The first and only bagpiping orchestra in Slovakia was formed in 2009 under the name Spojené Huky Slovenska (SHS). The group came to life thanks to a group of people who were curious how would a Slovak traditional bagpiping band compare to traditional Scottish military bagpiping bands often seen playing outside on streets. The leader of this group is a bagpiping master and an avid musical instruments maker Juraj Dufek.

Juraj is also the only permanent member of the band, as the number of other band members varies – it depends on who is available at the time of a scheduled performance. Members of SHS are not only from Slovakia, but also from Moravia and Silesia. These bagpipers are members of other music bands and ensembles, such as Gajdošskí trogári, Goluska, SĽUK, Páni času, Gymnik, FS Živel, Bosoráci z Piechova, Dudáci Tryhuci, Folk & Bass Orchestra, Roc´hann and others.

The band claims that the same set of musicians has never performed two times in a row. The name of the band is derived from the bass whistle of bagpipes called “huk” in professional terminology. It’s the unchangeable and blatant sound of the “huk” constantly hovering in the background which makes bagpipes what they are. Some people love it, some hate it, but nobody is left indifferent. Of the many types of bagpipes in Slovakia, members of the band have chosen a type with three drones (in keynote B) for its typical clear sound. Especially for this purpose Juraj Dufek has created louder and more stable bagpipes.

Later on, bagpipes in F and B bass were also added. The rhythmic section of their music features large drums and ozemuch (special Slovak music instrument). Initially, the members of the SHS came across various problems – most bagpipers in Slovakia were soloists with different styles of play. The band tries to unify playing styles of its members at their rehearsals, which is, however, not an easy task. The repertoire includes compositions from different regions of Slovakia, as well as melodies from the production of Anna Szirmay-Keczer and a mixture of bagpiping songs from various Slavic countries. Although attempts to create a comprehensive musical body of soloists have been successful all over Europe, even in neighboring Poland and Hungary, SHS is the first attempt in Slovakia. The band performed at festivals in Slovakia, Czech Republic, Poland, Croatia and Asturias.

If you are interested in beautiful, rich and powerful Slovak bagpiping music, which is also registered in the list of UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage, come and enjoy SHS at their opening concert at the World Music Festival Bratislava on Friday, September 14, at Summer Reading Room at the Red Crayfish.