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    Fondat 2009 • ISSN 2065 - 4200 Anul 14 → 2022

    The “Long Road to the Merry Cemetery” Festival, edition 7 – 14-21 August 2016

    Primit pentru publicare: 19 iunie 2016
    Autor: Peter HURLEY
    Publicat: 20 iunie 2016
    Publicare realizată cu sprijinul d-lui Tudor PETCU şi FNDC (
    (Prin cultură şi educaţie să contribuim la dezvoltarea comunităţii)


    The “Long Road to the Merry Cemetery” Festival


    In July 1993, I stood on a hilltop in the far west of Ireland. As far as I could see, tiny stone fields stretched to the horizon, separated by countless white stone walls. Here and there, small piles, where a cottage had once stood. There was a great silence. Slowly I realized I was seeing the fossilised remains of a once densely inhabited rural community, long since vanished, its bones a silent testimony.

    I never imagined that I would see the living equivalent. Ten years later, on an August morning in 2003, I crested Stefania’s Hill, “Dealul Stefanitei” and saw for the first time the County of Maramures. “The greatest garden on earth…” stretched into the distance: a patchwork quilt of green fields, each a slightly different shade, depending on how and when the grass had been cut, if the mower had been left or right-handed. Some fields had haystacks, in others cut grass was drying in neat rows. Each field carried the fingerprint of those who tended it. All shimmered in the morning dew. And as I discovered, they were alive. I started to appreciate this extraordinary creation, the primordial village.

    The last villagers of Europe live in the land that is today called Romania. The living village is a concept that this project supports. Why? “When the last peasant dies, so too will humankind.” Thus said the 20th-century Romanian philosopher, Petre Tutea.

    I asked a group of students: “Can anyone tell me why living villages are important?” A young girl put up her hand: “Because that’s where everything started”. How beautiful. In our morally bankrupt society, original villages are perennial reference points, spiritual wishing wells, places we can charge our souls, like a compass indicating true North.

    The village is a complex social organism that developed over centuries. Relationships between families, codes of conduct, rituals, customs, traditions, all directly connected to the passing of the seasons. The religious and agrarian calendars are at the centre of village life. Marking both, man is the timekeeper, following daily rituals that shape his life and generate integrity.

    This living treasure is more valuable than gold. It offers spiritual nourishment to those who appreciate it.

    Seven years ago we started the project called „Drumul Lung”, „the Long Road”.

    Now that project enters a new phase.


    Festival programme

    The Long Road to the Merry Cemetery – edition 7 – 14-21 August 2016

    We prepare a series of interactions which will take place from 14-21 August – we could call them micro-journeys – designed for people with different and specific interests, connected by a common purpose: discovery and appreciation of the living village culture.

    We want to communicate this programme to and invite a specific public: people searching for enriching experiences, for information and education, for memorable moments of beauty and joy, for them and their families. It’s hard to offer guarantees. Like all good journeys, the key word is adventure.

    The project has four components:


    1. The Festival of the Villages from the Land of Maramures – 14-20 August

    Each of the 63 villages in “the Land of Maramures” is invited to prepare at least one micro-event during the period 14-21 august. A garden party, a day trip by horse-drawn cart to the sheepfold, a cross-country walking tour along ancient footpaths, a story-telling campfire session, a village dance.

    The emphasis is on local people, local music, local food, all unplugged.

    The Feast of the Assumption, “Adormirea Maicii Domnului” (15th August), is the fourth most important event in the church calendar. It is a national holiday in Romania. On the evening of Sunday 14th August, all churches will have special evening ceremonies, called the “Prohod”, a funeral mass for the Mother of Christ. Many churches have wonderful village choirs who on this evening will sing special hymns for the Virgin Mother. The most beautiful of these choirs will be marked in the week’s calendar and visitors are invited to participate.

    At the monastery of Moisei, there is a centuries-old pilgrimage, submitted to become a UNESCO World Heritage. Thousands of people walk all day from their villages to gather at this all-night vigil, from Sunday to Monday, one of the most impressive events in Orthodoxy. Wonderful male choirs will sing an all-night mass con-celebrated by dozens of priests.

