"Wings of Gipsy" Festival Takes Off|
Roma, or gypsies as they're sometimes known, are known for their talent as
musicians. This week the city of Pilsen plays host to a new festival
showcasing Roma music. We sent reporter Ilya Marritz, who found out they
aren't making songs the way they used to.
It's the opening Morning of the first ever Wings of Gipsy festival in
Pilsen. I'm standing just outside the main doors of the House of Culture,
and the hall is packed with members of Pilsen's Roma community, and with
school groups. That's because this is the first day of the festival is
dedicated to young performers and young people. And if these performers
are anything to go by, the new generation of Roma musicians is forsaking
brass bands and stomp-your feet music for pop and hip hop
10 year old Stepan and 13 year old Martin perform under the name Beat Box.
As they strut around the stage wearing oversized tracksuits and gold
jewelry, they look like rappers from a music video who've been
mysteriously shrunken into the bodies of pre-adolescents.
Appearances aside, their skill is impressive. Consider that the only
instruments the boys of Beatbox use are their own mouths.
The crowd goes crazy for Stepan and Martin, which is encouragement to 22
year old Michal Miko, a Roma from nearby Rokycany.
"The point for this festival was there in Pilsen is very big
community of skinheads and the Roma in Pilsen are attacking by them so it
was try to do this festival...I hope that the majority will be know
something about the Romany culture, will be know something about the
Romany language, will be know something about the Roma history...because
when when you are in school you cannot learn something from bookcases
because there is no information about Roma!"
Marketa from Pilsen: "Czech people white and Rom? I think that isn't
good. Many white Czech people hate them. I think that it's good this
action because Czech people can realize that they are normal people."
For this fifteen year old performer, anyway, it's normal to sing pop songs
in the Roma language.
"I'm Vera Berkyova. These days I sing, and I think I'll keep singing
until the end of my life. Of course I sing Roma songs in addition to pop
ballads, but I'm better able to perform songs from the artists I grew up
with. Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, my idols then and now. But of course
I am a Roma and I'd never deny my Roma heritage."
The "Wings of Gypsy Festival" continues through Saturday at
Pilsen's Kulturni Dum, or House of Culture.