ASTRA FOLK GROUP BACK FROM HUNGARY
The Astra Folk Group returned from Hungary last weekend after their nine-day tour of the central European country as special guests of Mr. Bela Danielisz, President of Commision of City-regulation for the General Assembly of the City of Budapest. During their stay, the group performed four times in different venues to delight audiences with their unique combination of dance and song that added a touch of Maltese culture to an already richly historical ambience.
Led by artistic director Anthony Zammit, the group was based in Siofok, a resort town on the shores of the famed Lake Balaton. From here they visited several towns and sights in the region, such as the ethnic German community of Pilisszentivan, the 18th century castle at Keszthely, and the Benedictine monastery at Veszprem, not to mention the magnificent city of Budapest.
The highlight of the tour was the performance in the beautifully ornate municipal theatre of Csepel district in Budapest, where they were warmly hosted by Mr. Bela Danielisz, President of Commision of City-regulation for the General Assembly of the City of Budapest. Throughout their stay the folk group took up the role of ambassadors of Maltese culture and distributed leaflets advertising the attractions of Malta and Gozo among audiences. In Pilisszentivan, the group received a particularly warm welcome by the Fire Brigade officers. This was a significant visit since the first contacts that eventually led to this tour were made between the fire brigades of Malta and of this Hungarian region.
Apart from their four official events, the folk group members gave several impromptu performances, sometimes joined by locals, that brought across their characteristically Maltese warmth and liveliness. Their generous hosts presented the visitors with several mementoes as tokens of their appreciation. As a final tribute, the group was taken on a tour of Budapest that included visits to the Parliament building, the Basilica of St Stephen, and an unforgettable evening cruise on the Danube.
This visit was another feather in the cap of this widely-travelled ensemble. It came about through the unstinting efforts of Mr Joe Borda Co-ordinator for the event Valletta -Budapest and his team who accompanied the group on its tour. The aim of this visit was a co-operation agreement between the cities of Valletta and Budapest, to promote Maltese culture and to pave the way for future prospects. Valletta Mayor Dr Alexei Dingli held bilateral talks with Mr. Bela Danielisz. The visit was also supported by the Minister for Gozo, the Minister for Education, Culture, Youth and Sports, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Public Dialogue and Information. Ties between the two countries were strengthened further when Mr Borda, himself a Knight of Malta, presented his host, Mr. Bela Danielisz, with attestation of the latter’s installation as a fellow member of this chivalric order. At the end of the visit Maltese and Hungarian delegates expressed their satisfaction with the tour and augured further cultural collaboration between the two countries.
Photos: Tonio Schembri | http://www.tonioschembri.com/Astra%20Folk%20Group