Fall 2018
From the Editor

It’s About Time.

By Julie Lancaster

Those who’ve been attending Balkan camp for a while can see evidence of time passing—this kid’s grown up while we weren’t looking, that one has children of her own now, this one’s head is greyer, that one’s eyes twinkle from nests of more wrinkles. . . . But from another perspective, the Workshops are surprisingly timeless. Continue Reading

Scholarship Recipient

Mendocino 2017: Cody Simmons

Cody Simmons

Location: Eugene, Ore.

Occupation: Freelance musician

Connection to Balkan music/dance: I am director of the Balkan dance band Kef, which is finishing its tenth year of performing in Eugene and throughout the Pacific NW. We perform alternately as a small folk band and as a larger Macedonian-style brass band.

Additionally, I have the privilege of playing with Mark Levy and Carol Silverman in their group Slavej. As I write this, we have just concluded a wonderful weekend of performing at balkanalia! with a host of fantastic musicians, including Michael Lawson, David Bilides, Bill Lanphier and Adam Good.

Number of times at Balkan camp: This was my seventh Mendocino Balkan camp, having first attended as a college student in 2003.

Studied at camp: As a trumpet player, this was a year not to be missed. Demiran Ćerimović is a master of both the music and the instrument, and is one of today’s most beautiful players. Having a trumpet class in addition to the usual brass band was incredibly beneficial, and beyond that the additional private instruction time that I spent with Demiran was invaluable.

Memorable moment at camp: I think perhaps the most valuable thing that I was able to bring back with me this year came from delving into Demiran Ćerimović’s approach to improvisation. It was an impression I had already developed, but to hear it stated explicitly is very enlightening. Generally speaking, when playing a solo, he does not think about modes or chord tones or anything in a generic structural sense. Instead, each tune has a solo that goes with it. That is not to say that it is pre-composed, but rather that there is a sound the solo needs to have, to match the feel of the song. Often all of the various improvisations done during a given tune by different members of a group have a similar sound. What makes each solo unique is the way that the overall idea (which makes it unique to a particular tune) is threaded together by the idiosyncratic repertoire of “licks” each individual performer has under the fingers. Now, if only someone could articulate what makes a solo have the right feel for a given tune.

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