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Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
March 24, 2008
DeKalb — Northern Illinois University will present the magical gypsy music of the Roby Lakatos Ensemble, direct from Brussels, Belgium, during a Thursday, April 3, concert in the auditorium of Altgeld Hall.
Lakatos is being brought to NIU as a result of a personal relationship with Myron E. Siegel, a member of the NIU Board of Trustees, and Siegel’s wife, internationally renowned artist Deborah Levy.
The concert, which begins at 5 p.m., also features Myriam Fuks, a Klezmer and Yiddish folk singer with performances on the big screen and stage. Admission is free.
“I have known Roby for over 10 years,” Siegel said. “Deborah and I were the only guests from the United States at his daughter’s wedding in Budapest last year.”
Gypsy violinist Lakatos is known as the “devils’ fiddler” and mixes classical and jazz music with Hungarian gypsy magic to produce a different sound.
Born in 1965 into the legendary family of gypsy violinists descended from Janos Bihari, “King of Gypsy Violinists,” Lakatos was introduced to music as a child. At the age of 9, he made his public debut as first violin in a gypsy band.
His musicianship evolved not only within his own family but also at the Béla Bartók Conservatory of Budapest, where he won the first prize for classical violin in 1984. Between 1986 and 1996, he and his ensemble delighted audiences at “Les Atéliers de la grande Ille” in Brussels, their musical home throughout this period.
He has collaborated with Vadim Repin and Stéphane Grappelli, and his playing was greatly admired by Sir Yehudi Menuhin, who always made a point of visiting the club in Brussels to hear Lakatos. In March 2004, Lakatos appeared to great acclaim with the London Symphony Orchestra in the orchestra’s “Genius of the Violin” festival alongside Maxim Vengerov.
Lakatos is not only a scorching virtuoso, playing 10 notes in the time it takes others to play just one, but a musician of extraordinary stylistic versatility.
Equally comfortable performing classical music as he is playing jazz and in his own Hungarian folk idiom, Lakatos is the rare musician who defies definition. He is a classical virtuoso, a jazz improviser, a composer and arranger, and a 19th-century throwback – and he is actually all of these things at once. He is the kind of universal musician so rarely encountered today, a player whose strength as an interpreter derives from his activities as an improviser and composer.
He has performed at the great halls and festivals of Europe, Asia and America with an incredible energy that music lovers of any genre will instantly love.
Accompanying Liatos are Lászlo Bóni as second violin, Jeno Lisztes on the Cimbalom, Laszlo Balogh on the guitar, Robert Fehér on the double bass and Frantisek Janoska on the piano.
They now tour the world with his ensemble and, on occasion, Fuks. In 2007, his tours took him to Chicago’s Grant Park where he thrilled more than 10,000 people with the magic of his gypsy violin.
Through her Klezmer Karma, Fuks sings the Yiddish blues with such songs as “Yiddishe Mama” and always with a story behind each song.
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