Collegium Gabrielense early music and dance ensemble



On the first Renaissance Bethlen Day in 2019, the need arose to celebrate the ensemble’s 30th anniversary by compiling a commemorative album. This year’s commemorative year is also a milestone in the life of the ensemble: thirty years of continuous renewal and continuous activity. We are commemorating this anniversary, and in this commemoration, there is strength and witness. It is a wise knowledge of that which hovers high above human struggles: the joy of life, the vitality of community. The most significant achievement of the ensemble’s thirty years of activity is that it exists, and in this way succeeds in conveying an eternal value to students of old and present. In the context of the ensemble’s rescue of values, cultural activities have survived that serve both to nurture the talents of the students and to promote cultural socialisation. Over the years, the students who have been involved in the ensemble have learnt and adopted a way of life in which community activities provide a framework for the preservation of traditions, cultural development and personal development. The emotional experience of the actions offered a unique opportunity to develop creativity, the ability to cooperate, the practice of empathy and solidarity, and to foster a sense of belonging to the community. Our commemorative album seeks to piece together these shards of memory with the aim of serving as an example for future generations. Shards of memory , as we take stock of the events of the past thirty years, without claiming to be exhaustive, and then the former team members give their testimonies about their years in the ensemble. We believe that the young people who have been or will be members of our ensemble will become deeply sensitive people, sensitive to music and culture. Seeing them multiply, we trust that the rehabilitation of culture will happen one day.

A reminder of the past:

The Bethlen Gábor College Aiud in 1992. Using materials from various donations, our school’s enthusiastic drawing teacher – Erdőháti Katalin and teacher Tomai Gyöngyi sewed wonderful period costumes for all the members of the group. The Illyés Public Foundation provided financial support for the purchase of instruments for the early music ensemble.

For a long time, we got our knowledge from the Amaryllis Club under the auspices of the Corvineum Foundation. The professional leaders of the Aiud group were  László Bakk Áron, Tóth Mária and  Filip Ignác, who undertook the music and dance training, ran several camps in Aiud and accompanied our group to the summer camp in Soltvadkert.

Several times we travelled to Cluj-Napoca to participate in the Renaissance Dance Festival organised by the Amaryllis Club. On such occasions, the Aiud group was also given special attention and taught new dances.

The founding members of the ensemble are mostly young teachers, who have put in the hard work to enrich their knowledge and give others an uplifting experience through their performances. These young people loved Renaissance music and dance. The weekly rehearsals organised by Tomai Gyöngyi and Piroska Demény were a pleasant and useful diversion for all of them. The group has become a real small community, a community that cherishes the values of Renaissance culture and occasionally passes them on. Many of the old members are now adults, playing and dancing in famous early music ensembles or leading their own groups (Dobai Jutka in Barót, Demeter Tünde and Kiss Huba in Oradea).

Every school year, the “ageing” (about to graduate) members of the ensemble took special care of the young generation: they passed on their skills and knowledge at special rehearsals and camps. This is how our ensemble has been able to constantly renew itself and remain young. Only the two enthusiastic leaders, Tomai Gyöngyi and Demény Piroska, remained as the founding members. Since 2000, Szabó Anikó – a member of the Passamezzo ensemble from Cluj-Napoca – has been visiting us on a monthly basis to pass on her knowledge to the enthusiastic little team from Aiud. Our wardrobe has also expanded over time, so now there is also period clothing for the younger ones.

Every year, the Collegium Gabrielense of Aiud entertained the people of Aiud, the faculty and students of the College with at least two high-quality performances. The ensemble is a special highlight in the daily life of the town of Aiud, as we always accept invitations to perform, thus enhancing the reputation of our school.

Most successful presentations:

In 1993 the Balassi show,

In 1994, the Renaissance afternoon,

In 1995 the Renaissance Christmas,

In 1996, some members of the ensemble performed in France.

On 8 June 1996 we organised a Renaissance evening in the courtyard of the Castle Church. Our guests were the Collegium ensemble from Carei (conducted by Deák Ender) and the Amaryllis from Cluj-Napoca (conducted by László Bakk Anikó).


Since 1996, the ensemble has been guests of the Zugló Children’s Camp in Soltvadkert every summer, where they can prepare for the coming year in a ten-day free camp.

In the autumn of 1996, our ensemble performed as guests in Soltvadkert on the occasion of the millennial Hungarian school and the anniversary of the Hungarian occupation.

