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New and Notable

By Kef Times Staff, Winter 2015-16

New recordings and books by folks in the EEFC community. Names in bold type indicate EEFC Workshop campers, staff, teachers, and other EEFC supporters.

Bulgarian Harmony_coverBulgarian Harmony: In Village, Wedding, and Choral Music of the Last Century, by Kalin S. Kirilov. Surrey, England: Ashgate, 2015 (SOAS Musicology Series).

An in-depth study of the Bulgarian harmonic system is long overdue. More than two decades since the Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares choir was awarded a Grammy (1990), there is no scholarly study of the captivating sounds of Bulgarian vertical sonorities. Kalin Kirilov traces the gradual formation of a unique harmonic system that developed in three styles of Bulgarian music: village music from the 1930s to the 1990s, wedding music from the 1970s to 2000, and choral arrangements (obrabotki)—creations of the socialist period (1944-1989), popularized by Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares. Kirilov classifies the different approaches to harmony and situates them in their historical and cultural contexts, establishing new systems for analysis. In the process, he introduces a new system for the categorization of scales.

Kirilov argues that the ready-made concepts that are frequently forced onto Bulgarian music—“westernization,” “socialist” or “Middle Eastern influence,” are not only outdated but also too vague to be of use in understanding the sophisticated modal and harmonic systems found in Bulgarian music. As an insider who has performed, composed and arranged this music for 30 years, Kirilov is uniquely qualified to interpret it for an international audience.

$109.95 through Ashgate


Dolunay: Our House

By Kef Times Staff, Winter 2015-16

Dolunay_coverThe Brooklyn-based trio Dolunay (Turkish for “full moon”) is pleased to announce the release of their debut album. Playing traditional Turkish and Rumeli songs and original instrumental compositions, Our House features songs of obscurity, rarely heard since the long-lost days of 78-rpm records. While Dolunay pays tribute to the cosmopolitanism of the Ottoman Balkans, the ensemble also captures the intimacy of the region’s timeless songs and melodies while adding its own flair through orchestration with different instruments, changing meters and translating lyrics. These are songs about people’s homes, their families and lovers, their villages, overcoming life’s familiar challenges—the everyday things that create a sense of identity against the backdrop of history and the sweep of the mountains.

Dolunay is: Jenny Luna – vocals/percussion, Adam Good – ud, and Eylem Basaldi – violin. The album features guest percussionists Polly Tapia Ferber and Jerry Kisslinger.

$15 or $8.50 digital at Bandcamp [http://dolunay.bandcamp.com]. Email for more information.


Spasovski Jubilee_coverThis live DVD was recorded on November 22, 2014, at the Ethnic Cultural Theatre in Seattle, Wash. It’s a celebration of Dragi Spasovski’s 45 years of performance and Macedonian folk music artistry. On the DVD, Dragi performs over 20 urban, izvoren, and čalgija songs, accompanied by musicians from Seattle, Boston and San Jose, including David Bilides, Heidi Bodding, Bill Cope, Sandra Dean, Izumi Fairbanks, David Golber, Michael Lawson, Ramona McDowell Wijayratne, Christi Proffitt, Steve Ramsey, Mary Sherhart and Dina Trageser. To order, find more information, see the playlist and musician biographies, and view a clip, click here.

$20 through the Izvor Music site.


Nest of Gold_coverA Nest of Gold, by Yvonne Hunt. Thessaloniki: Kyklos, 2015.

Many of you know Yvonne Hunt as a dance teacher who has taught at the Mendocino Balkan Music & Dance Workshops over the years and who has written numerous articles and a wonderful book on dance and culture of Greece. Yvonne’s latest publication is a hard bound, nearly five-hundred-pages-long-book titled A Nest of Gold, the result of over thirty years of painstakingly thorough research of the dances and culture of the Serres Prefecture of Greece. It is accompanied by a CD and a DVD that include samples of dances and music she has recorded over the years. It is printed in both Greek and English and contains many color photos. In my years of following the trail of folk music and culture of Greece and Serres in particular, I have never encountered a more meticulously in-depth and detailed investigation on the subject, filled with many insights and fascinating connections. Beautifully bound and designed, this book will delight and inform the most demanding readers. It is my privilege and honor to recommend her work to our community.

For your own copy, contact Yvonne directly.


Koev_coverClarinet players in the Thracian region of Bulgaria are legion, but Georgi Koev’s style was unique. Recognized as a very astute and self-assured performer with a unique tone and color, Koev was famous for his improvisation. His repertoire consisted of traditional dances from the Pazardzhik region and slow, expressive melodies which always moved his audience. This unique collection features 25 melodies played by the legendary Bulgarian clarinetist which Yves Moreau compiled from the archives of the Bulgarian National Radio and former state-owned Balkanton record company. The CD comes with a 24-page booklet with photographs and texts (in Bulgarian, English and French) written and translated by Nikolay Chapanski (Radio Plovdiv), Martha Forsyth and Yves.

The CD is the second one to be issued in the “Balkan Folk Archives” collection following the double-CD set Boris Karlov: Legend of the Bulgarian Accordion, which Yves produced in 2003.

USD $15 + $5 shipping; CAD $20 + $2 shipping. Details, including order form and sample tracks can be found on Yves’ website.


Raya Brass Band: Raya

By Kef Times Staff, Winter 2015-16

Raya_coverWe’re very excited about the release of our fourth album, called simply, Raya. The band was formed and needed a name around the same time that Raya Ferholt-Wirz was born, and we asked for permission from Raya’s parents to name the band after her. Six and three quarter years later, we pay tribute to our namesake and as well as the continuing evolution of Raya Brass Band with our new album. It’s fantastic, if we do say so ourselves, our best effort yet.

Raya Brass Band is: Greg Squared – saxophone, Ben Syversen – trumpet, Matthew Fass – accordion and keyboards, Don Godwin – tuba and keyboards, Nezih Antakli – tupan and percussion, and Rich Stein – snare drum and percussion.

$12 or $8 digital at Bandcamp; for information about the band, click here.

© 2014 East European Folklife Center