Occupation: Currently I am a student, do editing work and commercial beekeeping, and make music.
Connection to Balkan music/dance: I was blessed to attend a Waldorf high school in Sonoma County, Calif. There, I took several years of Romani music ensemble, playing mandolin and guitar. I have recently immersed myself into a rich new period of appreciation and learning of Balkan music and dance. I attend Sunday Balkan music and folk dance jams in Talent, Ore.; weekly practice sessions with a Balkan band of skilled local musicians; take oud lessons; in the past year have attended several West Coast folk dance/Balkan music gatherings for the first time; and have entered an exciting new era of learning on my main instrument, the mandolin. I am just beginning my journey into the infinite beautiful world of folk music. I listen and discover new Balkan, Eastern European, klezmer, Turkish and Middle Eastern music every day. I am particularly interested in Macedonian and Bulgarian music, mastering odd rhythms, Turkish makam theory, studying the Turkish/Armenian/Greek oud tradition, and continuing to study mandolin and the new musical frontiers that particular instrument can be taken to. I have compiled a large, organized collection of Balkan sheet music, re-learned how to read music notation, and learned many songs.
Number of times at Balkan camp: 2019 was my first time at camp. It was such a valuable experience. Balkan camp reoriented my musical worldview and changed the way I approach practicing and learning music.
Studied at camp: I brought my mandolin, Turkish oud, doumbek and Macedonian tapan to camp. I also borrowed a Macedonian tambura and fell in love with that instrument. I sampled many different classes, and regularly attended Macedonian tambura, Macedonian village ensemble, makam theory, and Christos Govetas’ improvisation theory. I also was able to absorb more Balkan dances, both in classes and the nightly concerts.
Memorable moment at camp: The entire experience of Balkan camp was magical and invigorating. I was completely blown away by the amount of talented, experienced and dedicated students and masters of Balkan music gathered at camp. I spent each night up into the early morning hours sipping ouzo, watching, listening and absorbing the incredible kafana performances. I recorded frequently, hoping to take back some of the songs with me to study and re-live the magic.
The culminating Macedonian village ensemble performance was a fusion of Adam Good and Mark Levy’s classes. Deep in a dark forest far from civilization, we gathered in the center of the old wooden dance hall on the final evening of camp. Tapans began to rumble and thunder, gajdas and kavals rose to a wailing unison. Smiling and laughing alongside new friends, we vigorously strummed our tamburas as 100 dancers encircled us, stepping in unison to the entrancing music.