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The Concert for Tolerance showed that multiculturalism is alive and well in Košice, STV to broadcast the program on 19 May

2012. május 19. | MECEM - Slovakia

Košice 18 April (RPA) – The Concert for Tolerance, which was organized by the Roma Media Center (MECEM) and held at Košice’s House of Art, was attended by 700 spectators.”Košice is a multicultural city and art really does have a great power to bring people together. I consider it as a universal language and at the same time a good way to gain awareness about other cultures,” said Košice mayor Richard Raši immediately after the concert.

According to Santino Spinelli, such a celebration in honor of International Roma Day was unique in all of Europe. “It was excellent that so many Roma musicians representing different genres could find themselves next to one another on the same stage — from the classic perception of Roma music in the performance of the orchestra from the Romathan Theatre in cooperation with the Private Conservatorium in  Košice, through the very professional and interesting arrangements in the performance of The Bohemiens under the leadership of Barbora Botošová and the top-notch Latino-jazz represented by the Slovak-Hungarian band Gypsy Latino Jazz Band under the direction of Mário Richter and our own music in the Roma style.” The other performers and spectators did not hide their satisfaction either.

“Both Roma and non-Roma were sitting beside one another in the seats, along with representatives of national minorities, foreigners – migrants, representatives of companies and poor people from Roma settlements. They were able to enjoy good music together in performances by Roma musicians, and thus they found something that connects them,” said MECEM director Kristína Magdolenová, speaking for the concert organizers. In the opinion of many of the concert participants, the quality of the material for the “zero year” of the event was very high. In Magdolenová’s opinion it showed that this type of event has long been missing from Košice.

“The last big concert for Roma artists took place in Košice in 1928. Back then 15 bands from all of Czechoslovakia performed in Košice, and the reputation of the concert overshadowed all of the other cultural activities which were organized in the city at that time. Now, 84 years later, we decided to try it out again to see how the people of the city would respond under changed conditions after nearly a century. We were presently surprised by the high participation of all social and nationality groups. Many of the spectators said after the concert that we managed to pull off a concert of an unseen artistic level which in the future should become an inseparable part of the cultural life of Košice,” said Magdolenová.

The first year of the event should take place next year — on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of the legendary Košice concert of Roma music and at the same time as a contribution to the cultural life of the city in 2013, when Košice will be the European Capital of Culture. Magdolenová believes that after this introductory year many more supporters will be found among the businesses in Košice and its surroundings than there involved this year.

Top Roma artists from Slovakia, Hungary and Italy performed at the concert, which took place under the auspices of Maroš Šefčovič, vice-chairman of the European Commission, chairman of the Košice Self-Governing Region Zdenko Trebuľa and Košice city mayor Richard Raši. Performers included the musical ensemble The Bohémiens under the leadership of bandleader Barbora Botošová and the Slovak-Hungarian band Gypsy Latino Jazz Group under the leadership of Mário Richter. The main guest was Italian musical artist Santino Spinelli and his 28-member orchestra Alexian. Among the guests were former Slovak President Rudolf Schuster, Member of the European parliament Monika Smolková, Member of the Slovak parliament Peter Pollák, Vice-mayor of Košice Renáta Lenártová, representatives from sponsors and others.

The concert was supported by: the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic, the non-governmental organization Košice2013, the City of Košice, the Slovenska sporiteľna Foundation, the Kosit Foundation, the National Institute for the Development of Work and Social Communication, a number of non-governmental organizations from the Roma community, Kežmarok Television, the Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation in Slovakia and the Slovak Electric Company/Enel.

A television report about the concert is being prepared and will be broadcast on STV 2 on 19 May at 23:00 hrs. (after the Champions League final); a 26-minute report will also be broadcast during the Roma National Magazine on 3 May on STV2. In addition, the publication of a DVD is being prepared. On the occasion of the concert a special edition of Roma Letters was published in a print run of 10,000; this will given out free of charge at different institutions. Representatives of the Košice City Council are to receive a copy as are Members of the Slovak Parliament and others.

Photo: Performance of the musical ensemble Bohémiens under the leadership of bandleader Barbora Botošová

You’ll find more photographs from the Concert for Tolerance Košice 2012 on Facebook: Concert for Tolerance – Košice 15 April 2012 and the Concert for Tolerance – Košice 15 April 2012 – Part 2.

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