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The Good Life in Aggtelek National Park Part 103: Tractor Festival and Lyra Symphony Orchestra

lyra symfonia zenekarBódvaszilas seems to be becoming a local cultural hub this year. They have organised the annual cabbage festival and church concert for many years, but this July they also organised a tractor festival and classical concert.

After my weekly swim in Rakaca Lake with Irota EcoLodge operators Jeroen and Lennard, we ventured over to Bódavszilas to see what qualifies for a tractor festival here. We were too late for the local theatre production, but there were about 30 small-medium tractors parked all around the square by the Cultural House. Our friends Simon and Dori from Szögliget were also there, their kids Ema and Erik enjoying the tractor rides. Some local producers were also on hand, including the Kosik family from Bódvaszilas and their honey ( There was a fast food truck, but there was bodvaszilasi traktor talalkozonothing on offer for vegetarians - not even any French fries.

A week later we ran into Éva Gyarmati from Tornabarakony. Éva runs a small guest house and makes bobbin lace. However, we did not know that she also plays stand-up bass with the Lyra Symphony Orchestra from Debrecen. Due to the rain showers, the concert on July 15th was held in the Cultural House rather than originally planned outside in the manor house garden. At some urging we followed the gathered crowd up the hill to the garden to vote in the local geranium competition. Although I find them some of the most boring flowers, Hungarians adore their geraniums. Everyone received a voting slip and placed their votes in a box back down in the concert hall. It is a pity the weather was uncooperative, because the manor house garden is a beautiful, tranquil place.

The Cultural House was almost full as the orchestra filed in. The orchestra has been around since 1948, and under the direction of the current conductor József Balogh since 2012, and won the KÓTA (Hungarian Chorus, Orchestra and Folk Music Association) Award in 2014 for their production of the Chr.W.Gluck's opera: Orfeo ed Euridice.

I am not a big fan of classical music, but the evening was very enjoyable and of course I appreciate the effort orchestras and opera singers have been making in recent years to venture into the hinterlands of Borsod County.

Although not advertised, award winning opera soprano Xénia Sárközi also sang several pieces. We especially liked the third piece in the Telemann suite which was reminiscent of some Gyimes folk dance.

The set list was as follows, including two composers from Debrecen:

  • Haydn: B-dúr szimfónia - Menuetto
  • Telemann: La Lyra - selections
  • Mozart: Agnus Dei
  • Kocsár: Saltus Hungaricus I-II.
  • Massenet: Prelude
  • Catalani: La Wally - aria
  • Kéler: Bártfai emlék
  • Lehár: Giuditta belépője
  • Encore: Kodály: A csitári hegyek alatt

Dr. Pál Lieli also played a large part in an enjoyable evening, professionally introducing each piece with concise and interesting information.

Lyra is expected to make a reappearance in Bódvaszilas for the 5th time next year while celebrating their 70th anniversary.