A group of tourists in Budapest, Hungary, were left in awe on Saturday evening when folk singer Andrea Gerák surprised them with a Hungarian rendition of ‘Calon Lân’ in honour of St David’s Day.
Admiring the view from the city’s iconic Fisherman’s Bastion, Ms. Gerák performed the first part of the song in Hungarian, before she switched to Welsh for the well-known chorus.
The artist recorded the experiment as a powerful message of Welsh-Hungarian friendship ahead of Wales’ national day, but was not expecting much of an audience.
Ms. Gerák said: “When I finished the song and wanted to say a few words to the camera, the applause took me by surprise. I turned around and saw that a crowd of tourists had gathered to listen.”
“It was an absolute pleasure to bring Welsh music to the heart of the Hungarian capital, and to immerse myself in this wonderful culture. I hope to visit Wales one day and sing Calon Lân among the hills of Snowdonia and on the bustling streets of Cardiff!”
The Hungarian singer’s video of the spontaneous performance near Buda Castle was published on St David’s Day by Welsh-Hungarian information hub Magyar Cymru, capturing the excitement of tourists from all over the world as they heard the hymn for the first time.
The song choice was rather convenient as Wales commemorates the centenary of the death of Calon Lân’s writer, Daniel James ‘Gwyrosydd’, this month. The Calon Lân Society of Treboeth near Swansea was set up to promote and preserve the heritage of the hymn in 2020 and beyond.
Sam Pritchard from The Calon Lân Society said: “We are absolutely delighted to see the hard work and dedication that has been shown to translate Calon Lân into Hungarian. This is a fantastic example of the song being a great international anthem. Not reserved for just Wales but sang by peoples of all nationalities and backgrounds.
“Calon Lân is a hymn that is close to the heart of any Welsh person, and is seen by many as Wales’ second anthem. While it has been translated into English, it is still mostly sung in the original Welsh. We would like to pay tribute to Ms. Gerák and everyone in Hungary who has helped to bring this together!”
Despite never having visited Wales, folk singer Andrea Gerák reached out to Magyar Cymru last month as she was keen to add Welsh-language music to her repertoire.
Thanks to members of the Welsh-Hungarian community, the lyrics were translated into Hungarian for her to sing ahead of St David’s Day and the global Wales Week celebrations.
In recent years, Welsh expats in Budapest have organised several events for St David’s Day, welcoming hundreds of guests from both countries. Last year’s celebrations even featured a range of exclusive cocktails for the occasion, such as the Penderyn Sour and the Bards of Wales.
Meanwhile in Wales, Hungarian and Welsh families are set to gather at the Urdd Hall of the Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday 14 March, for Cardiff’s annual Welsh-Hungarian Concert.
The event will feature performers including baritone Richard Parry, award-winning Welsh folk singer Mia Peace, acclaimed Hungarian pianist Katalin Zsubrits and Hungarian schools from across South Wales. The concert is free to attend and will commence at 3pm.
Notes to editors:
Andrea Gerák is an acclaimed folk singer from Hungary. Being multilingual, Ms. Gerák regularly performs in Turkish, Bulgarian, Czech, Swedish and other languages. She takes the listener to other lands as well, even to such exotic places as the Solomon Islands, with traditional, acapella or world fusion interpretations.
Besides solo shows, Andrea Gerák is one half of the Fililibi Projekt (alongside Ágnes Kutas), and has performed with Hungarian folk bands such as the Barozda from Transylvania. Her unmistakable voice has been used in other genres too – ambient, contemporary projects or soundtracks; jazz standards, musicals and pop songs can be also found in her repertoire.