Location: San Francisco, Calif.
Occupation: Performing musician and clarinet teacher
Connection to Balkan music/dance: I play with Inspector Gadje Balkan Brass Band and MWE Band (Turkish/Balkan).
Number of times at Balkan camp: This was my first year.
Experience at camp: On the MUSIC: Never having been to the Balkans I was enveloped by the village lifestyle and the family/community vibe all focused around the music. The diversity of the musical regions was incredible. Hearing a master clarinet player from Macedonia next to Christos [Govetas] playing Greek music.
The amount of personal time that the instructors gave outside of class was very generous. Raif [Hyseni] helped me with my improvisation for Albanian ensemble; Michael Ginsburg helped me with the complex rhythm in a brass band solo, and Christos sent me off with an inspiring talk about Greek clarinet after the final student concert.
On the COMMUNITY: I was warmly welcomed by the community at large, where I only knew a few people. Having biked 200 miles from SF to the camp, I was not prepared for the massive rainstorms! My small bivy tent was drenched through immediately. One fellow tenter gave me a dry Therm-a-Rest [an inflated camping mattress] to sleep on, the kitchen gave me bags and towels, one woman gave me a warm comforter, and another student a hair dryer to dry my sleeping bag. I eventually moved into Danielle's cabin, where they made space for me. Truly a beautiful, caring community! On the last day I spent hours walking from cabin to cabin and returned belongings to folk all over the camp, and was grateful.