Tony Ballog and his Gypsy Orchestra
Michigan Hungarian Roma ensemble
|Tony Ballog and his Gypsy Orchestra is a five-piece ensemble that performs Hungarian Gypsy music, [It is a heritage that dates back over 300 years, and the group] employing the traditional instrumentation of twin violins, viola, bass, and cymbalom. When the Hungarian Gypsies and other Hungarian immigrants settled in the greater Detroit area at the turn of the century, it was the Gypsies' music that helped to keep the "soul" of the old country alive in the New World. While once heard nightly in the area called Delray where most Hungarians lived, Gypsy music and song can still be heard at Hungarian restaurants and cultural clubs, and at weddings, parties and other community gatherings. The group features Dearborn, Michigan, resident Tony Ballog and Pittsburgh violinist George Batyi on twin fiddles. Both are of Hungarian Gypsy descent. Tony Ballog's family can trace back ten generations of string players. He started playing the violin at age 7, and learned traditional Gypsy music from his family. Tony also received classical training and went on to pursue a successful career as a symphony violinist. George Batyi has played with a variety of Serbian, Russian, and Hungarian folk groups; he was recently invited to tour in Slovakia. Tony's father Albert Ballog, a well-known performer in the Ohio/Michigan region, joins the group on viola (he also plays bass and cymbalom). Hungarian-born Jeno "Sügole" Paradi (bass) has performed with some of the most famous gypsy violinists in the world, including Lakatos [Shandor] Sandor. Laci Burai (cymbalom), also born in Hungary, studied with cymbalom masters in both Europe and the US.
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