21 Aug 2016

Notes From Transylvania: Preserving the Continuity of Traditions; Maramures August 2016.

The deep bellowing sounds of Maramures are projected into the moonlit sky. The astoundingly beautiful natural amphitheatre of ‘Sus Pe Bradova’ in the hills above the village of Barsana is sending messages from a concert fusing traditional and contemporary music.

This historic part of Transylvania is in insurgency. It is opposing the latest campaign to reach these ancient hills; the contemporary erosion of the area’s rural spirituality.

On a hillside above Barsana village in remote Maramures, (a district of northern Romania) Grigore Lese – regarded internationally as the leader of Romanian traditional and pastoral music - created an extraordinary event of musical theatre. 

The Festival of the 63 villages’ mission is not only to promote but to protect and preserve the role of Maramures as the beating heart of Romania’s peasant culture.

The Romanian Emperor Trajan immortalised Maramures’ resistance to outside forces’ attempts to dilute its proud independence by carving into a stone column the story of his adventures in the area – then known as Dacia- in the year 113 AD. That’s how long the baton has been held by the residents of the 63 villages: they continue to champion the way of life in this region, often referred to as ‘the greatest garden on earth.’

In experiencing the sounds and character of Maramures on a hillside deep in this garden, I feel a new resistance to global urbanisation. Slow and tranquil, the garden entices one’s soul to contemplate and reflect on life and purpose.

This festival is sending powerful messages to our urban centres, the deep sounds of Maramures emanating from these hills are calling to the senses. Senses that make us, as a people, feel connected to nature and our duty never to forsake its treasures.