On 18 October 1997 we celebrated the 375th anniversary of the Bethlen Gábor College. On this occasion, the Collegium Gabrielense Early Music Ensemble organised a Jubilee Fair in the courtyard of the Castle Church. The fair was opened by the Intrada (solemn entry) of the early music ensemble. On entering the gate, guests were greeted with an interesting invitation: all current coins are invalid in this area during the fair. Only ducats (coins made of clay) are accepted at the fair. So all visitors had to go to the money changers at the entrance first: 1 ducat to RON 2,000 . There were stalls selling roast pork, scones, apple juice, fruit, trinkets and flowers, all made by students dressed in period costumes. Every half hour, they could watch a circus of our school’s elite athletes, try their luck on the wheel of fortune, in the arrow field, on the nutcracker, in  tournaments. If they felt like seeing into the future, they could visit our fortune-telling gypsy women. Our runic writer and portrait painter served the guests until late in the evening. Bethlen Gábor and his times were brought to life on the occasional stage of the Castle Court by the Collegium Gabrielense. Our guests on this day were the ensembles Amaryllis from Cluj-Napoca and Codex from Sfântu Gheorghe. The Renaissance dance was also a great success, with the three early music ensembles. The Renaissance day was rounded off with a period dinner, where game and fish, and what under the sky was a feast for the eyes and the palate, were served in period costumes by our students. It was a real team effort!


In 1998, our ensemble was a guest in Medgyes, where we performed 14th-16th century dances in the Italian Renaissance courtyard of the Schuller House, at the naming ceremony of the Báthory István Elementary School.

On 11.VI.1998 they say goodbye to the ensemble:


The 15th of March 1998 was celebrated in Soltvadkert, where the members of our ensemble presented their dances at a street ball.


In the autumn of 1999 we were guests in Bonyha.

On 11 June 1999, they say goodbye to the ensemble:


The ensemble’s “attendance diary”: a record of the musicians and dancers who attend rehearsals:

On 6 June 2000, they say goodbye to the ensemble:

In October 2000, we inaugurated our young members at the College’s Millennium celebrations. The older members gave a high-quality performance for their younger counterparts, and delighted the audience at the same time.

24-27 May 2001 – Bethlen Days were organised for the first time in Aiud. On this occasion, the School Museum was completed and opened in the ceremonial gardens. Collegium Gabrielense, an early music and dance ensemble, was also present. A combined team of young and old created a good atmosphere with a music and dance show on the improvised stage of the cheerful Spring Fair. The past, present and future plans of the ensemble were also reported on this occasion on Radio Cluj-Napoca.

10-20 July 2001 – Early Music Camp in Aiud, made possible by an application to the Illyés Public Foundation by Demény Piroska, Filip Ignác, Tóth Mari and Fülöp Csilla. During the camp, we participated in the Millennium Rally in Cluj- Napoca.

In May 2002, the Garabonciás Ensemble from Budapest performed in Aiud under the direction of Váradi István. At a performance in the courtyard of the Castle Church, the people of Aiud also demonstrated their skills. On this occasion we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the ensemble.

On 6 June 2002, they say goodbye to the ensemble:


In the spring of 2003 our ensemble is invited by the Garabonciás ensemble to perform in Budapest.

February 29, 2004, Cluj-Napoca: we participated in a dance competition, where the title of the best contra dancer went to our team.


November 2004. Egyed Emese, head of the Hungarian Literature Department at the Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj- Napoca, recalls the memory of Balassi Bálint. The members of the Early Music Ensemble will also help in the commemoration, recalling the Renaissance with their dances.

February 2005 Gyula: our ensemble participated together with the ones from Cluj- Napoca in the Renaissance carnival parade in Gyula, organized a dance and a play house.

13-15 May 2005: a special highlight of the Bethlen Days was the high-quality performance of the Collegium Gabrielense ensemble, presented by the X. D teachers’ training students. The story of Sleeping Beauty was performed with Renaissance dances and puppets. They earned the audience’s applause with their breath-taking performance and coordinated acting.

Between May 6-8, 2005, in Cluj-Napoca, within the framework of the Days of Old Arts, we took part in the Renaissance Sleeping Beauty Dance Competition, organized by the Gheorghe Dima Music Academy, the Municipal House of Culture, the German Forum and the Passamezzo Historical Ensemble.

Between 14-17 July 2005, the traditional Early Music Festival was held in Miercurea. With the help of the historical ensemble Passamezzo from Cluj-Napoca, we were able to attend this event. Our programme was developed, rehearsed and performed together with Passamezzo. We presented a Renaissance dance and music performance of One Wonderful Night, based on the fairy tale Cinderella, which was a great success.

