Winter Festival on the Danube: Performers and Collaborators

The Forras Hungarian Folk Band

The Forrás Hungarian Folk Band was formed in 1997. Since then it has grown to become a driving force in the Hungarian folk scene in North America. The ensemble plays traditional village music from Central Europe and its members have regularly studied with master musicians in Hungary and Transylvania. Forrás’ performances are both entertaining and educational as the players present the traditional lifestyle and work of the peasant musician. They have a broad repertoire accompanying dance troops, presenting musical concerts and the customary táncház (Hungarian folk dance parties).

Forrás prides itself in the authenticity of its music. Their work focuses on the acquisition, preservation and presentation of their Hungarian music heritage; their repertoire also includes music of Romanian and Romani (Gypsy) origin. They play stringed instruments such as violin, a Transylvanian chord viola called the kontra and double bass. Forrás also plays more unique instruments such as the furulya (shepherd’s flutes), duda(bagpipes) and ütőgardon (percussive cello).

Residing in Vancouver and Seattle the band performs regularly entertaining audiences across Canada and the US sharing stages with world acclaimed artists such as Téka, Márta Sebestyén, Muzsikás, and Dűvő. The ensemble has performed at prestigious festivals such as the Northwest Folklife Festival and the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival along with the North American Hungarian Festival, Western Canadian Hungarian Folk Festival and performed as special guests of the Hungarian Studies Program at Indiana University. Forrás has also been broadcast across Canada on radio and television.

Kisbetyárok Family Dancers

A performing group sponsored by the Hungarian American Association of Washington. Over 50 dancers of all ages, children and adults, meet each week to learn Hungarian dances. The group rehearses on Saturday mornings during the school year from 10 am to noon at the Phinney Neighborhood Center in Seattle. Rehearsals get very busy, but much is accomplished and having all ages together is a plus. Older students and parents get to help with the younger dancers and families have the opportunity to dance together! Careful attention is given to keep the dances and costumes authentic as possible, faithful to their village roots. Watch videos of the dancers here.

Eileen Soskin, Piano

Eileen Soskin recently retired to Whidbey Island after a 34-year career as an educator and performer. She earned her doctorate’s degree at the University of California at Berkeley, and taught music theory and analysis at several universities over the course of her career, as well as having served as an arts administrator. In addition to her work as a pianist and mezzo soprano, Soskin is well-known for her pre-concert lectures.

Gloria Ferry Brennan, Violin

Fourteen-year-old violin virtuoso Gloria Ferry-Brennan has been a local musician of some note since age 9 when she first played with Whidbey’s Saratoga Chamber Orchestra. She has since performed as a soloist with the Seattle Symphony, and the Ottawa Chamber Orchestra; she has won a national title and performed with world-class musician Elizabeth Pitcairn of the Red Violin fame.  See some of her performances here.

Dean Paton, Valse Cafe Orchestra

Dean Paton abandoned the baseball diamond for the dance hall in 1994, and fell so hopelessly in love with waltz that he founded the Valse Cafe Orchestra, an ensemble committed to the art of playing music for dancers. When he teaches rotary waltz, Dean stresses mastering the core of the dance – turning left, turning right, transitioning between the two — then helps dancers use this foundation as a platform on which to build organic, graceful movement as well as a few elegant moves.  Learn more about the Valse Cafe Orchestra here.


The Hungarian-American Association of Washington

The Hungarian American Association of Washington is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Hungarian heritage and to creating better understanding and appreciation of the Hungarian culture in the community.  Founded in 1984, the Association serves people of Hungarian descent and those interested in Hungarian culture with educational and social events.Learn more about the Hungarian-American Association of Washington here.

The Austrian-American Council, Washington State Chapter

The Austrian-American Council of North America is a not-for-profit organization which fosters good will and better understanding between the people of Austria and the United States. It sponsors and co-sponsors many Austrian cultural events such as concerts, recitals and exhibits,  Austrian artists and the arts, and supports many humanitarian causes world-wide.  Learn more about the organization here.

The Austria Club of Washington

The Austria Club of Washington is a non-profit, ethnic social organization consisting of members from all walks of life and nationalities.  Club members come from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, the United States, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and many other countries.  Many of them come to the club’s events because they enjoy dancing to the catchy tunes of talented Volksmusic bands such asHappy Hans, they like to listen to the songs of musical groups like the Alpenfolk or the Heimat Echo and watch the cheerful performances by dancing groups like the Enzian Schuhplattlers. Others come because they simply enjoy the company of other club members, they share experiences from travels to Europe, they exchange recipes of their favorite dishes and explore the taste of imported beers, American and European wines as well foods they rarely get at home.  Learn more about the Austria Club here.

Generous support for this event is provided by: