. each evening there are several music and dance performances from different eras and cultures, children dressed in traditional costumes, presenting the dance steps and songs they’ve learned from ancestors. on the first night, the mayor of the town gave the youngest student the key to the city. the pathways in the center were lined with county-fair-style booths; food, crafts, toys, balloons, a face-painting stand. there were three stages set up for performances, one cleverly located next to the ruins of the old catholic church, using the foundation as an amphitheatre and seating for the audience. a troupe of young break-dancers assembled in the main square and attracted a large group of onlookers. festival organizers also assembled some elaborate benches, painted with the flags of each different country, with a map and general information on the back, that played traditional music when you sat on them. concerts included renaissance music from italy and spain, a serbian group, a croatian band, classical hungarian (kodaly and bartok) performed by the youth festival orchestra, and even a bit of american blues and rock.

i watched czech girls in traditional garb chasing barefoot czech boys around the ‘kitchen’ with brooms, turkish children dressed in red, gold, and black, with turbans and billowing pants. on the final night they had a fireworks display projected from the steeple of the great church, the town center brimming with thousands of gaping mouths and necks craned upwards. i felt overwhelmed at how lucky i am to have found such a wonderful town, full of energy and optimism for the future.

csipero

(a note to tamas who will surely read this: let me know if i’ve misrepresented anything here and if there’s a csipero website i could add to this)

though csipero definitely took the cake of hungarian festivals i’ve seen, another memorable one was at a little village called kisörs puszta. the locals celebrated the crowning of the first hungarian king by erecting a makeshift pub- a frame made of tree trunks covered with a plastic tarp to protect us from the elements. local wine was sold in plastic cups, along with beer and unicum (the strong herbal liquor popular here). a little stage was built in one corner where performers played guitar, wooden flutes, and a strange percussion instrument that looked like a small cello, while dancers spun and stamped in the old style. i met many there who were willing to let me practice my hungarian. open-faced sandwiches were sold with fat or liver and onions- a specialty. children sold homemade baked goods at little stands, along with jewelry they’d crafted themselves.

one of the greatest things i saw there was one of the musicians teaching a child to play the flute. he sat at a table and played a traditional melody, repeating and repeating as these melodies do, and the child watched his fingers and played with him. no sheet music, no discussion, just patience and practice.

kisors music

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~ by aliciawolcott on December 26, 2006.

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