For the tenth time, a meeting of the wandering souls was held in the heart of the motherland, in Budapest, from 26 June to 5 July 2005. The main patron of the meeting of young Hungarians from beyond the borders was Göncz Árpádné, who brought together participants from some 16 countries. The Collegium Gabrielense ensemble was also invited to this jubilee Guest in Budapest. Members of the historical dance ensemble Passamezzo from Cluj- Napoca took part in the large-scale event.

The members of the ensemble are: directors Tomai Gyöngyi and Demény Piroska, dance teacher Szabó Anikó, dancers Kónya Mónika, Simon Katalin, Maxim Orsolya, Varga Gergő, Demény Zoltán, Tellár Izabella, Vernes Katalin, Varga Ágnes, Demény, Ágnes, Szabó Katalin, Szabó Koppány, Tűri Attia, Katona Örs.


On 23-24 September 2006, our school hosted the ” National Opening Ceremony of the Reformed Secondary Schools “. In the framework of this event, a photographic exhibition entitled “Close-ups of Barcsay Jenő” was opened, which included a performance by the Collegium Gabrielense early music and dance ensemble, giving the guests a glimpse of the colourful and atmospheric cultural activities of our students.

On 12 May 2007, on the occasion of the Bethlen Days, the ensemble provided the atmosphere for the “Ki szívét osztja szét” Castle Play, directed by teacher Fórika Éva, for the 800th anniversary of the birth of St. Elisabeth of Árpád House.

Over the years, the ensemble has grown younger with new members. Graduating students have been replaced by new ones. Most of the new dancers are girls in training, but some of the girls from high school have joined the ensemble.

In spring 2008, Demény Piroska moved to Cluj-Napoca, where she continued her work at the Babes-Bolyai University. She was replaced by Kónya Mária. Teacher Tomai Gyöngyike and teacher Kónya Mária continued to direct the dance ensemble.

In November 2009, we participated in the commemoration of the death of Bethlen Gábor in Marosillye.

At the renovated Veres Bastion, 22 dancers entertained the audience with 16th and 17th century dances.

On the 15th of March 2010, on the occasion of our National Day, the ensemble performed Renaissance Hungarian dances in the hall of the college as part of the cultural programme.

On 26 February 2011, the Collegium Gabrielense Renaissance Dance Ensemble was invited to the gala evening of the 450th anniversary of the Lévay Reformed High School in Miskolc.

The invitation was followed by a serious preparation, as we had the opportunity to perform in what is considered the first stone theatre in the history of Hungarian theatre (the first was the stone theatre in Cluj-Napoca).

On 2 April 2011, the group received another honour. We were invited to Cluj-Napoca, to the festive reopening of the restored statue of Matthias, where our ensemble provided the festive programme.


On 30 May 2011, the ensemble performed Renaissance dances at the 2nd Hunyad County Hungarian Days in the Bethlen Gábor Parliament Hall of the Vajdahunyad Castle.

On 16 June 2011, the ensemble danced at the inauguration ceremony of the renovated canteen, which was attended by Ft. Kató Béla, Bishop of the Transylvanian Reformed Diocese,  Répás Zsuzsanna, Secretary of State for National Policy of the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Office, Brendus Réka, Head of Department, and Sógor Csaba MEP.


Between 23-29 September 2011 the Cultural Society for Southern Transylvania organised the 5th Renaissance Castle Festival.

The festival was opened by the Codex ensemble from Chisinau in the Castle Church in Aiud. The Collégium Gabrielense performed again in Marosillye, on the stage at the birthplace of Bethlen Gábor, at the Veres Bastion.

The Bethlen Gábor Foundation’s Talent Workshop in Aiud supported the renovation of the ensemble’s wardrobe and the purchase of new instruments with winning applications. It is currently supporting the operation of the ensemble.

In 2012, the Collegium Gabrielense early music ensemble was re-established with the support of Filip Ignác Csaba (the director of the Codex early music ensemble). Its members are enthusiastic, music-loving students and teachers of our school. Its main objective is to study and promote medieval and Renaissance music. The ensemble’s repertoire includes sacred and secular, vocal (singing) and instrumental works, Renaissance Italian, German, English and Hungarian dances, but they also like to take a trip into the Baroque period, performing virtuoso pieces as well as popular melodies of the period.

Most often they play in a block flute, violin, guitar, drums formation, trying to present all members of the flute family, from sopranino to alto flute to bass flute. The majority of the dance pieces are accompanied by tambourine and tambourine drums, creating a real medieval atmosphere. In addition to playing instruments, the members of the ensemble also enjoy singing suitable Renaissance pieces.

