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Thursday July 24, 2014
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Gypsy Spirit

 

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many of these traditions: exotic Turkish and Macedonian melodies, Spanish flamenco, Hungarian csárdás, fiery Bulgarian tunes, French jazz Á la Django Reinhardt (himself a Gypsy), and more.

Gypsy Spirit's tour guide through this enormous musical landscape is Kálmán Balogh. His ten-piece Gypsy orchestra includes bass, guitar, accordion, trumpet, clarinet, violins, a singer, and Balogh himself on cimbalom, a stringed instrument played with mallets. Depending on the type of mallets used, it can sound like a banjo, a grand piano, or a classical harp, and it's so percussive that no cimbalom band needs a drummer.

Classical composers from Bartk to Liszt to Stravinsky have written for the instrument, and Balogh has performed their works with symphonies all over the world. He is to the cimbalom what Joshua Bell is to the violin: there may be a few others who are as good, but there is probably no one better. In addition to his technical mastery, Balogh has also studied deeply the traditional folk and Gypsy music of his native Hungary and the Balkans. He was in Ann Arbor last year accompanying Muzsikás, the Hungarian folk band, in its joint concert with the Takács Quartet.

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