The band Söndörgő from Szentendre (HU), dedicated to South Slavic folk music, celebrated its 25th anniversary recently. It is renowned not only in Hungary but also on an international level. They still have to wait for playing in front of a huge audience, but they are also part of the Müpa Drive-in Cinema series, playing with another band Vujicsics and with special guests Márta Sebestyén, Kátya Tompos and László Tolcsvay. We talked to Áron Eredics, leader of the band.
How did you reflect on the 25th anniversary in May – did it make you think about your past and future?
The band birthday is the 11th of May. According to a calendar entry from 1995, we had our first rehearsal on that day. Because of lockdown, we were able to reflect very deeply on the last 25 years and what we want to reach in the future. Because we still weren’t able to play live in May, we had an online celebration event. Sitting together, everyone talked about what the bands means to them, and the audience could follow it online. We even addressed things that we don’t have time for at a concert. It was an interesting experience and the audience reacted very positively.
Why does the band have a new bassist?
Last October, our tambura bassist Attila Buzás, a founding member of the band, decided to quit. We had experienced a lot of pleasant things in the past 25 years, but Attila wants to go on different ways in the future, so we peacefully separated. Ábel Dénes joined us in December, and our work started very smoothly. Ábel is familiar with jazz and folk, so we can say that Söndörgő is now richer with a very talented musician’s fresh sound.
You planned a tour to celebrate the anniversary, but it was cancelled due to the pandemic. How could you still connect to your audience?
According to our tour diary, we should be in Germany now. We didn’t delete anything from there, so that we can see by the end of the year how 2020 should have been. Some days ago, we gave acoustic street music concerts in Szentendre, playing for our enjoyment, but also for local people’s. We are going to play in Vác as well, under similar conditions. We do what we can to keep making music, but there won’t be any tours for a while, unfortunately.
On 10th July, you and the Vujicsics will play with three guests. How do they connect to the band?
We were very happy when Müpa offered us this opportunity. Our guests are old friends. Kátya contributed to our album Lost Music of the Balkans, and we had a lot of tours together. It is a lovely feeling to play those songs of our repertoire that we played with her. Márta sang the title song on our 2006 album Oj javore – we know her through Vujicsics, so this concert in the Müpa will be a birthday summary on many levels when all the three of us will be on the same stage. And Laci Tolcsvay is also an old acquaintance whose songs can work very well with a tambura band.
I guess the rehearsals are very relaxed now, once you are finally together again.
It is such a great pleasure to meet again and play music together. The concert will be something new for us, with the audience in cars outside, so that we can’t see them. It will like a TV broadcast.
Not communicating with the audience must be a big change. How do you manage that?
We decided at the rehearsals that we will play in a big circle on the stage, so that we see each other better, and we don’t go in and out all the time. We will be audience for each other, so that we don’t have to feel any absence.
Will there be a new album soon?
As tours are cancelled, now we have plenty of time. We are working on the new album. We are going to record it in August and publish it next year. It’s a huge question whether there will be a second wave of the pandemic, and if yes, when. Until then, we plan to stream some of our previous concerts, recorded in front of an exclusive audience, online. Apart from that, we hope to have a series of at home concerts which we originally planned to launch in May. We hope the virus won’t mess up with us anymore and we will be able to play in front of a real audience very soon.
Interview: Zsolt Várkonyi
Translation: Zsófia Hacsek