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Foreign bagpipers at Slovak carnival

THE GAJ-DOŠSKÉ Fašiangy (Bagpipers’ Carnival) in Malá Lehota in Žarnovica district took place for the 24th time this year. Apart from Slovak musicians, foreign bagpipers from Scotland, the Czech Republic and Hungary also attended. The festival began on March 2 at schools in Nová Baňa, with concerts for students, and with screenings of documentary films about bagpipers. Later, a ball and contest of carnival masks took place in Malá Lehota, along with the opening of an exhibition of artworks focusing on the carnival as well as a concert for children.

THE GAJ-DOŠSKÉ Fašiangy (Bagpipers’ Carnival) in Malá Lehota in Žarnovica district took place for the 24th time this year. Apart from Slovak musicians, foreign bagpipers from Scotland, the Czech Republic and Hungary also attended. The festival began on March 2 at schools in Nová Baňa, with concerts for students, and with screenings of documentary films about bagpipers. Later, a ball and contest of carnival masks took place in Malá Lehota, along with the opening of an exhibition of artworks focusing on the carnival as well as a concert for children.

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 held 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 for the local audience.

The bagpipers’ festival takes place in Malá Lehota on the last Friday before Ash Wednesday each year, according to the Catholic calendar. Following 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 20 bagpipe-makers. The pipers’ ages go from seven to 70 so the future of this instrument in Slovakia seems bright.


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