Tag Archives: Macedonian music

Balkan Souls in New Orleans

Blato Zlato – In The Wake (Blato Zlato, 2019)

In The Wake is the second album from New Orleans-based Balkan music band, Blato Zlato. Although the ensemble is based in a city known for its brass bands and jazz, the remarkable sound of Blato Zlato takes you to Eastern Europe and the traditions of Bulgaria, Macedonia and Megrelia (Georgia).

Blato Zlato’s sound is characterized by superb Bulgarian-style polyphonic female vocals delivered by three of the ensemble’s members, along with beautifully-constructed instrumentation. The musical pieces included in the album In The Wake are a mix of traditional eastern European songs and original material.

Blato Zlato – In The Wake

Although the music has deep Bulgarian influences, the musicians live in New Orleans, a city affected by climate change, surrounded by water.  The song “Vodata Teche” (The Water Flows) reflects Blato Zlato’s rising concern about climate change and its effects on their home state of Louisiana.

The physical CD includes fascinating artwork and lyrics in the original languages along with English-language translations.

Blato Zlato

Lineup: Lou Carrig on accordion and vocals; Ian Cook on violin; Ruby Corbyn-Ross on vocals and riqq; Janie Cowan on upright bass and riqq;  Annalisa Kelly on vocals; and Boyanna Trayanova on tapan and caxixi.

Buy the In the Wake CD from Bandcamp or the digital download via amazon.


Artist Profiles: Baklava


Baklava, from Skopje, Macedonia, plays music that could be best described as traditional Macedonian folk music played with traditional instruments, but infused with contemporary sensibility. This sound was crafted through their many live performances and concerts which culminated in the recording of live album “Baklava” (Skopje Jazz Festival Records, 2007) this contains both traditional songs and its own compositions.

Elena Hristova – vocal, kaval (wooden pipe)

Plays a variety of instruments. Trained in opera, choral and traditional folk singing which lately has been her primary passion. Constantly in search of new and fresh sounds, she has taken part in various projects, albums and has played in many countries throughout Europe.

Nikola Nikolov – tambura

Plays multiple instruments. The tambura has come as a natural progression from his primary instrument, the guitar, introducing utterly new and contemporary elements in his style of playing. Previously, he has been a member of a variety of bands (heavy metal, funk, rock). Currently, he is also the guitar player in the jazz-band “Plan B”.

Aleksandar Stamatov – tambura

Student of the great maestro of traditional Macedonia folk music, Pece Atanasovski. His style comes closest to the traditional style of playing. Unwavering in his sound, it is telling that he has never been curious about other instruments. He has been a guest on a great variety of music projects.

Dejan Sibinovski – def

Another student of Pece Atanasovski. He is self-taught in the tef, learning from watching and hearing Turkish dervishes, but owing his prowess mostly to Sabit Tahiri. He also plays multiple instruments. Like the others, he has also taken part in a wide range of projects, as well as collaborated with various performers.

In 2011 the band released a Sephardic music album titled Me mankas mucho. The 2011 lineup included Elena Hristova on vocals; Dejan Sibinovski on daf, percussion; Cengiz Ibrahim on– kanun, bagğlama; Petar Hristov on clarinet, saxophone, guitarro; Dejan Teodosievski on cello; Trajce Ristovon– darbuka, dajre, tapan; and Vladimir Krstev on violin.


Baklava (2006)
Kalemar (2008)
Me mankas mucho (2011)


Artist Profiles: DD Synthesis

DD Synthesis

DD Synthesis was a band established in 1995 for the purpose of carrying out an in-depth pursuit of the outstanding folk music treasures of Macedonia. The name “Synthesis” was chosen to express the concept of the group. The combination of traditional sounds with contemporary arrangements creates a musical synthesis. Digging deeply into the roots of Macedonian folk heritage, with a serious concern for the basics of traditional compositions, the group has received high praise for breathing new life in this milieu.

The melancholic voyages of DD Synthesis, with the full emotional power of the heritage and the typical complexity of Macedonian rhythms, should not be missed by any Balkan music fan. Macedonia has finally uncovered a contemporary world music project! The group uses the full range of original Macedonian instruments: kaval, gaida, zurla, tapan, tarabuka (darbuka) and tambura.