    Visitors can connect directly with the Parish Priests of the communities which will leave by minibus or coach, some by foot, from their parishes to the Monastery of Moisei on Sunday 14th August, arriving evening and remaining all night at the liturgy.

    All micro-events will be placed in an online calendar. Visitors can access the latest information, find directions, search accommodation, contact friends, offer feedback and recommendations.

    Maramures stretches over 150 kms from east to west. No one is expected to get to all micro-events. The idea is to never be far from a number of micro-events in close proximity to each other over a number of days.

    One of the first micro-events to be announced is in the village of Valeni. A group of culturally active people from Valeni have restarted the tradition of cultivating hemp, which is used to make clothing and ropes. The seeding took place in April and the harvesting will take place on 16th August. Visitors are invited to a pre-harvesting party on the 15th August and to participate in the harvesting on the 16th. They have just prepared this lovely video of the seeding process:

    1. “The Mos Pupaza Summer School” – Valea Stejarului Village – 14-20 August

    scoaladevaramospupazaMos Pupaza was a much-loved peasant leader and renowned woodworking craftsman who passed away suddenly on 3rd January 2016 at the age of 80.

    Meet Mos Pupaza in following link, minute 26:00 – 30:00

    In his honour, his family and friends are inaugurating the “Mos Pupaza Summer School” for living traditions in his home village, Valea Stejarului, literally “the Valley of the Oaks”.

    Just as the “Festival of the Villages” gives the flavor of a number of villages over several days, so the “Mos Pupaza Summer School” is a pedagogical project for those staying in the same village for the entire week, deepening their appreciation of this ancient living tradition, digging into specific aspects of the village culture.

    Students of all ages will stay with local people in the village (or in bed & breakfast accommodation in neighbouring Vadu Izei).

    The overall concept is: learn each morning your specialization; rehearse in the afternoon; put into practice each evening. The structure is:

    – Sunday 14th August – 8:30pm –solemn opening concert by Grigore Lese from around the old wooden church of Valea Stejarului, surrounded by the public on the grass on the candlelit hillside cemetery

    – Monday 15th August – mass for Saint Mary’s Day; graveside eulogy and bagpipe recital for Mos Pupaza; lunch in the parish hall and official opening ceremony; key-note opening speech by Prof Dr Corneliu Ioan Bucur, former director of the Astra Museum in Sibiu and founder of the Romanian Academy of Traditional Art. Conference Grigore Lese: “Folklore – where to?”; village dance.

    – Tuesday 16th – Saturday 20th August – 10am-1pm daily classes by specialization, small groups: „ceteras” (traditional fiddle), „zongura” (traditional guitar*), „dobas” (traditional percussion*), pipe (traditional flute), bagpipe*, separate classes for traditional female and male singing*; separate classes for traditional crafts: woodcarving in the workshop of Mos Pupaza, wooden cross carving, weaving /knitting /sewing /embroidery; cheesemaking and haymaking workshop. (*no experience necessary)

    – Tuesday 16th – Saturday 20th August – 2:30pm-4pm and 4:30pm-6pm – daily afternoon conferences and seminars with villagers, with experts on traditional music, musicology, ethnography, the history of Maramures (with simultaneous translation into English);

    – Tuesday 16th – Saturday 20th August – 8pm: theatre piece “Authentic Romania” (Monday), every evening traditional music recitals; followed by campfire where students practice the songs and dances learned during the day

    – Daily nature walks;

    – Tuesday 16th – Saturday 20th August – Mircea Florian will conduct a kinetic-sculpture workshop, producing a traditionally inspired creation

    – Saturday 20th August – 6pm-8pm closing recital and speeches

    Participation fee: 200 lei / 40 Euros per person for the week. 100 lei for students. No charge for children under 16 years with at least one parent registered.

    Accommodation: Fully serviced bed and breakfast accommodation (with ensuite bathroom) is available in nearby Vadu Izei village with a daily pick-up to Valea Stejarului.

    A limited number of spaces may be available with families in the village for one-week’s accommodation available only to enrolled course participants. No en-suite bathrooms available. Accommodation could be in a bedroom, on a campbed, on the couch, in homes with bathroom. Tent space available with access to bathroom facilities.

