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Harmonia

Folk Music of Central Eastern Europe

"I'm not usually one to gush, but I first heard Harmonia at a festival in New York. I've listened to a lot of great Eastern European music (my speciality), but I was not prepared for the music I heard from Harmonia. 'Obscenely talented' is the best description I can come up with. As jaded as I am from hearing a lot of this stuff, Harmonia made my mouth open speechlessly, and my eyes stare trying to comprehend how the music I was hearing could possibly be produced by mere mortals."-Charlie Baum, Folklore Society of Greater Washington, December 2001

Harmonia presents the traditional folk music of central eastern Europe, from the Danube to the Carpathians. Its repertoire reflects the region's cultures: Hungarian, Slovak, Ukranian, Romanian, Croatian and Gypsy. Performing on authentic folk instruments, and styled after the turn of the century East-European Gypsy bands, Harmonia's music is drawn from both urban and rural traditions. The ensemble's performances evoke the full range of human emotions, interspersing brilliant, pyrotechnical virtuosity with soulful melancholy and nostalgic yearning..
Coming from varied East-European backgrounds, in Harmonia these musicians have found a common musical language. Whether playing at ethnic weddings or in smoky cafes, this ensemble's members stay close to their roots. Harmonia's music brings to the concert stage the vitality of these traditional settings.

Harmonia's founder, Walt Mahovlich, grew up listening to the Croatian and Hungarian music of his family. He got his start at age 19 playing Croatian and Macedonian weddings, and playing with traditional village musicians, and has since played extensively at events for East European immigrant communities throught the US and Canada, as well as in frequent concert tours of Europe. He has performed at Smotra Foklora in Zagreb, Croatia, the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife, Jimmy Carter's Inaugural, the Re-dedication of Ellis Island, the Bicentennial Celebration of the Constitution in Philadelphia, Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Walt made his Off-Broadway debut in Tony Kushner's adaptation of the S. Ansky Classic, A Dybbuk, at New York's Public Theater and appeared in the film, The Suicide. He has been a faculty member at the Balkan Arts Music Camp and director of the Cleveland Tamburitzans. His album, Nova Domovina: Balkan Slavic Music from the Industrial Midwest won the Unesco award for ethnomusicology.

Alexander Fedoriouk began playing the cimbalom at age 7 in his hometown of Kolomyia, Ukraine. Growing up in the Carpathian mountains, he played at weddings in mountain villages in Ukraine and Moldavia. He studied at the Kolomyia Music School, Chernivsty Musical College and received his bachelor's degree in music from The Kiev State Conservatory. He has performed as a soloist with the Odessa Philhamonic Orchestra, Troisy Muzyky Folk Ensemble. The Manhattan of Music Symphony Orchestra, The Duquesne University Tamburitzans and Cheres. He appeared in the Ukrainian musical movies, Pisne Kalynova and Namysto Dlia Berehyni. He received awards at the national competition on folk instruments in 1987 and 1991 in Ukraine and in Nebraska in 1997. Since he has been in the US, Alexander has been featured as a soloist on a number of recordings. He has recorded with Nigel Pulsford of Bush, legendary jazz flautist Herbie Mann, and performed at Carnegie Hall with John Cale of the Velvet Underground.

The son of a traditional Croatian folk musician, Marko Dreher grew up steeped in the musical traditions of Eastern Europe. He started classical violin lessons at age 3 and shortly thereafter sat in with his father's gypsy orchestra. At 12 he entered the music program at Southern Illinois University, where he studied under John Kendall. Marko has won numerous awards for violin and viola performances and has soloed with many orchestras in the US and Europe, becoming a member of the Illinois Symphony Orchestra at age 13. In 1987 he soloed with the world-renowned chamber orchestra I Soloisti Di Zagreb in Croatia. He performs on tamburica regularly with the Jerry Grecevich Tamburica Orkestar and with his father's tamburica orchestra, Cigani. In Croatia he recordedwith Sharmeri and has toured with singers Zvonko Bogdan and Miro Skoro. He has performed at The Kennedy Center, Chicago Symphony Hall, Severance Hall in Cleveland and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1998 Marko was the youngest recipient of the Tamburitza Association of America's Founder's Award. Marko holds a degree in violin and viola performance from Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied with Roland and Almita Vamos. He is working on his masters degree at The Cleveland Institute of Music.

A native of Ukraine, Andrei Pidkivka graduated from the Lviv Conservatory with a degree in both folk and classical music. By age 18, he was a principal flutist for the Ukranian folk ensemble, Unist. He has since performed with several professional ensembles, inlcuding the Lviv Philharmonic State Symphony Orchestra, Virnist. In 1992, Andrei was featured as a soloist on ethnic flutes with the Ukrainian National Military Orchestra at the Second International Music Festival of Military Bands in Krakow, Poland. His talents have brought him to France, Germany, the Czech Republic and the US. Since coming to the US, he has received a Masters Degree in Flute Performace at Youngstown State University. Andrei makes ethnic flutes and gives peresentations on Eastern European Folk Music at universities and colleges as well as playing extensively in concerts and music festivals, incuding at The Kennedy Center, Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Folk Alliance Conference.

Born in Medzilaborce, in Eastern Slovakia, Beata Begeniova Salak grew up surrounded by Slovak and Russian folk songs sung by her family. She attended the music high school in Presov and received her music degree from J.P. Safarik University in Slovakia. While still at student, she was featured as a soloist on many recordings and radio broadcasts and received numerous awards in folk song competitions. A featured soloist with the professional Rusyn ensemble, Dukla in Presov, she toured Europe and Norh America with S aris an.

Harmonia's bassist, Adam Good, is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He hs lived in New York City since 1996. With a foundation in jazz guitar, Adam's interest in the music of Eastern Europe began around 1994. By the time he joined Tito's Revenge (electric Balkan music), he was hooked. His talent on tambura, ud and guitar playing Macedonian and Bulgarian dance and folk music (as well as the music of Greece, Albania, Turkey, etc.) has made him a fixture of New York's Balkan music scene. He also plays regularly with the Bulgarian-style Kolevi 6, the Macedonian Izvorno, ensembles 9 Olives and Igori, and Sideshow, a band dedicated to an improvisatory approach to the music of Charles Ives that recently debuted the CD Sideshow: Songs of Charles Ives. Adam teaches private lessons in New York City and teaches Macedonian tambura at the Eastern European Folklife Center's Balkan Music and Dance Camp in July.

A native of Fagaras, Romania, Gheorghe Trambitas started playing the taragot at an early age. His orchestra played throughout Transylvania, where he was known for his amazing speed and virtuosity on the taragot. Gheorghe received formal musical training at the Conservatory in Brasov, Romania. Before coming to the US in 1990, he performed throughout Romania and Europe. A master of several Romanian folk instruments in addition to taragot, Gheorghe was featured at the National Folk Festival in 1997.

"The music of Harmonia is highly emotional, but not sappy, it tells a story with notes instead of words. One can almost feel the air and forests and villages of the Carpathian mountains when hearing the musicians play." -Michael Drexler.
"I rank them as one of the most virtuosic bands I have ever seen in concert anywhere…their stage show and music is of the highest calibre."-Joannie Blanton, Shepherdstown Music & Dance International Concert Series.

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