Gundula & the Magic Violin
Described by Songlines Magazine as ‘a shining star in the UK’s Balkan music scene’, Gundula Stojanova Gruen is a virtuoso violinist, singer, ethnomusicologist and tutor based in Harrow. Her ethnomusicology practice focuses on Gypsy Romany and folk music from the Balkans, leading her around Eastern Europe transcribing music first-hand from Romany and folk musicians. As an arranger and performer, Gundula’s field work travels have given her work a unique style. With extensive academic training in both conservatories and universities, her technical ability shines but is married always with her charismatic personality.
Gruen’s band swirl and flow fascinatingly around her, in obvious thrall to her fearless
and commanding playing.' - Froots
Currently, Gundula is performing with her new ensemble, The Magic
Violin Trio, as well as leading the community ensemble the Balkan
Village Band. Ongoing creative projects include collaborations with
spoken word artist Sally Pomme Clayton and dancer Linda Cremin.
When she is not working in London, Gundula continues to travel to the
Balkans and Turkey for both research and performance.
For over 25 years, Gundula has worked as a performer to great acclaim;
as both a solo player and as the leader of various groups. With her group
Tatcho Drom, she has led artistic projects and performed at international events and corporate functions. Gundula’s unique arrangements can be heard in the world of Tatcho Drom, as she draws on her love and vast academic research of Romany Gypsy music to create pieces that are original and personal.
Gundula’s knowledge of Balkan Music and her experience in performance make her an acclaimed workshop leader. In workshops all across the UK, she shares her knowledge of the genre, teaching mainly the traditional way by ear, and using sheet-music learning only when really necessary for learning. Outside of the workshop setting, Gundula is also a highly experienced violin tutor. In one-on-one sessions, she imparts her passion for music whilst equipping her students with the technical tools they need to grow as violin players.
As an Academic, Gundula has been rigorous in carving out areas of research never before explored. Much of her research whilst obtaining her master’s degree at City University was dedicated to Čoček, a Macedonian Romany music and dance genre, which had previously never been researched in any depth. For 6 years she lectured at City University on Musicianship and led a performance module titled ‘Balkan Ensemble’.
Originally hailing from Bavaria (Germany), Gundula completed her Bachelor's of Music from the Konservatorium Augsburg, Germany in 1993. Gundula also studied the Alexander Technique in detail and has refined her singing ability alongside her instrumental studies. In her continued commitment to Academia, she has obtained two Masters degrees; one postgraduate degree in Jazz from the Konservatorium in Munich in 1995 and the other in Ethnomusicology at City University, London in 2018.
One of Gundula’s most significant past projects is founding the 45-piece London Gypsy Orchestra and being its director for 10 years. A testament to Gundula’s skill of bringing together research, performance and theatre is her piece Macedonian Inspirations. Premiered at the Kings Place in 2018, this project told the stories of her encounters on a research expedition to Macedonia as well as showcasing the music and dance styles Gundula came across whilst there.
Gundula travels around the UK and Europe regularly for both research and performance. She has performed at festivals, cultural centres and theatres such as the South Bank Centre, Canterbury Music Festival and Halifax Art Centre. Gundula has been featured on Television; as part of Channel 4’s (UK) documentary ‘How Music Works’ (originally aired November 2006), and as part of TRT’s (Turkish State Television) documentary Halkı Kültur, Ayne Müsik (released in 2014). Gundula has been both a guest and performer on various Radio networks and programmes, including BBC 6 Music and Resonance FM.