Music makes a real bridge between man and man. Music spreads mankind’s historical, intellectual, and spiritual identity, regardless of the individual’s origin. The Mass, “Le Devleske” does not belong exclusively to the Roma minority, but rather to everybody being familiar with all the historical burden and difficulties the European minorities have gone through throughout their history.
The full text of the Bible was translated into the Lovari language and was published just a few years ago. The musical parts of the Holy Mass liturgy, which have ever been sung by the faithful, now are interpreted in an authentic and unique way. Its melody has been composed particularly for this world event and is going to be performed live for the first time in liturgical circumstances with the participation of brilliant singers, a fantastic choir and other widely known and internationally reputed musicians, all topped with a first ranked Maestro.
In preparation for the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, Cardinal, Primate Péter Erdő initiated to compose and perform a Mass in Lovari, for the orchestration of which he invited György Lakatos, the multi-awarded violinist of the American Protégé International Music Talent Competition. György Lakatos was born to a many-generations musician family. His pianist mother and fiddler father tried to orient their son a bit away from the difficult and thorny path of a musician, thus he started playing violin relatively late, at the age of eight only.
From a student to a tutor
Given György Lakatos’ salient talent, at the age of 12 he was invited to the Junior School for Talents at the Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest. His sustained work had well paid off and after a few years he could continue his studies as a music academy student, under the guidance of the highly respected tutors András Kiss and Miklós Szenthelyi. Today he works as a master teacher at the Snétberger Center for Music Talents. In 2013 he was awarded First Prize and the Best Performer Trophy in the adult category at the American Protégé International Music Talent Competition in New York.
Born on Christmas Eve….
The idea of a Mass in Lovari language first was raised after a Christmas Mass held in the St. Stephen’s Basilica. György Lakatos recalls the episode of the invitation: “Cardinal, Primate Péter Erdő, whom I’m in contact with since his inauguration, and who has already invited me for many-many ecclesiastical and secular events to perform, said to me: ‘Some parts of the Bible has already been translated into Lovari language. In preparation for the International Eucharistic Congress I would like to have these texts set into music as well’.”
The Cardinal asked the violinist to present a classical composition, in which the typical elements and identity of both the gypsy and the Hungarian music appear. A year had passed and the work was completed. György Lakatos was mandated to prepare the premiere as well. Although the World Premiere had to be postponed on account of the COVID pandemic, finally on September 1, 2021 the melodies of the Lovari Mass will be on show for the first time.
György Lakatos picked and brought together excellent musicians. The 23 years old Patrik Gergő Oláh became the composer of the Lovari language Mass. The young talent was born in Salgótarján, Hungary, and started his music studies in violin at the age of seven in his home city. His passion for composing appeared almost the very same time. During his secondary school studies he enrolled himself in the Sugár Rezső Composition Competition, where he became a second place winner. “That was the moment when I realised that composing music is my real path.” – said the young talent. In 2017 Patrik Gergő Oláh was accepted as a student to the Liszt Music Academy’s Composition Department. To be a student in the class of Professor Gyula Fekete, Head of the Composition Department and Deputy Rector turned out to be another milestone in his life.
A notable talent
Patrik Gergő Oláh’s first international success arrived when he was still a fresher at the Music Academy, winning the first prize of the Buda Castle Beethoven Composers’ Competition. This prize was followed by several other national and international awards, just to mention the Béla Bartók World Competition, where he was picked into the Top 12.
Performance in front of 45 thousand people
The 2017 Sziget Festival in Budapest brought a new opportunity, and the young musician played as concertmaster of the Sziget Symphony Orchestra. From the next year on he became the artistic director of the said Orchestra and became involved in the organisation of its Festival performances as well. “The 2019 Sziget Festival enabled me to undergo one of the most determining experiences of my life. I was given the chance to perform in front of an audience of 45 thousand on the Festival’s Main Stage, where we stood up against school bullying together with Drew Dolaz, an American dancer, who already had a proven record of working together with stars such as Madonna, Skrillex or Rihanna.”
A historical moment
Patrik Gergő Oláh considers music composition and the dissemination of the Roma culture as a vocation. Currently he is a Master Class student at the Liszt Music Academy, Budapest. His composition, the first Lovari language Mass of the music history will be on show at the International Eucharistic Congress. The basic music elements of the composition are the vocal and instrumental gypsy music. The freshly translated liturgy text has been accepted by Pope Francis.
A choir with a history of two decades
Performers of the Lovari Mass Premiere include the Downtown Franciscan Cantorate, conducted by Mónika Kecskés choirmaster, Church Music director and organ artist of the Downtown Franciscan Church. The Cantorate’s history goes back to 2002, when at Advent the Schola Cappella Mariana was set up by music lovers, music teachers, and musicians. The Greccio Chamberchoir made up the Cantorate’s other ensemble, and the two were performing together at exceptional events. In 2017, on their 15th anniversary they were renamed to Downtown Franciscan Cantorate. In 2011 the ensemble was awarded Silver Prize at the Musica Sacra Bratislava International Competition. They have released numerous albums, amidst the one having been recorded for Franz Liszt’s 200th birth anniversary.
Grazioso: Let ourselves love the string chamber music
The Grazioso Chamber Orchestra of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra will also be amongst the Lovari Mass performers. The Chamber Orchestra was formed in 2017 by members of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra with the aim to familiarise and endear the string chamber music as widely as possible. Zoltán Kocsis was appointed the first Grazioso art director, who followed the orchestra’s operation with special attention both as a conductor and pianist.