    A non-refundable booking deposit of 50% is required to secure a reservation. First come, first served.

    Meals: Meals will be prepared in the community hall daily (10 lei / 3 euros per meal).

    Attention artists! During the week, there will be a painting camp. The project offers materials and two canvasses for pre-registered participants. There are no tuition sessions and there is no participation fee. The same accommodation conditions apply. All paintings remain the property of artists who may enter their work in a subsequent exhibition which may take place in Maramures, Cluj and Bucharest until the year’s end. Information and bookings: Cristina Rettegi – 0740-337-536 –; Emanuel Marginean – 0753.587.570 –

    Valea Stejarului has no mobile signal in any telephone network. Locals often have wireless internet at home.

    Information and bookings for summer school:
    Romanian speaking:                 Delia Pop;           tel: +40.745.226.922
    English speaking:     Peter Hurley   ;      tel: +40.766.311.353

    Extension in Sapanta Village – 16-20 August

    Sapanta has the strongest tradition for weaving, ceremonial clothing and fabrics preparation in Maramures. There are more sheep in Sapanta than in any other village.

    Maria Zapca from Sapanta, one of the leading national personalities of the craft, will lead a small team of local ladies who will open their homes to visitors for the week. Visitors are welcome daily.

    Listen to Maria Zapca in the following link, minute 49:25 – 52:00

    That week there are a limited number of places available for ladies who wish to go deeper alongside Maria Zapca and the local ladies. Each day, Sapanta’s leading embroidery specialists will work from Maria’s house and guide participants through the secrets of this fine art. See the following link, minute 34:50 – 36:45

    Maria will set up 4 looms. There will be daily workshops in “zgardania” (traditional jewelry), knitting, and other special ceremonial fabrics. All stages of the fabrics preparation process will be demonstrated, explained and taught: carding wool, spinning wool, preparing the loom, weaving, sewing etc.

    For men and boys, there will be visits to the sheepfold for a cheese-making workshop, a haymaking workshop, and access to the Merry Cemetery cross-making and blacksmith’s workshops.

    Evening micro-events are planned throughout the week in Sapanta.

    Note: The final closing event of the festival will take place in Sapanta on Sunday 21st August.

    Participation fee: 200 lei / 40 Euros per person for the week. 100 lei for students. No charge for children under 16 years with at least one parent registered.

    Meals: Meals will be prepared together with participants. Children are very welcome at no extra charge.

    Information and bookings:
    Romanian speaking:                 Maria Zapca   ;         tel: +40.744.212.954
    English speaking:     Peter Hurley   ;      tel: +40.766.311.353

    Extension in Hoteni Village – 16-19 August

    Grupul Iza is the leading Maramures traditional music group. Established in 1988, its members have included the greatest names of Maramures traditional music, including Mos Pupaza himself. It is based in the village of Hoteni.

    This week the group’s leader Ioan Pop opens his home to experienced musicians who are interested in spending the week alongside Grupul Iza in a masterclass to learn: „cetera” (traditional fiddle), „zongura” (traditional guitar), „doba” (traditional percussion), traditional double bass and “braci” (3-stringed vioara), “tilinca”, “caval” (traditional flutes), “doina” (traditional female singing) and “strigaturi” (male singing).

    See Ioan Pop in the following link, minute 45:20 – 49:00

    The workshop will be four days: Tuesday 16th August to Friday 19th August inclusive.

    The location is the traditional farmhouse of Ioan Pop in the village of Hoteni, a true cultural centre of excellence for Maramures traditional music.

    This workshop is specifically intended as a masterclass for accomplished musicians to introduce them to the Maramures “taraf” (traditional string trio). The Group will perform at weddings on Tuesday 16th, Wednesday 17th and Thursday 18th August. Workshop attendees are invited to join the weddings to practice what they learned during the day.

    Accommodation will be with local families arranged on a on a case-by-case basis. A non-refundable booking deposit of 50% is required to secure accommodation.

    There is a tuition fee of 200 lei / 40 Euros per person for the week. Discounts are available upon application. Places must be booked in advance. No charge for children under 16 years with at least one parent registered.