The line-up consisted of three young female singers, a keyboard player, two percussionists, a tambura player and, of course, kaval, gaida or zurla on the front. Special mention must made here of the fact that while the majority of the folk-songs groups in Macedonia are amateur groups, this band was made up of professional musicians who were trained in the basics of music.

DD Synthesis recorded its first CD in 1996. The CD was released at the very beginning of 1997 by SJF Records (a division of Skopje Jazz Festival). It got excellent reviews and acclaim all over Europe. The music of DD Synthesis was included on the compilation “Unblocked-the Music of Eastern Europe” on the American Ellipsis Arts label.

In 1997, the group started its touring and played various International Festivals, like “Druga godba”, “Trn Festival”, “Mediterranean Festival” in Slovenia, Folk Festival in Budapest, Hungary, EBU Festival in Krems, Austria. Besides numerous concerts in Macedonia, in 1998, DD Synthesis performed at “Dionysia Festival” in Rome, Italy, EBU Festival in Portoroz, Slovenia, “Tanz & FolkFest” in Rudolstad, Germany, “Akko Festival” in Israel… In May 1999, the group toured Japan.

Without exception DD Synthesis was overwhelmed with the enthusiastic responses by audiences and critics. With only one personnel change in its history, Goce Dimovski replacing Dragan Dautovski, the band prepared the second CD for SJF Records. The release date was July 1, 2000. The second CD, “Swinging Macedonia”, was mostly recorded in Ljubljana (Slovenia). It is completely acoustic with the use of a symphony orchestra on a couple of pieces.

The band:

Goce Dimovski – kaval, gaida, zurla

Vane Jovcev – piano, keyboards

Marjan Jovanovski – tambura

Goce Uzunski – tapan, tarabuka (darbuka)

Radoslav Shutevski – percussion Aneta Shulankovska, Biljana Ristovska, Mirjana Joshevska – vocals


DD Synthesis (SJF Records, 1996)
Swinging Macedonia (SJF Records, 2000)


Artist Profiles: Dragan Dautovski

Dragan Dautovski

Dragan Dautovski is a professor of folk instruments: kaval, gajda, and tambura at the University Sts. Cyril and Methodius. In 1992 he formed the ensemble Mile Kolarovski, which recorded numerous timres for Macedonian National Radio – Television. He participated on the music score for the film Before the Rain, 1994. Dautovski formed the group DD Synthesis in 1995.

Dragan Dautovski Quartet was created in July 2000 in Skopje, Macedonia. The band’s principal inspiration is Macedonian music folklore idiom. From depth of the folklore, through the various contemporary music aesthetic elements and styles, “our goal is to create a synthesis of the traditional and modern.” The authentic afeel is captured by traditional music instruments such as kaval, pipe, tambura. The album The Path of the sun resulted from first CD single Roots and Blossoms.

Members of the Quartet:

Dragan Dautovski – founder of the band ,composer, multi-instrumentalist on traditional instruments.

Aleksandra Popovska – vocala, professor of music theory in High school.

Bajsa Arifovska – traditional instruments, professor of folk instruments.

Ratko Dautovski – percussion, student at the College of Music Art, Skopje, Macedonia.


Roots and blossoms (Pan Production, 2000)
Bahar, with Makis Ablianitis (Libra Music, 2000)
Path of the sun (Pan Production, 2002)
Razboj (DDQ Production, 2007)
Infuse, with Around The Black (Infuse/Mdsoring, 2008)
Flame (DDQ Production, 2013)


Artist Profiles: Kadrievi Orkestar

Macedonian band Orchestar B. Kadrievi has been around for over five generations. The orchestra took part in many Festivals in Macedonia. Orchestar B. Kadrievi also played at the famed brass festival in Guca (Serbia) where it was pronounced one of the bests orchestras.

The leader of the orchestra, Jusin Kadriev, wrote music for the Emir Kusturica film titled “Time of Gypsies”. He also wrote music for a drama in Switzerland, where he spent six months with a Circus.

The orchestra B. Kadrievi plays Gypsy, Serbian, Macedonian, Greek and Turkish music.

Orchestar B. Kadrievi has recorded many singles and albums released in various formats. The Orchestar normally includes saxophone, clarinet, trumpets, horns, drums, and big Horn.


