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Since childhood I have been closely surrounded by the diverse world of Hungarian folk culture. Napa dance has been an integral part of my life for almost 20 years. I graduated in 2009 in Nyíregyháza. During my years of study here I acquired the basics of the uniquely rich singing, music and dance culture of the Carpathian Basin, and it was here that I became acquainted with our traditions and the rich store of our folk culture in more detail. I was later able to take this knowledge to an even higher level during my 10-year professional dancing career in the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble led by Zoltán Zsuráfszky. As a dancer soloist of the ensemble, I was awarded the Hungarian Bronze Cross of Merit in 2019 and the Golden Pearl Dancer Award in 2022. The most important principle of my entire career so far has been to contribute to the perpetuation of my own culture with all the knowledge I have acquired, at the highest level possible. This September, I am the lucky one who will be able to help the Hungarian community in San Francisco and to do valuable work far away from my homeland.
As the son of the world famous Hungarian folk singer and storyteller András Berecz, István’s interests towards Hungarian folklore are grounded in his early childhood. He improved his folk dance skills in various dance ensembles, under the patronage of the best old dance masters from the Carpathian Basin’s remote regions, where folk traditions are still alive. He won the Golden Spur award – the highest acknowledgement for Hungarian folk dancers – three times, thus becoming a Gold Spurer for life. He was chosen as “Hungary’s best male folk dancer” in 2009. He won the first season of the “Fölszállott a Páva” Hungarian folk talent show in the solo dancer category in 2012, and was later invited to be on the judge panel. He was delegated to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival of Washington DC in 2013. Currently he is the folk art director of the “Womex Top Label”-awarded Fonó Music Hall. He has also worked as a choreographer for the National Theatre.
ESZTERLÁNC HUNGARIAN FOLK ENSEMBLE
San Francisco, Bay Area
The Eszterlanc Hungarian Folk Ensemble is a performing group based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our mission is to promote and present traditional Hungarian folk dances and to preserve the history of Hungarian folk culture in all its forms.
The dance group has been celebrating and showcasing Hungarian folk culture in the Bay Area since 1977 through presentations to the Hungarian community and the general public.
The Ensemble consists of twenty to forty adults ranging from age 14 and up. Most are of Hungarian heritage, although membership has never been limited to those with Hungarian backgrounds. The dancers receive their training in the Ensemble as well as from guest teachers and at workshops statewide.
The community served by Eszterlanc is vast, as appearances include international festivals, social events, patriotic holidays, and ethnic events. The Hungarian community alone, the group's most supportive audience, numbers in the tens of thousands in California.
FORRÁS HUNGARIAN FOLK BAND
Forrás Banda (pronounced: FOUR-rahsh BUN-duh) was formed in 1997. Since then it has grown to become a driving force in the Hungarian folk scene in North America. The ensemble plays traditional village music from Central Europe and its members have regularly studied with master musicians in Hungary and Transylvania.
Forrás Banda’s performances are both entertaining and educational as the players present the traditional lifestyle and work of the peasant musician. They have a broad repertoire accompanying dance troops, presenting musical concerts and the traditional Táncház (Hungarian folk dance parties).
Forrás Banda prides itself in the authenticity of its music. Their work focuses on the acquisition, preservation and presentation of their Hungarian musical heritage. Their repertoire also includes music of Romanian and Romani origin but particularly focuses on music from Transylvania. They play stringed instruments such as violin, a modified viola called the kontra and double bass.
Forrás Banda also plays more unique instruments such as the cimbalom (hammered dulcimer), furulya (shepherd’s flutes), duda (bagpipes), ütőgardon (percussive cello), tapán (moldavian drum), koboz (moldavian lute) and tambura (tamburica).
Residing in Vancouver and Seattle the band performs regularly entertaining audiences across Canada and the US.
KÁRPÁTOK HUNGARIAN FOLK ENSEMBLE
Kárpátok Hungarian Folk Ensemble of Los Angeles was founded in 1965 by a group of young Hungarian immigrants wishing to preserve their heritage. The ensemble is a lasting legacy of the 1956 generation in LA. The name “Kárpátok”, after the Carpathian Mountains, was chosen as a symbol of greater Hungary and the ensemble’s repertoire includes examples from all three dance dialects: Transdanubia, the Great Hungarian Plains and Transylvania. Through the years, more than 500 members have participated in Kárpátok. This figure becomes even more significant when one realizes that no member receives any monetary benefits.
Kárpátok Hungarian Folk Ensemble was celebrating its 55thAnniversary in 2020, days before the start of the shut-down. After a 400 day break caused by the pandemic the group started rehearsing and performing again a year ago. Their artistic work and mission were made possible by the financial support of the Hungarian Government through the Bethlen Gábor and the Kőrösi Csoma Sándor Programs.
DIANA PRAY – SOPRANO
San Francisco, Bay Area
Soprano Diana Pray specializes in early, Baroque, and modern music, making her Bay Area singing career with companies including the American Bach Soloists, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco Opera, Volti, and sfSound.
She is happy to perform at the Hungarian Heritage Festival for a third year and thanks its organizers, and all Bay Area Hungarian groups and performers, for countless opportunities to live her heritage through music.
FIRST CALIFORNIA HUSSAR REGIMENT
San Francisco, Bay Area
This equestrian organization was established in 2000 in Los Gatos, CA.
Educate the public about the interwoven history of the US and Hungary: 1) In 1776, a Hungarian Hussar officer established and trained the US Cavalry for George Washington. 2) Hungarian soldiers participated in the American Revolution for Independence and the Civil War. 3) Americans helped to preserve Hungarian National Treasures during WWII.
Enjoy by providing colorful entertainment for the public and providing lessons to young people who learn about the equestrian heritage and all the associated skills.
Anyone can become a Hussar (riding or none riding) by joining the First California Hussar Regiment by following the information below: www.californiahussars.com
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