Performance - Workshops - Presentation - Lectures
“Macedonian music is the most beautiful and inspiring music in the world”, Gundula had declared with passionate excitement, before setting out on her first trip to Skopje, after she had travelled to many other Eastern European countries on a mission of music discovery.
MACEDONIAN INSPIRATIONS is a performance project born from Gundula's discoveries during her numerous field trips. Guided by her extensive musical adventures, Gundula sought to capture and recreate the enchantment of Macedonia through music and dance. The performance weaves a narrative encompassing sorrow and sadness, war and peace, as well as love and happiness.
The show skilfully showcases not only the Macedonian musical landscape but also draws from Turkish, Albanian, Former Yugoslavian, and Bulgarian influences. Each piece retains authenticity, reflecting its individual essence and background. Featuring songs and pieces from both folk and Romany Gypsy heritage, the performance pays homage to renowned artists like Esma Rečepova, King Ferus Mustafov, and others.
MACEDONIAN INSPIRATIONS has predominantly been performed on theatre stages but can be tailored to various spaces, such as lecture theatres, festival stages, community centres, and outdoor locations.
On an academic level, MACEDONIAN INSPIRATIONS is an artifact of comprehensive study and ethno-musicological research. As a performance, however, it recounts the stories Gundula encountered among Romany people, Macedonians, Albanians, and others. The songs and pieces themselves she learned in the traditional way by ear from incredible musicians she met on her journeys. The musical arrangements and choreographies, however, are driven by the encounters and experiences she had among those wonderful people and reflect the bright and dark energies of this controversial country.
WORKSHOPS & PRESENTATIONS
Music workshops can be offered as one-off sessions lasting 1 hour, half a day, or a full day, or as a series of recurring sessions. They encompass various styles of Macedonian music, including folk, Gypsy, and Chalgia, utilizing a combination of by-ear learning and sheet music.
The intensity of the workshops can be adjusted to accommodate a range of levels, from community sessions to top-level masterclasses. Generally, no prior knowledge of the style is necessary.
Specialist workshops are available for melodic instruments, vocalists, or percussion. Additionally, band workshops can be arranged, encompassing all instruments.
Dance workshops may include a blend of folk dances and Gypsy performance dance styles.
PERFORMANCE LECTURE / ACADEMIC PRESENTATION
Depending on the environment and the audience, a presentation may include an optional live performance, video and slide shows, as well as a Q & A session. Gundula has delivered lectures to both undergraduate and postgraduate students at universities in the UK and Turkey. Additionally, she has given pre- or post-concert talks at the community level.
Gundula Stojanova Gruen is a virtuoso violinist and singer who has travelled extensively, transcribing melodies learned first-hand from Romani and folk musicians. Described by Songlines Magazine as ‘a shining star in the UK’s Balkan music scene’, her unique performance style showcases technical prowess acquired through intensive conservatoire training, along with a colourful and charismatic personality. Her arrangements and compositions, while drawing influence from her love and extensive knowledge of Romany Gypsy music, are original and highly personal.
In 2018, she completed an MA with distinction in Ethnomusicology at City University London. Her research focused on Macedonian music. The MACEDONIAN INSPIRATIONS performance, workshops, and lectures are based on her research results and music discoveries during fieldwork for essays and the Master's Thesis. [Read more...]
“Bavarian-born violinist Gundula could well have been raised in the Balkans, for her playing imparts the true soul of Gypsy music, full of colour and passion, an explosion of energy…” Vesti News, Serbian diaspora newspaper.
Linda Gjorgeva Toteva was born with a Roma and Traveller’s soul, and dancing was woven into her cradle. Her mother is a Roma from Blagojevgrad, a town on the Macedonian-Bulgarian border, and her father is an Irish Traveller. Linda herself was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. Due to her father’s job, they journeyed through Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Gaza, and Germany, where she absorbed traditional dance styles on their travels. Her uncle, her mother’s brother, hailing from a Roma blacksmith tradition, worked as a knife-sharpener and antique trader. He regularly took her back to the Balkans, where, from the age of 5, she danced in restaurants while her uncle collected money in his shoe.
Her time in Egypt and Saudi Arabia inspired her to study belly dance. Linda has also trained in various styles, including contemporary and street dance, Bulgarian and Irish folk dance. Under the guidance of Cid Chana, she learned Indian Kathak dance and Bollywood. Today, Linda works as a dancer, specializing in Roma, Middle Eastern, and Balkan styles. She is also a jewellery designer and a tutor for jewellery making at Greenwich College, and serves as a Belly dance instructor in Tower Hamlets.
“When I say to people I travelled as a kid they’re always ‘Wow, that’s so exciting’ but really I didn’t have many friends; it was very lonely. I didn’t really know what was going to happen from one minute to the next. I wanted to be normal like other kids, be in school and stay home for Christmas. That’s the downside, but on the other hand I think it’s made me the person I am today, it’s been interesting. It’s made me take risks and be more culturally aware of everything I do. It’s all part of what I’ve grown up with”.
Tatcho Drom are considered one of the UK’s leading exponents of Romany Gypsy music. Their name translates to ‘True Journey’ from Rromanes, the language of Romany Gypsies. The quintet's broad repertoire includes traditional music from across Eastern Europe and the Balkans as well as band leader's Gundula’s own original compositions.
Inspired by the charisma of Esma Redžepova, the virtuosity of Taraf de Haïdouks, the elegance of Vivaldi and the humour of Emir Kusturica, Tatcho Drom stage ‘A Gypsy consommé with a satanic pulse’ (Froots Magazine), a vibrant show of beautiful melodies and dancing rhythms from Eastern Europe and the Balkans. To find out more make sure to visit their website.