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July 2003 - Nr. 7


The Editor
Elizabeth Kuehn
Brahms Violin Concerto
Rachel Seilern
Multiculturalism Day
Hier O.K. Berlin!
KW and Beyond
A Gift of Music
STV Weiss-Blau Bayern
Dance Experience
German School
Young Philharmony
Willkommen in Toronto
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
Diefenbaker Award
Financial Advice
CeBIT America
German Peace Prize
June 17 Uprising

"Caravaning" and such with Rachel


Rachel A.I. Seilern

This year my Caravan experience was broadened as well as lengthened----much to my delight!

Since the Blue Danube pavilion (my "home pavilion") was not open until halfway through the festival, my family and I were able to visit some other pavilions on the first night. Because my heritage is predominantly Hungarian, the unanimous decision was, "First stop: Hungarian pavilion". Just by entering the "Mágyár Ház", I was already impressed---what a beautiful hall, complete with an enormous imperial crown light fixture all aglow and huge portraits of kings and noblemen proudly hanging on the royal blue walls. All the traditional dishes were very yummy, especially the Gulyas (Goulash)---it tasted like my mother’s! (Which is of course the best!J )

The entertainment began with some Hungarian musical favourites played by two brothers on keyboard, piano and accordion combinations. Soon the attention was drawn to a second group of musicians. A seasoned violinist wowed the audience with his wonderful gypsy-style music and remarkable technical abilities on the violin’s fingerboard!

Hungarian folk danceThe highlight for me was the dancing. The young, beautifully clad Kodaly dancers brought us clever-footed traditional folk dances and a hand-, knee- and floor-slapping solo number, receiving a rousing response from the audience. The group of young people can be highly commended for their efforts in keeping a fascinating type of rural culture alive.

Hungarian "Dudelsack"My Hungarian journey, this past month, continued beyond Caravan but not without a little Irish interlude! Because Annie and her brother Samuel of the Forget-me-nots are of partly Irish decent, they were interested in visiting the Irish pavilion…And I, being intrigued by any culture, was eager to tag along. The Irish pavilion was held in a little tavern on a rather frightening corner of the city. McVeigh’s Tavern was not the average Caravan pavilion as it had no displays and performed none of the typical folklore I expected to see. The atmosphere was more like what one would experience in a modern-day Irish pub. Fresh Eire, as the featured band was called, was very lively and entertaining, and although we missed the colourful variety the culture has to show, a good time was had by all.

Since last year’s opening ceremonies for Caravan that I mentioned in my essay in Echo Germanica’s April issue, I’ve been itching to see more Hungarian folk culture and most specifically to experience what is known as a "Táncház". This translates into "dance house" which refers to the cozy, atmospheric jam session and free-for-all dance party that runs late into the night and is held in carefully selected settings in the city once a year. I had been trying to track one of these "táncházs" down for over a year! Finally, through word of mouth, this year’s Toronto Táncház was no longer a mere dream!!! On Monday June 30th, a few of my family members and I hustled out the Fairview Library Theatre for what was to be an incredible night! The Jászság Folk Ensemble from a small town in Northern Hungary brought a performance so passionate and fantastic we stared speechlessly throughout much of it. It was undisputable: The men’s flawless togetherness had an impact just as spellbinding as Riverdance! The more modern theatrical pieces poignantly depicting tragedies of the Hungarian Revolution had some of us spilling a few tears. A very moving and exhilarating experience indeed!! I found it quite interesting how this particular style of dance is similar to German and Austrian Schuhplattler; but the knee-slapping tradition and the fact that men also play the leading role in dance, are perhaps the only similarities Hungary’s music and dance have with its Germanic neighbours! The music itself is so different from that of Germanic people with its Eastern rhythms and strange instruments. (The hurdy gurdy! What a fascinating musical contraption that is a sight to be seen and a wonder to the ears!) After the performance, the audience seemed to know that it was time to join in and so I followed. What fun it was to carefully watch those experienced feet and learn all the intricate steps I had just marvelled over! The dancers and musicians were eager to fiddle, flute and czardas on till the theatre was closing up and we all had to leave.

I hope to enjoy many other cultures’ "táncház’s" and unforgettable performances in the future. I’ve started with Hungary, peeked in on Ireland and this is certainly not the end of my search for the beauty in culture our city is preserving. I invite you to join me on my journey---we could benefit so much.


Comments to: rachel@echoworld.com


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