Bulgarian Bitov Ensemble

Nikolay Kolev

Nikolay Kolev, a native of the Thracian Rose Valley village of Karavelovo, has been playing gadulka since age 10. After graduating from the National School of Folk Arts in Shiroka Lŭka, Bulgaria, he performed for three years with the Sliven Folk Dance and Music Ensemble. In 1984 he founded the orchestra Sopot. In 1985 he formed the wedding-music ensemble Rozova Dolina, and in 1992 the prize-winning ensemble Balkanski Glasove. In 1994 and 1995 the latter group took first prizes at the Varna Festival. Nikolay has accompanied many well-known singers including Vŭlkana Stojanova, Roumen Rodopski, and Todor Kozhuharov. In 1999, Nikolay was the first Bulgarian to be recognized by the Slavic Heritage Council of America for his outstanding contributions to music.

Since emigrating to the U.S. in 1995, Nikolay and his wife Donka Koleva have played an active role in fostering Bulgarian music across the country. Based in the New York City area, they teach workshops in their respective fields and perform solo, together, and with their ensemble Cherven Traktor.

Macedonian & Black Sea Surf Repertoire

Bill Cope

Bill Cope is teaching a new ensemble class this year: Black Sea Surf! This repertoire includes music from North Macedonia, Greece, and Turkey, arranged for both traditional and modern instruments. All instruments and singers welcome!

Bill is a multi-instrumentalist who is drawn to play music without borders, that will get people on their feet, dancing! He has been performing and teaching Balkan music at the Mendocino Balkan Music & Dance Workshops since 1982, and to date he has taught at many workshops & zoomshops around the world. Bill has been the music director of San Francisco based WestWind International Folk Ensemble, Aman International Dance Ensemble, Mendocino Folklore Camp, and the San Francisco Kolo Festival. He is currently the director of the San Francisco Kolo Festival, and the band leader for Zabava, Black Sea Surf, and Orkestar Unbound (at Balkanalia this year).

Download Bill’s class materials here

More info and resources:

Greek Ensemble

Christos Govetas

Greek ensemble is back with Christos Govetas! This class will coordinate with songs taught in Ruth Hunter’s Greek Singing class.

Christos Govetas was born in the village of Proti, in the province of Serres in Greek Macedonia. After emigrating to Boston in 1978 he joined the Rebetiko band Taxími as a bouzouki and baglama player and their main vocalist. Since then he has played classical Turkish music on the oud and bendir with The Eurasia Ensemble; Greek, Turkish and Arabic music with Karavani; and regional Balkan music with Tito’s Revenge and Akshambelah in the Boston area.

He has performed extensively in the U.S., Canada and Europe, and for over two decades has taught and performed Greek regional music at EEFC Workshops on both coasts. Currently he is a member of the nationally-known band Ziyiá. He performs regularly with his family band, Drómeno (at Balkanalia this year). Christos has recorded extensively, including with Ziyiá, Pasatempo and Drómeno, as well as with Stanley Greenthal and Heiner Goebbels. He is featured on Bill Frisell’s Grammy-nominated recording, Intercontinentals. In 1999, Christos was awarded a Folk Arts Fellowship in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the preservation of Greek cultural traditions in music. He and his wife Ruth Hunter are also the recipients of the Ethnic Heritage Council’s Gordon Ekvall Tracie award of 2017.