Serving as a bridge between Hungarian villages and people around the world, Zina Bozzay ("Boh-zah-ee") researches, teaches, performs, and arranges traditional Hungarian folk songs.
Born in San Francisco as the daughter of a Hungarian immigrant and trained by master Hungarian folk singers in Hungary, including Éva Fábián, Gergely Agócs, and Andrea Navratil, Zina has performed at the Táncháztalálkozó, Hungarian Heritage House, National Theatre, and Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. Soloist at the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Golden Festival in New York, and the Kárpátok 50th Anniversary Gala in Los Angeles, she is also a regularly invited singer, teacher, and presenter for Hungarian diaspora community events. She regularly visits last living village singers in various parts of the Carpathian Basin, to learn about their lives and their songs.
With her ensemble Vadalma, featuring violinist Matthew Szemela and cellist Misha Khalikulov, she creates innovative, intimate arrangements of these rich songs using both traditional and original accompaniment. Vadalma performs at a wide variety of venues around the US and Europe, from small local venues to big festivals, sharing this music with new audiences. Their debut album Music of Elderflowers was met with wide acclaim from master practitioners of the style, with CD release concerts in California, New York, Hungary, and Romania. Vadalma frequently collaborates and includes special guests, such as Agócs Gergely, Navratil Andrea, Enyedi-Salamon Quartet, Pendely Énekegyüttes, Berecz István, Dűvő, and Debreczeni-Kis Helga.
Zina founded the Hungarian Folk Singing Circle (Népdalkör) in San Francisco in 2010 to teach the traditional folk songs, which now offers class series, workshops, private coaching, and presentations in both English and Hungarian, with thousands of participants every year, coming from dozens of countries on six continents. She has taught across the US and Hungary, including at the Hungarian Heritage House, Magyar Zene Háza, ELTE, Fulbright Scholars, and the American International School (Budapest, HU), Rákoczi Szövetség camps (Sátoraljaújhely, HU), Freight & Salvage and Ashkenaz (Berkeley, CA), and Magtár Hungarian Cultural Alliance (Los Angeles, CA). Participants are beginners through professional singers, young children through older adults, with enormously diverse cultural, linguistic, and musical backgrounds. Coaching includes members of KITKA, Janam, Stellamara, Zhena Folk Chorus, Eszterlánc Hungarian Folk Ensemble, Tisza Ensemble, VOCO, and others.
Zina has worked on several of Hungary’s successful nominations to UNESCO’s Register of Intangible Cultural Heritage, gives lectures and presentations on this heritage, and has been supported by the Csoóri Sándor Fund, Halmos Béla Fund, Hungarian National Cultural Fund, Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Zellerbach Family Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Center for Cultural Innovation, SF Community Music Center, and the Creative Work Fund. At the Hungarian Heritage House, she serves as a Mentor to the musicians in the International Portfolio, and works on projects related to international audiences and accessibility.
Zina is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music with Honors, holds a Masters degree in Music Composition, and has the highest level of accreditation as an Advanced Hungarian Folk Singing Educator through the Hungarian government.