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May 31, 2012

An appreciative record audience of over 80 people got a treat on the Upper East Side on May 31, as the beautiful hall of the Czech Center was filled with Roma tunes from different parts of Europe: the north (Finland), the center (Czech) and the south (Spain).

Petra Gelbart, who runs the Roma Music Department at NYU, had assembled a group performing Czech and Slovak Roma music: Ivan Gyokeni on violin and Rafael Rosa on guitar, with herself handling voice, piano and guitar; her two young children participated as well to everyone’s delight.

The second part consisted of Anette Åkerlund from Helsinki, who is soon to graduate from the renowned Sibelius Academy’s Folk Music Department. After singing a cappella a medley of Gypsy tunes from Finland in Romani and Finnish, she invited her mother Tuula on stage, and the two harmonized on several songs written by the Finnish Roma, accompanied by Sanna Valvanne on piano. In the last part, Anette was joined on stage by two Argentinian musicians, Cristian Puig on flamenco guitar and Sol, La Argentinita whose passionate flamenco song and dance drew multiple bravos and vigorous applause. We highly recommend following these talented New York based musicians to their next performance, and if you are in Finland, take note of the Åkerlunds!

The concert was cosponsored by the Czech Center, and we thank them for excellent cooperation! Support was received by Central Commission for Art (Finland) , Finlandia Foundation National Trust, and Suomi-seura.

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