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Kalyi Jag
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Kalyi Jag

"As a northeastern Hungarian Gypsy kid, I have dreamed big. Now, I live that dream."

Gusztáv Varga

(decorated with one of the highest Hungarian medals, the Knight’s Cross)

The group was founded at the end of August 1978 by young Roma lawyers, educators, and working-class origin musicians coming from the territory of northeastern Hungary.

There were several reasons for the foundation. On the one hand, it became necessary to make widely known the real, authentic Roma culture; on the other hand, to defeat negative opinions by fostering their mother tongue, since through the language of music everybody is understandable and everybody can be loved. Can more positive communication be transferred if the music of Kalyi Jag gets to knowledgeable human intelligence?

At the beginning, the group often played at workers' hostels, youth clubs, in camps, and culture houses. Gypsy language songs, the most original, most authentic genre of Gypsy folklore, were a great success.

The group's name spread like a raging fire through the country. This was the first group in the country and in Europe to perform its own folklore in their Roma mother tongue.

In 1979, the Parliament awarded the prize "Young Masters of Folk Art" to the group. From 1981, "Kalyi Jag" was already well-known in the great theatres, too. That year, the group had a tour in the Netherlands which was a historical event in Roma culture.

In 1982, the Hungarian Television, the Hungarian Radio, and the BBC prepared a 40-minute program with the group. By 1982, the group had 100 performances per year.

In 1983, records called "Folk art in Europe-Belgium" and "Who wants to be a piper" were made with the group. In 1983, the group won the national "Ki mit tud?" (What can you do?) competition with dancer Béla Balogh, winner of the "Golden Spur" and Young Master of Folk Art prizes. The audience in Cuba also enjoyed the music of the group that year, and the 5th anniversary was celebrated, which was filmed by Hungarian Television.

The group was invited to Japan, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, France, Finland, South Korea, Morocco, Denmark, Brazil, Poland, and also toured in Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Spain, India, Canada, New Zealand, Chicago, New York, Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Arizona, ...

In 1994, the European Youth Parliament, the One World Group, and Music Television awarded the European Prize to the group. The program was recorded by MTV, Euro Television, and was broadcast in the Far East and in the United States, too.

Kalyi Jag's work in 1996 proved that this is the only cultural endeavor which conquered several thousand people with its music. Each of their performances was visited by 10,000 people. Kalyi Jag received invitations from the Brooklyn Philharmonics and from the Chicago Symphonic Orchestra for the joint tour planned for the end of 1997-1999.

The years 2009, 2013, 2015 are milestones in Kalyi Jag's oeuvre. The present members of the group are: founder: Gusztav Varga, vocals, guitar, oral bass, dance. Gusztav Varga is a special kind of genius... his performance is breathtaking and inimitable with perfect intonation, impeccable tempo; in short, he is an incredible virtuoso. His songs are narratives about fate and destiny, love, mutually coming across the only one, cheating, and sorrow. His music is live, passionate, and candid. It helps us live and survive.

They learned to sing and dance Gypsy style from early childhood on. Every musician in Kalyi Jag Band perfectly knows by themselves that just being talented is not enough in today's world. Total success can only be reached by commitment, devotion, and sacrifice besides essential talent. The time has come for them to fulfill a beautiful dream to sing under Kalyi Jag's wings. The outstanding vocal quality, excellent arrangements, and special musical force are all together considered the so-called Kalyi Jag's style.

Kalyi Jag's performance is always followed by great success and satisfaction from both the organizers' and the audience's sides. Their concerts are always very professional and because of their personalities and charismatic appearances, make it very entertaining as well.

Kalyi Jag's Band of music is authentic and primeval, engaging in merriment with tears, pressed by unbelievable energies, percolating down into one's soul. The third decade in the life of the group is featured by a new album, which is going to be in the record shops soon. Gusztav Varga has created a musical, the Roma Legend, written and composed by himself. For the first time, this musical puts on show the unique history of the Gypsy people, their culture, myth, and migration, with original music and spectacular dances.

To give a new dimension to the Gypsy band's success story, we set up the Kalyi Jag Arts Management Company. The new activity was a logical follow-up of, not only the devoted work of the Kalyi Jag band but the Kalyi Jag Art High Schools as well. The school has been operating for more than 15 years. The schools bring up talents year by year, feeling great responsibility for these students' future and for the realization of their dreams.

We try to help the integration of the students with a disadvantageous background into the public education system. Kalyi Jag would like to provide them protection and a chance in today's world in order to lead a better life. The mission of the Kalyi Jag Arts Management is to preserve the authentic Hungarian Gypsy folklore by the songs and music, and to present this unique culture and its values to more and more people. Promoting gifted artists to live up to their talent and deliver the Roma culture to open ears and hearts through the art. Our aim is to develop long-term, conscious cultural programs, student exchange programs, with responsibility and engagement for providing equal social opportunity. We would like to prove that on the stage there is no majority or minority, only talent and inspiration exist. With the help of the Management arts activities, we would like to build the long-needed bridge between different cultures, arts, and people.

We would like to familiarize the Hungarian Roma situation and their unique and exotic culture, through our activities and cooperations.

"Some of these groups, like Kalyi Jag - Black Fire, led by Gusztav Varga - plow some of the fruits of their success back into educational projects to encourage younger Roma people to pick up the traditions that would otherwise be forgotten."

BBC News World Edition - by Paul Vickers, April 2000

In 1993, Mr. Gusztáv Varga started the Kalyi Jag Roma Nationality High School in Budapest, which helps to bring Roma into the mainstream educational system. The school admits children who have completed eight-year primary school. Most students are Roma, although according to Varga, there is a growing number of non-Roma pupils. The objective is to provide a two-year education to students aged 14–25 who have no vocational training or are not attending secondary schools of any kind. The school places special emphasis on identity and teaches students about Roma language and culture. Training courses for unemployed young Gypsies are also available in an effort to encourage them to become entrepreneurs, to obtain a basic degree in a foreign language, or learn to operate a computer. At present, the school has branches in Budapest as well as in Miskolc and Kalocsa. The schools are self-supporting, full of difficulties and financing problems. There are 800 students per year. We try to provide the essential ingredients needed for children to succeed in school: scholarships, school meals, school equipment... The financial support from the Government is not sufficient. Therefore, Kalyi Jag donates from its every profit min. 50% to support the schools and students, running expenses and in addition, we try to win tenders.

If you are interested in any of our projects, please do not hesitate to contact us:

H-Budapest, Bajza u. 53.
T/F: 00 36 1 374 0659, Mobile: +3620 498 2258

Mirtill Karacsonyi
Art Promoter - Vienna/Austria
T: +43 699 10321030

If you consider our activities useful and important, support us!

Name of Bank Account: Kalyi Jag RME
Number of Bank Account: 11763079-13036883
Bank Address: OTP Bank Hungary
IBAN: HU74 1176 3079 1303 6883 0000 0000

Thank you for your kind attention!

Kalyi Jag
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