The founder of the Grazioso String Chamber Orchestra was Marcella M. Detvay, while as concertmaster a student, namely Ferenc Bangó, from the School for Exceptional Young Talents at the Liszt Music Academy was appointed. The violinist has already been awarded several prizes in national and international competitions. As from 1998 he is a member, while as from 2015 serves as concertmaster of the Hungarian National Philharmonic Orchestra. Since 2007 he has been acting also in the Grazioso Chamber Orchestra. Ferenc Bangó performs as concertmaster of the Solti Chamber Orchestra for twelve years by now, and as from 2014 a member of the world famous Kodály Quartet.
The thousand styles of an artist
The Liszt and Artisjus awarded cimbalom artist, Rózsa Farkas is also going to have a role in the „Le Devleske” World Premiere. She began her studies on the piano, and it happened by a mere coincidence that she changed instruments at the age of 12. She made her debut at the La Fenice Opera House, Venice, at the time when she was a second year student at the Bartók Conservatory. She was accompanied by her professor, Ágnes Szakály, with whom they currently form a cimbalom duo, by now with a great number of albums and radio recordings behind them. Besides the traditional classical music Rózsa Farkas has become familiar with the Hungarian and Balkan folk music, as well as with world music, however the coffeehouse gypsy music is also on her program repertoire. She performed in several national and international ensembles, and was a solo player of the 100 members Gypsy Orchestra for five years. She felt very comfortable in contemporary music as well, thus many compositions were made exclusively for her. Rózsa Farkas’ career has been recognised with several awards so far, including the Liszt and Artisjus Awards.
A voice from the bests
The Lovari Mass World Premier will let us hear further fantastic and talented singers: Nikoletta Szőke and Nikolasz Takács. The jazz songstress, Nikoletta Szőke won First Prize at the vocalists’ world contest at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and a Junior Prima Prize, while becoming an extremely popular jazz performer in Hungary. Ted Gioia ranks her amongst the best non-American origin jazz singers in his book “The State of Jazz Vocals Today.” In addition to Hungarian concert halls and festivals she has also achieved great success on the stages of New York, Tokyo, Brussels, Copenhagen, London and Berlin, co-starring Michel Legrand and Bobby McFerrin.
“Let the road take me”
She has released seven solo records so far, all leading the hit selling lists in Japan. The Grammy awarded Helik Hadar was the producer of her recent record, the Moonglow. We could hear Nikoletta Szőke’s first, and own Hungarian language composition the “Let the road take me” („Az út hadd vigyen”) in the spring of 2017 that has been continuously followed by newer and newer ones. Along the TV show “Dal 2021” (The Song 2021 TV show) she won the first selection with her own composition the “New Chance.” She is constantly on concert tours in and outside Hungary with her group the “Szőke Nikoletta Quartet”.
Nikolasz Takács is a 32-time platinum and gold record performer, and a multiple Fonogram Award nominee. The ‘guy in a hat’ has a great voice and has become nationwide known by a TV talent show. He started his musical studies at the State Conservatory of Bratislava, Slovakia at the faculty of classical singing and violin, which was followed by the jazz-singing course at the Musical Studio of Kőbánya, Budapest. He was 19 years old only when could already perform together with prominent musicians, the world famous jazz drummer Vilmos Jávori, Gyula Babos, Tony Lakatos, Charlie and János Solti, just to mention the most important ones. Nikolasz Takács’ fifth solo record was assisted by the Grammy-awarded Kirk Whalum, the smooth jazz saxophonist from the USA. Nikolasz Takács was born in Galánta (the then Czechoslovakia), and the hard work of his past four decades resulted in 7 solo records. He is extremely popular both in Hungary and abroad, moreover regularly performs in fully booked international festivals.
The harmony between the fantastic musicians and singers is ensured by a world famous conductor. The Maestro of the World Premier will be the Istanbul born Ertüngealp Alpaslan, the First Prize winner of the Mitropoulos International Conducting Competition in Athens in 2002. The Maestro currently lives and works in Hungary, and is internationally recognised as the prominent representative of the Hungarian Conductor Education. For twenty years he served as Associate Principal Conductor of the Szombathely Symphony Orchestra, Hungary, and assumed the position of Music Director of the Savaria Symphony Orchestra in 2006. He founded the Academia Hungarica Chamber Orchestra, the members of which were handpicked from the best Hungarian musicians. For a long decade the Chamber Orchestra was touring internationally only, and it was in 2013 that the Hungarian audience could hear them for the first time live at the inauguration event of the György Solti Chamber Opera Hall.
Though Ertüngealp Alpaslan was an outstanding pianist, his piano career came to a halt due to an accident in which his hands were badly injured. Thus he turned all his focus on conducting. He was awarded at the János Ferencsik International Conducting Competition and at the Prokofiev Conducting Competition in St. Petersburg in 1998 and 1999 respectively. He has already performed as Maestro of the most prestigious Hungarian and international orchestras. For a three years period he had the opportunity to work closely together with Claudio Abbado as his artistic assistant, thus was on stage with Abbado’s ensembles, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Luzern Festival Orchestra, La Scala Orchestra, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestra Mozart. Currently he is doing his studies at the Doctoral School of Philosophy at the University of Pécs, Hungary.
On September 1, as from 19,30 the audience of the St. Stephen’s Basilica can experience in person, with all eyes and ears, the “Roma Mass” World Premiere. On September 9, the melodies of the Mass are going to be played again at the HUNGEXPO.
Photo: Andrea Felvégi, Dávid Lukács