Location: Boston, Mass.
Occupation: I am starting my sophomore year at the Berklee College of Music, where I am pursuing a dual major in trumpet performance and composition. I want to be a professional trumpet player, composer and vocalist.
Connection to Balkan music/dance: When I am in Oregon, I perform with the Balkan band Kef (balkanmusic.org) run by Cody Simmons, another trumpet player who came to the Balkan camp this year. I would love to play Balkan music when in Boston as well, and am planning on pursuing that goal this year.
Number of times at Balkan camp: This was my first time at camp.
Studied at camp: My main focus was the trumpet. Specifically, I really wanted to get a grasp on the Balkan time feel, ornamentation, and improvisation styles. I took brass band from Demiran [Ćerimović], trumpet class, and the Romani ensemble from Vlado [Pupinoski].
Memorable moment at camp: It was a profound experience seeing the community so wholly immersed in their own culture and heritage—that is something that I have rarely seen in my life and it was so cool to be a part of. The whole immersive process of the camp unto itself really struck me, there was no way that I would have been able to understand how the music is played and practiced and approached by listening to it and reading written music. Learning songs in the classes by ear really helped me acquire the feel of it—about halfway through the camp I had a breakthrough in understanding the feel, style and sound of the Balkan trumpet/truba. I could only have understood how to think about and work on this style from that experience. Reflecting on the music as a whole, as I am not at all coming from a dance background, it was very interesting to see a music that is played specifically for various types of dances. Seeing the dance hall and kafana sets was also invaluable because simply experiencing three sets of live Balkan music from the best musicians, and all of the dancers, is such a rare thing.
I loved how amazing Demiran was at teaching despite the language barrier. His virtuosity was so inspiring—how he taught all day and played all night was impressive, especially knowing the limitations that brass instruments can present! Getting to see him and work with him was definitely one of the most important and inspirational facets of the camp and made it really an incredible learning opportunity.