Opre Khetanes! Festival @Balkan Cafe

Balkan Romani Dance Party, Panel, and Workshop

Saturday, April 29, 2017
4PM - 11PM

Featuring Yuri Yunakov and Sal Mamudoski - The Grand Masters of Roma Music

at Hungarian House
213 East 82nd Street (between 2nd and 3rd Avenues) 
New York, NY 10028

4:-5:30 PM  Instrumental Music Workshop, all instruments welcome, $20
6-7:15 PM  Panel discussion on Romani music and current politics, with Carol Silverman, Sani Rifati, and artists, free
7:30-8:15 PM  Dance workshop with Sani Rifati, free with admission to dance party 
8:30 PM -   Dance party with The Grand Masters of Roma Music, $20
Delicious Balkan Food by Mila available to purchase.

Supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
About Yuri Yunakov and Sal Mamudoski - The Grand Masters of Roma Music
Yuri Yunakov, the superstar of the saxophone, was born in Haskovo, Bulgaria, in 1958, and has been the recipient of much critical acclaim. In 2011 Yuri received a National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest honor for an American folk musician. A self-taught virtuoso, Yuri comes from a family of Turkish Romani musician who include his father, grandfather, uncles and brother. Yuri was catapulted to international fame for his pioneering work in Bulgarian “wedding music” with Ivo Papasov and their legendary band Trakiya which attracted thousands of fans and hundreds of imitators. Their thrilling music showcases virtuosic technique, electrifying improvisation, rapid tempos, daring key changes and eclectic musical literacy. This contemporary style of wedding music was named for its ubiquitous presence at life cycle celebrations such as weddings, baptisms, and circumcisions where dancing and music are a requirement. Wedding music is known for its haunting melodies, dense ornamentation and complex rhythmic patterns.
Yunakov immigrated to New York in 1994 and formed the Yuri Yunakov Ensemble, which toured widely in Europe and the U.S., including concerts at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the National Folk Festival, and the Monterey World Music Festival.  Yuri is featured in the new Canadian documentary about the saxophone, "The Devils’ Horn." The New York Times has written “Yuri Yunakov led his ensemble in Bulgarian and Gypsy tunes….racing ahead in dizzy-speeding curlicues and zigzags.  They played as if Bulgaria’s national drink were rocket-fuel!” And The Vancouver Courier has hailed Yuri and his ensemble for “entrancing melodies, shifting time signatures and those unbelievably rapid tempos that Yunakov navigates with ease. His solos especially stand out for their pure exuberance.”
Selajdin (“Sal”) Mamudoski was born in 1988 and raised in NY in a Romani family from Macedonia. He plays clarinet at Romani, Albanian, Macedonian, Turkish, and other Balkan family and community celebrations. He was a student of Romani saxophonist Yuri Yunakov for many years and frequently performs with him. Sal toured the US with Yunakov's Romani Wedding Band in 2007, and he performed with the Sazet Band at the 2015 Herdeljezi Festival, both sponsored by Voice of Roma.
Erhan (Rambo) Umer, born in Bitola, Macedonia in 1973 and moved to NY in 1986, comes from a long line of professional Romani musicians: his father was a drummer with the National Macedonian Ensemble "Tanec."  Erhan is a keyboard player and vocalist who performs for weddings and celebrations for his community of Macedonian Roma and also for Albanians, Bosnians, Serbs, and Turks. Erhan toured the US with Yunakov's Romani Wedding Band in 2007, sponsored by Voice of Roma. 
Sevim Umer, born in Bitola, Macedonia in 1965, currently living in NY, comes from a long line of professional Romani musicians: his father was a drummer with the National Macedonian Ensemble "Tanec." Sevim drums regularly in the NY area for Macedonian Roma and also Albanians, Bosnians, Serbs, and Turks. For over a decade he has performed and toured with Albanian stars Merita Halili and Raif Hyseni. 
Sani Rifati is Voice of Roma’s President and founder, production/tour manager, dance researcher and instructor, and activist. Of Romani decent, Sani was born in 1962 in Kosovo, emigrated to the United States in 1993, and now lives in Berlin. His career as a dancer and singer began early in childhood in his Romani neighborhood, and he has given numerous dance workshops in Europe and the US.  Sani produced VOR’s North American tours with Esma Redžepova in 2004 and 2016, Yuri Yunakov in 2007, and Kal in 2006 and 2008.

In Bulgaria during the 1970s and 1980s, “wedding music” was officially suppressed by the socialist government, but thrived in private settings as a means of countercultural expression. During this period Yunakov was one of the leading stars who fought to continue playing for Romani and non-Romani audiences alike; he was jailed and fined numerous times. The music's popularity has grown across Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Macedonia and Turkey, and has also gained enthusiastic audiences and critical acclaim in Western Europe, Canada, Australia and the US.  This tradition-bending music includes nods to jazz and rock, with frenetic time signatures and live-wire improvisations played out as show-stopping duels between Yunakov and his ensemble, creating harmonies which have made him a legend in Bulgaria since the 1970s.  The program will be drawn from Romani, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Turkish, and Albanian repertoires. Opre Khetanes! takes its name from a Romani expression of community empowerment meaning "rise up together!"
Additional information will be posted soon at www.ctmd.org