Origins of the group – Zemplinski heligonkari (The Zemplin Button Accordion Ensemble)
The creator of the Zemplin Button Accordion Ensemle region was Pavol Hajnik - one of the members of "Vranovski heligonkari" (button accordion players of Vranov nad Topľou). Mgr. Alena Navrátilová, working at the Zemplin educational center (Zemplínske osvetové centrum), was a great help to him, and through teaming their efforts, the first ever meeting of accordion players from the region was organized. It was held on the 20th of January 2012 in the Zemplin Education Center Gallery in Michalovce, attended by JUDr. František Antonič, Pavol Hájnik, Michal Klima, Michal Kuca a Michal Pešta. Their primary intention was to get to know each other, to play together and to exchange experiences. The Zemplin Education Center became their first base. Attending regular weekly meetings and practising together quickly brought success - performances at various cultural events in Michalovce and the surrounding area. None of the original ensemble members imagined that this first meeting would lay the foundation of such a large community of friends of a beautiful folk song, presented by singing and playing the button accordion (heligonka).
The establishment of a civic association
The civic association Zemplínsky heligonkári was established on May 21, 2013 as the result of the activities and fulfillment of goals set by the 12 founding members of the association. i.e. to preserve the tradition of playing the button accordion and to organize folklore events / festivals with a thematic focus on the interpretation of the Zemplin folklore song accompanied by the button accordion. In the course of two years, the number of members has increased to 18 and currently the association brings together 28 members.
In the meantime, due to a bigger space requirement, practice meetings have been moved to the House of Matica Slovenska (Slovak Foundation) on Masarykova street, where they continue to meet with support and willingness.
Members of organizational team:
Mgr. Alena Navrátilová
Ing. Ján Romaník
Formation of the group – The Zemplin Button Accordion Ensemble
The level of playing and singing, accordion tuning, and family affiliation has led to a new phenomenon - the formation of smaller groups. These groups perform either individually or they perform jointly when there is a need for a larger performance . The first group formed is called Mihaľovski heligonkari led by Mgr. Ing. Dušan Skonc. The family of Branislav Sojka a the family of Ján Tirňák started to develop their activities in Sečovce. The family of Bálint - Samuel, Michael a Marián are working together in Parchovany and the family of Tuch - Ján, Stanislav a Tomáš in Falkušovce.
Zemplínski heligonkári released 3 CDs:
debut double CD Zemplínski heligonkári - folkore folk songs
CD Christmas with button accordion – Christmas carols
Project: Zemplínska heligónka
In 2014, the first year of the new festival, Zemplínska heligónka, was established and a new tradition was created to complement one of the missing mosaics of Zemplín festivals. The Mayor of the City Michalovce received the patronage of the festival. Zemplins Education Center as well as other urban institutions, with the financial support of the Ministry of Finance, and the local sponsors have become partners of the festival. The festival takes palce in the beginning of May in Michalovce, where the button accordion players from the Zemplin region, as well as guests from all over Slovakia, meet and perform in order to entertain their fans and admirers. The festival is also gaining the support and interest from button accordion players abroad.
Project: Christmas with heligónka
Since 2016, Zemplinski heligonkari have started to organize Christmas concerts. After a favorable reponse from the first Christmas concert at the Zemplin Educational Center, they moved their performances to a larger hall (MsKS in Michalovce) and regional churches.
Zemplinski heligonkari co-operate with:
- Vranovskí heligonkári
- Miloš Bobáň –Terchová – button accordion school
- FSkupina ROVINA – Dlhé Klčovo
- MSS (Men´s Folklore Group) Hnojňaňe z Mihaľovec
- FSk (Folklore Group) Harčare – Pozdišovce
- MSS Lučaňe – Lúčky
- FSk Parchovianka – Parchovany
- Mihaľovski nevesti i beťare – SZSP Michalovce
- Okresná organizácia Jednoty dôchodcov na Slovensku - Michalovce
- Festivals - Korytárky, Kojšov, Drienica, DMS House of Matica Slovenska Bardejov