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JÁNOŠÍKOVE DNI FESTIVAL REVIVES FOLK HERO'S STORY THROUGH MUSIC

The Jánošík legend lives on

TERCHOVÁ, a quiet mountain hamlet under north Slovakia's Malá Fatra range, is believed to be the birthplace of Slovak folk hero Juraj Jánošík (1688-1713), a compassionate thief who, like Robin Hood, stole from the rich to give to the poor. His social conscience became an irritant to powerful people who had him sentenced to death, hung from a hook inserted under his ribs.
Terchová still honours Jánošík's spirit with a larger-than-life bronze statue rising above the modest local dwellings. A hike to the Jánošíkove diery (Janošík Holes) as well as a local pub bearing his name show how deeply the attachment runs. But for both villagers and tourists, the Jánošík spirit is most keenly felt during the first August weekend every year, the date of the Jánošíkove dni (Jánošík Days) folk music festival.


AMPHITHEATRE performance in Jánošík's hometown, Terchová.
photo:Courtesy of Rock Pop agency

TERCHOVÁ, a quiet mountain hamlet under north Slovakia's Malá Fatra range, is believed to be the birthplace of Slovak folk hero Juraj Jánošík (1688-1713), a compassionate thief who, like Robin Hood, stole from the rich to give to the poor. His social conscience became an irritant to powerful people who had him sentenced to death, hung from a hook inserted under his ribs.

Terchová still honours Jánošík's spirit with a larger-than-life bronze statue rising above the modest local dwellings. A hike to the Jánošíkove diery (Janošík Holes) as well as a local pub bearing his name show how deeply the attachment runs. But for both villagers and tourists, the Jánošík spirit is most keenly felt during the first August weekend every year, the date of the Jánošíkove dni (Jánošík Days) folk music festival.

Celebrated for four decades now, the festival, more one of music than dancing, has expanded from local acts to host also international bands performing traditional music on two stages. The festival's initial focus on pure folk music has also widened to incorporate other styles thought befitting the hero's legacy.

"We realised that listening to purely folk music during the entire three days can be a bit tiring, so we brought new styles into the festival - a bit of rock and a bit of folk-rock," says the festival's organiser, Pavel Daněk. "This symbiosis seems to work well."

Starting August 2, the festival opens with local Terchová musicians. However, since this year's annual marks the 40th anniversary of the meet, the organisers also invited the famous 'culture personalities' who were born in Terchová but since became scattered around the world. Dozens of such performances will be presented under the rubric 'What Terchová Gave to the World', beginning on Friday at 20:30.

Among them is the popular Slovak guitarist and singer Pavol Hammel. He will play with the Muchovci brothers, whose contemporary Terchová music has sold copies on four continents.

One of the most successful Slovak actresses, Anna Šišková, who received the Zlatý lev (Golden Lion) award for best women's role in a Czech movie in 1999, will take the stage with local talent Ján Patrnčiak. Opera singer Darina Kohút-Hanuliaková, who has lived in Switzerland since 1968, will sing in her homeland for the first time in 12 years.

The Friday block also involves performances by large ensembles, such as the Terchovský Junior String Orchestra with choir, and the Terchovský Junior Tuba Big Band with 35 tuba players.

Friday and Sunday evenings will culminate in folk entertainment, while Sunday morning will begin with a 'music mass' in the local church, and a horse and cart parade carrying musicians into the picturesque Vrátna valley.

"This symbol of hope and bravery during cruel times for the nation - the legendary Jánošík, after whom many places are named - will long live in people's minds," says historian Peter Cabadaj.

The Jánošíkove dni folk festival (August 2-4) takes place in Terchová village, north-west of Žilina. For more information check www.terchova.sk

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