Ottawa was very lucky to have had the opportunity to host and attend one of Marian Bango's concerts as part of his brief tour of Canada's Slovak communities.
The opening song – my favourite Slovak song – was a tribute to the beauty found in Slovak nature. 'The most beautiful corner in the whole wide world' is a song many generations yet to come will always appreciate for its simplicity yet sincere description of how fortunate we are to be from a picturesque country like Slovakia.
During the concert, Milan Popik from the Slovak community in Toronto was narrating Marian Bango's performance in between songs. I grew up with my grandmother and to this day I recall her teaching me the importance of those two magical phrases, 'please' and 'thank you.' Hearing Marian Bango's challenging life story reminded us again of just how indispensable those words are in our everyday life, helping us truly appreciate what we are getting but also what we are giving.
He sang for us in several languages, Slovak and Italian among others and the non-Slovak members of the crowd appreciated his version of 'New York, New York' as well as a bilingual rendition of 'My way'. Applause, as he likes to say, is bandage on the wounds he has received in his life. When clapping after each and every one of his songs, I have a feeling we were celebrating not just the pleasure of hearing a gifted singer perform but also Marian's ability to continue smiling in tough times and get up when others would remain lying on the ground, pitying themselves.
His love for music gave him courage to sing for others and it is through his talent that he is able to spread the joy and appreciation for the simple things in life among people and his fans. 'Conte partiro' resonated the most strongly with me because inevitably, I associate this beautiful piece of music with the departure of loved ones. I have noticed that there were several eyes in the audience that did not stay dry during this one, including mine.
The name of the concert, Tribute to Humanity, really encompassed what this talented baritone singer from Slovakia can do with his magical voice – not only is he able to see and sing with his heart, but his singing has the power to touch others' hearts and souls.
Text: Maria Habanikova, photos: Tibor Dej