Artist Profiles: Esma Redzepova

Esma Redzepova

Esma Redzepova was well-known throughout Eastern Europe and the Balkans as “the queen of the Gypsies.” She was exuberant as her music. She sang and danced with a special feeling and had a vibrant voice that fascinated everybody.

She was born in a small town near Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, where movie director Emile Kusturica filmed The Time of the Gypsies. Her music used to be available only on cassette tapes.

Esma Redzepova performed since the age of twelve and was discovered by the renowned musician, composer and bandleader Stevo Teodosievski, who became her mentor, musical partner and later her husband.

Their ensemble became one of the most popular groups in the Balkan region. They made hundreds of recordings together, several of which became “gold.” They toured extensively, filling concert halls and stadiums in Europe, Australia, China, Pakistan, Africa and the Middle East.

During their life together, Stevo and Esma adopted 47 orphans and street children into their home, which evolved into a school of folk music. Esma continued her career after Stevo’s death in 1997, continuing to perform with the Ensemble Teodosievski.

Composed of members of Stevo and Esma’s music school, Esma’s group was composed of Simeon Atanasov (accordion), Elvis Huna (bass accordion), Tasko Grujovski (double bass), Zekiroski Sami (clarinet), Zahir Ramadanov (trumpet) and Elama Rasidov (darbuka).

Esma Redzepova’s songs were the musical expression of her love to Macedonia and its Gypsy roots. Her music sounded like typical melodies of the Balkan Mountains with a special protagonist of the violin, clarinet and accordion and with influences from India, Persia and Spain, creating an exciting atmosphere, cheerful and sensual.

Esma Redzepova

Esma was an authentic star in the Balkan countries. For over twenty-five years, she performed in the most important venues of the world. She also acted in several movies and was a great ambassador of the Gypsy Macedonian culture in the world.

Esma Redzepova passed away on December 11, 2016 in Skopje, Macedonia.

Partial Discography

Esma Redzepova released numerous recordings on cassette, LP and CD on various labels: Jugoton, Balkanton, IFIS “Glas”, Melos, Sportska knjiga, RTB, Monitor, and Studio B. Below are some of her albums currently available.

* Songs of A Macedonian Gypsy (Monitor MON71496, 1994/World Connection, 1998)
* Chaje Shukarije (Europe: World Connection/ USA: Times Square Records)
* Pomedju dva zivota / Between two lifes (Kaliopi Music)
* Romske pesme (PGP-RTS, 2000)
* Mon histoire, My story (Accords croisés, 2007
* Gypsy Carpet (Network, 2007)


Gypsy Caravan (2007) features Esma as one of five Roma musical acts on their tour through the United States of America.


Artist Profiles: Ismail Lumanovski

Ismail Lumanovski
Ismail Lumanovski

Ismail Lumanovski, well-known for his lively virtuosity, was born in Bitola, Macedonia and started playing the clarinet at age eight. He has performed throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and China to critical acclaim. Lumanovski participated in the New York début of the Carter Clarinet Concerto with musicians from the New Juilliard Ensemble and the Lucerne Festival Academy with composer Pierre Boulez.

Throughout the years, Lumanovski has performed with many significant musicians and orchestras, including Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, the Berklee Middle Eastern Fusion Ensemble, the World Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Palestine Youth Orchestra, the Macedonian Philharmonic Orchestra, Marcel Khalife, Al Di Meola, and Husnu Senlendirici.

A skilled improviser and performer of Macedonian, Turkish and Gypsy music, he has toured with the New York Gypsy All-Stars and is also one of the founders of The Secret Trio.

Ismail Lumanovski is the winner of numerous competitions, including the 23rd, 24th and 25th Clarinet Competition of Macedonia, the Juilliard Clarinet Concerto Competition, the International Young Artist Competition in Bulgaria, the National Folk Music Competition in Macedonia and the Andreas Makris Clarinet Competition in Colorado.

Furthermore, Lumanovski received the “Fine Arts Award” twice at the Interlochen Arts Academy, and 1st prize at the Arriaga Chamber Music Competition. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree and Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School of Music. He studied with Charles Neidich and Ayako Oshima.


Soundscapes, with The Secret Trio (Traditional Crossroads, 2012)

Dromomania, with New York Gypsy All Stars (New York Gypsy All-Stars, 2015)

Three of Us, with The Secret Trio (Traditional Crossroads, 2015).

Website: www.ismaillumanovski.com