Gypsy violinist Roby Lakatos is often called a “devil’s fiddler.” In fact he is also a classical virtuoso, a jazz improviser, a composer and arranger, and a 19th-century throwback. He is equally comfortable performing classical music as he is playing jazz and in his own Hungarian folk idiom. He brings his unique ensemble to the State Theater in New Brunswick on Thursday, January 29, one day before they appear at Carnegie Hall.
Born in 1965 into the legendary family of gypsy violinists descended from Janos Bihari, “King of Gypsy Violinists,” Roby Lakatos was introduced to music as a child and at age nine he made his public debut as first violin in a gypsy band. His musicianship evolved not only within his own family but also at the Bela Bartok Conservatory of Budapest, where he won the first prize for classical violin in 1984. Between 1986 and 1996, he and his ensemble played for audiences at the club called “Les Ateliers de la Grande Ille” in Brussels, their musical home throughout this period. He has collaborated with Vadim Repin and Stephane Grappelli, and his playing was greatly admired by Sir Yehudi Menuhin, who always made a point of visiting the club in Brussels to hear Lakatos. In March, 2004, Lakatos appeared to great acclaim with the London Symphony Orchestra in the orchestra’s “Genius of the Violin” festival alongside Maxim Vengerov.
Just as Liszt, Brahms, and others used Hungarian overtones in their compositions, Lakatos offers a similar opportunity for modern audiences, exploring classics with gypsy roots.
Roby Lakatos Ensemble, State Theater, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. Thursday, January 29, 8 p.m. Gypsy violinist presents classical and jazz. $25 to $50. 732-246-7469 or www.StateTheatreNJ.org.