He is fascinated with poetry and prose reading, and singing and dancing
Mr. Andrej Demko, an engineering-technical services design and construction specialist (ITES), has an uncommon hobby among the steelmakers. He is fascinated with artistic reading of poetry and prose, singing and – until recently – also dancing. He has been spending time with his hobbies for years with excellent results at the nationwide level. But first things first.
As the veteran steelmaker says, everything began more than 40 years ago. He associated all his professional life – 34 years – with power engineering. With this we mean the projects he deals with, either as an employee of the Power Engineering Division, or since 2009 as an employee of ITES. “I grew up in Veľká Ida, where the leisure time activities included especially sport and folk culture. I used to play soccer and I think that I was good. Once after training, when I was around 16, we visited the local culture center where a local folk group called llosvai Selymes Péter was having a rehearsal. I was fascinated with what I saw, and the following year I went on playing soccer and took up dancing at the same time. However, it was impossible to harmonize these two hobbies, as the folk performances and soccer matches were often organized on the same day. Finally, jaundice resolved the problem. I had to spend 8 months without any movement, and after long consideration I chose folk,” Mr. Demko explains how he got into music, singing and dancing. “I thought naively that folk was a less demanding activity,” Mr. Demko adds with a smile. ”However, I don´t regret it, and I still play soccer even today.”
He danced and sang, and also carried out organizational work, for 15 years (in two periods) as chairman of the local Csemadok (the Hungarian Social and Cultural Association in Slovakia), 7 years as leader of the Ilosvai folk group (existing even today as a youth group) and 4 years as leader of the folk tradition group within the Csemadok local organization in Veľká Ida. “I always say that my cultural activities can be divided into three areas: organizational activities, artistic activities and performance, associated especially with reciting and singing,” Mr. Demko helps us understand his activities.
Love for recitation emerged during the elementary school. “My teacher was responsible for this as she brought me to the spoken word. I remember that in the seventh grade I fought my way to the regional round of a recitation competition. Later, in secondary school, I missed such leadership and I didn´t attend that type of competition. In spite of that, I liked recitation very much and I used to attend various events in our village. As a university student, I was contacted by the local Hungarian Thalia theatre to perform with them. However, I had all the exams to take so I was not interested,” he laughs. “In 2006 I found in “Új Szó” newspaper that the National Board of Csemadok was holding a poetry and prose recitation contest. It was already the 15th anniversary of the multi-round contest. I was 48. I won the district contest, then the regional contest and in the final in Rimavská Sobota I was third out of the twelve contestants.” He was encouraged and since then he has attended every poetry and prose celebration. “I like the atmosphere and domestic environment, and I´m getting feedback about what I´m doing, if it is good or bad. I think that I´m heading in a good direction so far,” he adds.
He tried poetry for several years, and as he is still looking for his limits, he tried to encounter other people in the area of prose reading. And even though the amateur contestants are not numerous – from 7 to 12 contestants from the whole of Slovakia – the competition is very strong. What does he present to the jury? “I choose short storiers, fairytales, anything that interests me. However, the folk stories are my favorite. I´m particular about my clothes, so costume is very important.” He achieved lifetime success last year, when he won in both contest categories (poetry and prose). But as he says, it is not his last word. And even though the organizers have changed the rules and each contestant can participate in only one category, Andrej Demko will still be among the reciters. He has chosen poetry.
The electrical engineer is similarly successful in the singing contests, especially in the nationwide folk music contest called “Purple Beautiful Rose”, organized every two years by the Hungarian Community Institute in Slovakia under the egis of the National Board of Csemadok. In 2013, Mr. Demko won a silver band in the final, in 2015 an extraordinary golden band and the right to represent Slovakia in the Carpathian Basin final in Hungary, in the “Vass Lajos” folk artistic contest . Six choirs from Slovakia, one zither player and a singer, Andrej Demko himself, will be attending this contest together with other contestants from Romania (Transylvania), Ukraine and Serbia. The contest will be held next year in Budapest. “It is the maximum I could achieve in this contest,” our colleague says. He spends his leisure time also with the “VOX COLUMBELLAE” (voice of dove) choir , based in Moldava nad Bodvou, where he currently lives. “Eighty percent of our repertoire consists of church songs and we sing them in Hungarian, Slovak, English and Latin,” explains Mr. Andrej Demko, a universal man.