István “Szalonna” Pál and His Band


István “Szalonna” Pál and His Band
Photographer: Róbert Bácsi
Musician
The band's members are currently musicians with the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble. At their concerts, they play the most beautiful music of the Carpathian Basin: in addition to authentic folk music, they play folk arrangements of other tunes. In addition to their concerts aimed at cultural preservation, they also place great emphasis on folk music education. They regularly appear at Hungary's largest concert halls and festivals, and have also won great acclaim in guest performances across Europe and further abroad, having performed in Venezuela, India, Greece, England, Ukraine, Romania, Slovakia and the United States, among other countries. In 2006, they took part in the United Kingdom's gala event marking the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian revolution alongside such superb artists as Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons, pianist Tamás Vásáry and Grammy-winning folk singer Márta Sebestyén. In recent years, they have released three full-length albums: Örömzene (Joyful Music), Folk Music from the Carpathian Basin and Úton (On the Road). In 2007, they won the Prima Primissima audience prize together with the rest of the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble. Their programmes at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, the largest folk music festival in the world, were greeted with deafening applause each night. They have also appeared as the house band in the widely acclaimed (by critics and audiences alike) folk music talent show Fölszállott a páva (The Peacock).
The band's singer is Eszter Pál, a teacher at the Vác High School of Music who has also been named a “Young Master of Folk Art”. Band leader István Pál was distinguished with the Pro Cultura Hungarica award in 1992 and the title of Young Master of Folk Art in 1999, and in 2006 would go on to both win Hungarian Radio's eMeRTON Award and be selected as the Artisjus “performer of the year”. He received the Ferenc Liszt Award in 2015. Over recent years, he and three members of the band – Gyula Karacs, Róbert Doór and Tamás Gombai – have each received the Cross of Merit of the Republic of Hungary. The band's members consist of Eszter Pál (vocals), István “Szalonna” Pál (violin), Tamás Gombai (violin), Gyula Karacs (viola), Sándor Ürmös (cimbalom), Attila Gera (winds) and Róber Doór (double bass).