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Slovak Bagpipers’ Carnival attracts musicians including Scots

The Gajdošské Fašiangy (Bagpipers’ Carnival) festival in Malá Lehota in Žarnovica district took place for the 24th time this year. Apart from Slovak musicians, foreign bagpipers also attended, from Scotland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. The festival’s schedule began on March 2 at schools in Nová Baňa, with concerts for pupils, students and with screenings of documentary films about bagpipers.

Bagpipes Carnival in Malá Lehota, (Source: Sme-Vladimír Šimíček)

The Gajdošské Fašiangy (Bagpipers’ Carnival) festival in Malá Lehota in Žarnovica district took place for the 24th time this year. Apart from Slovak musicians, foreign bagpipers also attended, from Scotland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. The festival’s schedule began on March 2 at schools in Nová Baňa, with concerts for pupils, students and with screenings of documentary films about bagpipers.

On March 3, a ball and contest of carnival masks took place in Malá Lehota, at the local elementary and nursery school. On March 4, an exhibition of artworks focusing on the carnival opened, and a concert for children took place at the same school.

The highlight of the festival was the evening programme on March 4, called Gajdujte, Gajdence (Play, Bagpipes) in the Malá Lehota House of Culture. The evening culminated in a carnival ball. On Saturday, March 5, the Bagpipers’ Guild had a session in the nearby municipality of Veľká Lehota. The guild was founded by the long-time organiser of the Gajdošské Fašiangy, Bernard Garaj Jr. In the evening, a bagpipe concert was offered to audiences. The bagpipers’ festival takes place in Malá Lehota on the last Friday before Ash Wednesday each year, according to the Catholic calendar. Due to an ancient tradition, bagpipers go through the whole village, from door to door, playing and visiting their neighbours living in surrounding municipalities.

Bagpipers are among the oldest and most universal folklore instrumentalists. As theirs is a truly difficult and demanding instrument, they have often been judged the best musicians. In Europe, there are about 300 types of bagpipes which differ in tone, sound and construction, the TASR newswire wrote.

The festival was organised by the municipality, the Guild of Slovak Bagpipers and the Pohronie Educational Centre. Although in the past bagpipes were the most widespread and one of the most popular folk instruments in Malá Lehota, nowadays they tend to be played and produced elsewhere. Garaj told the Sme daily that partly thanks to the festival and other promotional activities, the number of Slovak bagpipers has risen from about ten to maybe 100, and that there are about twenty bagpipe-makers. The pipers’ ages vary from seven to 70; so the future of this instrument and its players in Slovakia seems bright.

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