Location: Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria.
Occupation: I am a student at the American University in Bulgaria. I came here because I want to learn Bulgarian music. Outside of school I am studying with some players from the Pirin Ensemble. I also have a teacher in Sofia at the National Folk Ensemble.
Connection to Balkan music/dance during the year: There are not too many music-related events in Blagoevgrad. I go see the Pirin Ensemble when they perform and have been to a few mehanas [taverns with folk decorations and sometimes folk music]. It’s not like Balkan camp where there are parties with folk music every day. In Plovdiv things are little more musically active, but it is four hours away by bus. I have been to a few events in Plovdiv and Sofia.
Number of times at Balkan camp: Five years.
Studied at camp: Gudulka. I didn’t go to the gudulka classes because the teacher there was using the same materials that my teacher developed, so I asked him for private lessons in his free time. We did that every day.
Memorable moment at camp: Playing a kafana set with Eleni and Bobby Govetas, Nick Maroussis and Benji [Rifati]. That was probably the thing that stuck out to me. Most the time I don’t get to play with people my age. I grew up in Durham, N.C., and my mother was a folk dancer, and I’ve always been surrounded by people significantly older than me. Playing with talented people close to my age, like those guys, it brought a different feeling that I hadn’t had before. It was really satisfying.