Gypsy, Roma & Traveller History Month: Empowerment through Culture

by Janos Lang, Creative Director of Ando Glaso

To mark Gypsy, Roma & Traveller History Month, Take One Action have teamed up with Ando Glaso to offer free access to ACASĂ, MY HOME – an arresting portrait of a Roma family forced to abandon their off-grid life for an uncertain future in the city. While Acasă, My Home grapples with the realities of oppression and state violence faced by Roma families, we also want to celebrate the role of culture – and especially music –  in empowering Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. The film is available for one week (5-12 June), at the end of which Ando Glaso will host a one-off online concert by Varkonyi Csibeszek (Rascals from Varkony), a group of young musicians created by the Common Vibe project. Common Vibe is a project in Hungary that connects children from deprived Roma communities of Ozd with professional musicians and opportunities, opening up the world for them. Below, Janos Lang (Creative Director of Ando Glaso) highlights the significance of music in Roma empowerment.

The music of Roma people, often regarded as Gypsy music, is not only one of their most important legacies but a significant component of our wider European cultural heritage. For centuries it has influenced some of our most important composers such as Haydn, Brahms, Liszt, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, Cecile Sharp and many more. Gypsy music and Roma musicians in general were always sought after for both village weddings and royal courts. The huge demand for the services of Roma musicians created many different genres of Gypsy music such as Flamenco, Magyar Nóta (Hungarian Song) or Gypsy Jazz to name a few. Roma musicians are regarded as extremely technical, skillful and creative players, whose unique style of playing is unparalleled. 

It is easy to see how such a demand and interest over the centuries in the talent and services of Roma musicians encouraged and supported their creativity, skills and development; resulting in a legacy that we should all cherish and nurture as an essential part of our European cultural heritage. 

In modern days the opportunities for Roma people to practice their traditional crafts have mostly vanished and rich Gypsy music traditions are being replaced by more modern trends. Even now, Roma people remain largely marginalized, often living in segregated ghettos and are a target for populist media and politics. We see similar trends in the UK and Roma people’s rich cultural heritage often remains an uncharted territory for Roma empowerment and inclusion.

At Ando Glaso we see the vicious circle of marginalisation/ghettoisation of Roma communities causing social and cultural deprivation that affects important aspects of Roma people’s lives from mental to financial wellbeing. We are aware of the important role that our own Roma heritage plays in revealing the truth of our past and shaping our future; we believe nurturing and showcasing this heritage is the key for our communities in the UK and beyond to flourish.

On Friday 25 June, Ando Glaso are launching a new platform – Opa! – dedicated to celebrating Roma music and culture. More information available soon here.

Acasă, My Home is available to watch between 5 – 12 June – book here.

The Várkonyi Csibészek concert will be broadcast at 6pm on Saturday 12 June – find out more here.