The list of musicians and singers: FLUTE: Soprano Achim Emese, Szőcs Tímea, Bajka Laura Katinka, Csegezi Katalin, Ferencz Boglárka, Fodor Andrea Rozália, Fülöp Evelin, Köble Andrea. Alto: Bőjte Emőke, Molnár Júlia, Szőcs Noémi. Tenor: Tomai Gyöngyi (teacher). Bass and soprano: Kelemen Ferenc (teacher), Szabó Zsombor (teacher). GUITAR: Gáspár Bálint, Lőrincz Dávid, Szabó Huba, Szőcs Tamás, Szilágyi Róbert (teacher). VIOLIN: Kónya Előd, Zudor Mátyás. DRUM, TRIANGULUM: Bódi Alpár, Papp Kinga. SINGERS: Aitonian Tanja, Basa Johanna, Dénes Júlia, Kánya Magdolna, Köble Andrea, László Aletta, Szakács Anita, Vass Aletta, Fodor Brigitta (teacher), Lázár Emőke (teacher), Lőrincz Ildikó (teacher), Mester Ágnes Mária (teacher), Tályai Irén Stefánia (teacher). DIRECTORS: Kelemen Ferenc (teacher), Szabó Zsombor (teacher), Szilágyi Róbert (teacher), Tomai Gyöngyi (teacher).

In spring 2012, the orchestra made its debut at a ceremony in the Reformed Church of Marosgombás in memory of the late Székely Mihály, a college teacher and painter.


On 2 May 2012, we performed at the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the birth of Bod Péter in the Ceremonial Hall, with Hungarian and English period dances.

On June 9, 2012 we were invited to Cluj-Napoca for the Festive Book Week, where the ensemble performed in their new costumes on the stage in front of Matthias’s birthplace.

On 22 February 2013, a commemorative ceremony was organised at the Parliament in Budapest to mark the 400th anniversary of the election of Bethlen Gábor as Prince and the 391st anniversary of the College. The main patron of the event was the Speaker of the House, Kövér László. The performance of the Collegium Gabrielense was an exceptional event, as the Parliament had never hosted such an event before.

On 25 May 2013, the ensemble was invited to Barót, to the VI Medieval and Renaissance Days in the Forest Region. Most of the celebrations took place in the courtyard of the Daniel Castle in Vargyas, where dancers and musicians entertained the audience with pieces from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.


On 26 October 2013, we celebrated the 400th anniversary of the election of Bethlen Gábor as Prince in Alba Iulia, as part of the Alba County Hungarian Days. The script of the dance play ” Bethlen Gábor, Prince of Transylvania” was written by Kónya Mária, the choreographers are Szabó Anikó and  Juhász Csilla from Cluj-Napoca.

In November 2014, the ensembles had the opportunity to introduce themselves to their parents at the big parents’ meeting in the main hall of the College.

On 18 January 2015 the ensemble performed in Budapest at the House of Hungarian Culture on the occasion of the Hungarian Culture Day. The event was organised by the Palóc Society of the Highlands.

In spring 2015 we received an invitation from the Maltese Charity Service in Aiud. The presentation was held in the Roman Catholic cemetery.

At the beginning of June 2015, our ensemble performed 7 dances during the Renaissance Days in the courtyard of the Castle Church.

On 6 May 2015, at the invitation of the Liviu Rebreanu Culture House in Aiud and the 3rd Transylvanian Hungarian Culture Colloquium, we presented three 16th century dances to the audience in Aiud.

On 18 September 2016, the ensemble presented again its dance play “Bethlen Gábor, Prince of Transylvania”. The performance took place at the inauguration ceremony of the renovated College.


On 29 October 2017, at the invitation of the Kossuth Lajos Evangelical Primary School in Soltvadkert, the Hungarian sister school, the ensemble performed at the town’s Harvest Ball.


On November 4, 2017, he entertained the audience at the Harvest Ball in Aiud.


On 18 May 2019, the Renaissance Bethlen Day was organised for the first time in the hall of the College.

The renaissance atmosphere was provided by the new dancers of the ensemble, who managed to surprise the audience of students, teachers and city curious.

Invited guests were Dr. Demény Piroska teacher, Kónya Mária teacher and Tomai Gyöngyi teacher, who were the directors of the ensemble.

Retired teachers, old and new dancers joined in the nostalgic, reminiscent conversations.

The meeting was attended by the new director of the ensemble, Galambfalvi Angyalka and Gábor Ella, who took on the role of main organisers.

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