    Meals will be prepared in the home daily. Children are very welcome at no extra charge.

    Information and bookings:
    Romanian speaking:                 Ioan Pop;                                 tel: +40.722.979.048
    English speaking:     Peter Hurley   ;      tel: +40.766.311.353

    1. “The Sus pe Bradova Concerts” – Barsana Village – Wednesday 17 – Saturday 20 August

    The only amplified events in the programme take place on the evenings of Wednesday 17th, Thursday 18th, Friday 19th and Saturday 20th August.

    The location is “Sus pe Bradova” in the village of Barsana. This is one of Maramures’ most spectacular locations accessible by surfaced road. 4kms above the village of Barsana is a natural amphitheatre where an uncovered wooden stage will be erected on a freshly mown polifloral meadow, overlooking a fabulous view of Maramures.

    The objective of “The Sus pe Bradova Concerts” is to deliver to an urban youth audience an unprecedented quadruple dose of outstanding traditional conceptual treatments. Each evening features a headline act:

    Wednesday 17th August – “Nicu Covaci and the Archaic Rock project”. In 1963, Nicu Covaci formed his first rock band. In the early 1970’s his band Phoenix invented Romanian ethno-rock and became living legends of the flower-power era. Support act: Adhoc.

    Thursday 18th August – “Subcarpati under the full moon”. At the absolute cutting edge of deep traditional and urban electro, Subcarpati is digging deep to reach the heavens. You’ve never stretched out on the grass and watched the full moon rise listening to Subcarpati?! With a new album scheduled for release in summer, this is the concert of the year.

    Support acts: “The Deep Sound of Maramures” with Peter Pap, and the legendary Mircea Florian with DJ Vasile.

    Friday 19th August – Grupul Iza and “Roots Revival Romania” – 7 traditional musicians from 7 different countries meet in Maramures for 7 days to incubate an intercultural interpretation of the “Doina” traditional female lamentation, and take to the stage “Sus pe Bradova” with Maramures legends, “Grupul Iza” for the premiere.

    Saturday 20th August – “Grigore Lese and his guests”. The undisputed leader of the traditional music movement in Romania, Mr Grigore Lese closes “The Concerts Sus pe Bradova” series taking us right back to the origins of pastoral music.

    The hosts of “Sus pe Bradova” are the Bentza Brothers, twin brothers Ion and Ilie, who’ve lived there all their lives, and who have played traditional music together for over 55 years!

    Meet the Bentza Brothers “Sus pe Bradova” in the following link, minute 01:43 – 04:27

    Every evening the Bentza Brothers and the people of Barsana will host an acoustic after-party on the hill.

    Neighbours with the Bentza’s on the hilltop, is the restaurant of Irina and Vasile Stirb with 3 hectares of camping, WC and showers.

    1. “The Long Road to the Merry Cemetery” – Sapanta Village – Sunday 21 August

    The final event of the week is on Sunday 21st August: when all 63 villages of the Land of Maramures are invited to send a representation to Sapanta.

    The proposal is to create a village garden party, with a pedestrianised circuit of unplugged micro-event garden parties in the gardens around the Merry Cemetery, each garden hosting a number of villages from Maramures, each bringing their music, food and personalities. Guided by a simple printed map, the village of Sapanta becomes the rendezvous for friendships that were forged at micro-events during the week.

    Lend a hand…

    Spread the word! This is a cultural act, not a commercial project. Success depends on personal recommendations. Please think who might appreciate this message and forward it to them.

    Come! Support the villagers. Vote for them, with your time, with your opinions. Vote for them with what you wear, what you eat, what music you listen to, what you teach your children.

    Donate! If you appreciate what we do, help keep us going.

    Partner! Brands benefit when they help memorable things happen.

    Nr. inreg. Judecatoria Sector 3 – 19/23.03.2011; CIF  28297573
    IBAN:  RO94 BACX 0000 0006 1404 5000 (RON) / RO67 BACX 0000 0006 1404 5001 (EUR)

    Presedintele: Peter Hurley
    tel: +40.744.649.687; +40.766.311.353
    facebook: peter damian hurley

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