Istvan Tamas met Andrea Gerak at 11th Borsod Arts Festival in
Hungary. The interview appeared on Zene.hu, the biggest Hungarian
music portal, on Canadian Hungarian Journal and on many other news
Already when five, Andrea demanded a spot for herself on
stage. From a very young age as a child, she was singing and
dancing in the Borsod, Avas, Csepel and Bartok folk dance groups.
She travelled all over Europe, as a lover and performer of
Hungarian folk songs and world music.
Today, her name is already well known in the world of artists,
as well as amongst fans of the genre. It shows the diversity of her
repertoire that even jazz or musical pieces fit well. In Stockholm,
she represented our country at several international gala concerts.
One of these significant events was singing on the Human Rights
Day, in front of diplomats of numerous countries. Last November she
performed at the renown Brugges Festival, this time as the singer
of the international production Brugge - Bucharest Express. I met
Andrea in the Valley of Experiences, at Borsod Arts Festival, in
the Fignar Festival Court of Dubicsany.
- Where did you arrive from now, here to Dubicsany, Valley
- Now I arrived from Sweden to Budapest where I spent a few
days, then performed in Sibiu (Romania), with Zoltan Lantos violin
virtuoso, with whom I will have a show here at this festival.
- You are a world traveller. Where, in which countries have
you performed, and how popular are Hungarian folk songs
- It would be easier to tell where in Europe I have not
performed yet, because I have not been yet to the area that used to
be Yugoslavia, nor to Norway or Holland. As the Hungarian folk song
heritage is uniquely rich, it is looked at as something special. I
mean the sound, the vocal techniques, the melodies. In many places,
they consider Hungarian folk songs exotic, and there are people who
compare it to Portugal Fado, Irish or Bulgarian folk songs.
- How do you spend your days, what's your
- Fortunately, I can manage my time pretty well, and I use
the alarm clock only occasionally. On concert days, I try not to
deal with other things.
- Do you perform with a set musician team who go with you
everywhere to provide you with accompaniment?
- I don't have my own band but several various line-ups, and
sometimes I perform in duos, sometimes acapella, or with a CD
background. I have two duos to work with, one is Zoltan Lantos
violin virtuoso, with him we play "floating" music which is very
pleasant to listen to, with a special electronic sound. The other
one is Beata Salamon who is one of the world's best fiddlers, we
play acoustic. As for bands, I have a line-up called Andrea Gerak
& Friends, which is not one group, but I invite the musicians
for the occasions, and also, one could hear me as a guest of Méta
Band. In Sweden, for there is also a Hungarian folk band there, I
sing with the Barozda. They migrated from Transylvania to Sweden,
where they have been living and playing for twenty years or
- We can say that you have found your way around the big
world, for your name is well-known not only in Hungary but in
Europe, too. How did you come to this festival now, to
(Dubicsany is a tiny village in North-East Hungary, Andrea's
hometown - ed.)
- As I grew up here in the near, in Kazincbarcika, I could
almost say that I grew up on the stage of Egressy Cultural Centre,
organizer of Borsod Arts Festival, so that was my second home as a
folk dancer, and this way I had the connections from those old days
with the organizers who gladly invited me and I, as you can see it,
come here and sing with pleasure.
- How do you eperience success?
- This is a good question, for what counts as success? - one
always stops for a moment to think about it. It happens that I get
nice surprises and there are moments which bring tears in my eyes.
For me, success is not really when let's say, I get a fan letter or
they flod me with flowers or this and that - of course, this feels
all great. The greatest moment for me at a performance is to see
how my singing, my music would touch someone.
- If you can remember, what was the first time when you
felt it would be worth for you to get involved in music, singing,
or when did you start to sing folk songs at all?
- My first "leading role" was in a kindergarten performance,
when I was the poor girl who eventually became the prince's wife,
so that was a main character, and I had my first stage performance
as a dancer as well around the same time.
- Do you still dance?
- Not as actively as before, but if it comes to that on the
stage, of course with pleasure anytime, or sometimes I do workshops
in Hungarian folk dance, or often we have a short dance
presentation at a concert. And just for myself, just for fun,
- What are your plans, do you have mpre programs for the
rest of this year?
- I can see the summer and the early autumn pretty well.
After this concert, I will perform at the Global Summit of
Hungarians, where probably I will have more than one gigs. If
Zoltan Lantos will be able to come as well, we will do a show
together there too. Then I will have a solo show in Veröce, at the
Global Summit of Transylvanian Hungarians, there I will also be one
of the persons hosting the program. And after that, my next gig
will be at the National Wine Queen Contest, in Tarcal.
- You are beeing modest, because you did not mention that
you have represented Hungary at numerous occasions. What kind of
events were these?
- Yes. For example at a Womens' Day Gala which was organized
by I don't even know how many embassies in Stockholm, including the
Hungarian one. In my folk dancer years, I have performed at many
international folk dance festivals. Recently, in Sibiu (Romania),
the Hungarian Cultural Office organized an event, which was called
Hungaricum Days and they presented great values to the attendees.
Also there, I had a concert with Zoltan Lantos.
- One can hear these three names mentioned often together:
Marta Sebestyen, Bea Palya and Andrea Gerak. How can you see the
future of Hungarian folk music, will there be
- It's a great honor for me, if I am mentioned along with
such great names, and fortunately there are many other well-known
talents. There is Agi Szaloki for instance, or I know many young
and talented singers, especially since they have started to teach
folk music at the Liszt Academy of Music. I get many requests
asking for advise via the internet or on the phone, from those who
want to learn about folk singing. I am happy about that and gladly
try to help them.
- Are you planning a video clip or an album in the near
- Not this year. Now I am working on that I can make my older
songs better, and focusing on the concerts. later we shall see how
things develop around publishing a new album…
- Istvan Tamas - [2011.07.18.]
Original interview on Zene.hu
Canadian Hungarian Journal
5th Fignar Festival Court (photos by Andrea Gerak)
Global Summit of Hungarians from
Global Summit of Hungarians
National Wine Queen Contest