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Scholarship Recipients

Iroquois Springs 2016: Valerie Sylvester

By Valerie Sylvester, Spring 2017
Valerie Sylvester

Valerie Sylvester

Location: Toronto, Ontario

Occupation: I’m a professional violinist. I play with a lot of orchestras and small ensembles and with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra. I also play Baroque violin, bass viola da gamba, and violin in an early jazz band.

Connection to Balkan music/dance: I dance with a Macedonian performing group called Zdravec and also go to international folkdance evenings whenever I can. I am also trying to learn the kaval.

Number of times at Balkan camp: This was my first time at camp.

Studied at camp: I didn’t really have a main focus at camp—I did Bulgarian singing, played kaval in the Macedonian village band, and took dancing and beginning gudulka. I wanted to do even more. The frustration of not being able to do everything never left me the whole time there!

Memorable moment at camp: I LOVED every minute of camp, so it’s hard to pin down one thing. I was impressed to see how many people were there at the evening dance and, before I adjusted to camp’s unique no-sleep time zone, amazed at the crowds at the kafana. I loved the intensity and familiarity of everyone’s connection to Balkan music and dance. But most of all, my mind keeps going back to the wonderful image of people practicing on cabin front porches in full hearing of other groups practicing different music on neighboring porches . . . while others sat on the steps enjoying it or taking a nap. Total chaos but passionate chaos!

© 2014 East European Folklife Center