10 July 2012

From a Friend - A Song about Valjevo, Serbia

The song title is Kolubaro sestro Sumadije (Pesma Valjevu)
The artist is Braca Bajic
Valjevo, Serbia

09 July 2012

Learning to speak the Roma Language

Each weekday at Amala School we will have Roma language lessons in addition to solo and group music tutors.

If I think learning music by ear along with new fingering and scales will be a good challenge, the Roma language lessons probably will eclipse everything.

The following text and alphabet were copied from a great website, http://www.omniglot.com/writing/romany.htm. I personally lay no claim to the information since I am totally ignorant about the language of the Serbian/Romani (Gypsy) people. However, Amala School, Veljevo, Serbia, should take care of that.

Romany, or Romani, is an Indo-Aryan language spoken by about 5-6 million Roma people throughtout Europe and the USA. The largest concetration of Roma people live in Romania. In English these people are often called Gypsies. The language is closely related to the languages of northern India, particularly Punjabi, and the Roma are thought to have originally come from that region. Some people consider Romany to be a group of dialects while others think there are several, closely-related Romany languages.

The Muslim invasions of the northern part of the Indian subcontinent around 1000 AD resulted in massive movements of populations, probably including the ancestors of the Roma, who are thought to have moved into Anatolia. In 1300, after the Mongolian invasion of Europe, the Roma moved west into Europe and took up a mainly nomadic lifestyle.

Romany alphabet (Romani šib)
This is the official standard alphabet for Romany. It was standardized in 1990 at the Fourth World Romani Congress in Serock, Poland. This alphabet is used by all the Romany languages/dialects except Carpathian Romany and Finnish Romany.


08 July 2012

Wurlitzer Theatre Organ, an American movie icon

In the glittering tradition of American movie grandeur, here's a little memory of how thing might have been in the 1930s and 1940s when visiting a movie theater.

I lived this memory tonight at the Heights Theater in Columbia Heights, Minnesota where a musician performs for a half an hour before the movie begins. I'll be sharing this with the musicians in Serbia because it is just so Hollywood and so American. Especially the part at the end with the organ sinking into the pit as the disco ball swirls during the rousing final chords!

06 July 2012

Just draw me a picture

I've been overseas more than a dozen times so I know I'll need some type of voltage converter for my battery chargers and such. Searching for information on what electrical outlets Serbia might provide I came across this explanation:

Type C
Type C is the most common outlet used in Europe. It is sometimes called the "Europlug." It is not grounded and includes two rounded 0.157-inch pins. It is 250 volts and widely used in all of Europe.
The type C plug can be used in Type E, Type F, Type J, Type K and Type L outlets. It can also be forced to work with Type D and Type G sockets.

More confused than ever I checked the images from the search I found this:

Type C Plug
Oh, that one! The proper voltage converter is now packed.

05 July 2012

Hoofing it in Europe

Part of traveling outside of the United States is depending on your feet rather than a car. Walking a mile or more every day has been a great addition to my preparation for enjoying recreation and shopping time after hours at Amala School. These nice hikes in our Twin Cities parks have been fun and relaxing; this picture was taken today during a short break from walking on a lovely (albeit humid and 93 degrees) afternoon.
Central Park, Roseville, Minnesota

04 July 2012

Food, no matter where you go, there you are

Today was the 4th of July in America. Most people had meat on the grill, corn on the cob and watermelon. Knowing that my meal was similar to so many million people living in my own country made me curious as to what a favorite dish of the Balkans would look like.

American Burger

Balkan Pljeskavica
It's nice to know we all share some things in common.

03 July 2012

Listen to Serbian Radio

There are many things that enter into a cultural experience, music and the sound of the spoken language are two important parts.

I spent this morning looking for an app to listen to live Serbian radio. EnjoyIT Radio Serbia is now installed on my phone, was it a treat to plug my phone into the computer speakers and have songs from Serbia right in my dining room clear and gorgeous.

If you are one of the many that do not have a phone that does such tricks with apps, you can use the Internet and stream music live from all over the world. Here is a link to such a site:


Serbian Flag

02 July 2012

Traditional Serbian & Romani Dress

I found these two delightful pictures while looking for examples of textiles that might be found in the shops around Veljevo, Serbia. The top picture was taken and blogged by Paul White when he was in Transylvania, Romania, not terribly far from Serbia.

The bottom picture is from the Magelan Travel Agency web site and features different regional Serbian costumes.

30 June 2012

Serbia and Romani music

Map of Serbia

I am very partial to the music of Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Kosovo, and Albania. Some of the music I perform and teach are Romani (Gypsy) in origin. It is my fondest desire that the Romani immersion during Amala School, Valjevo, Serbia, will give me deeper insight to these melodies. 16 Days until I'm there.

From Wikipedia:
Serbia is landlocked country located in the Balkans(a historical and geographical region of southeastern Europe) and in the PannonianPlain (a region of central Europe). It shares borders with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria,Croatia, Hungary, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, and Romania. Serbiaclaims a border with Albania as well through its disputed territory of Kosovo.It is landlocked, although access to the Adriatic is available through Montenegro,and the Danube River provides shipping access to inland Europe and the BlackSea.

From Wikipedia:
Romani music plays an important role in Central and EasternEuropean countries such as Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro,Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Hungary, Slovenia and Romania,and the style and performance practices of Romani musicians have influencedEuropean classical composers such as Franz Liszt and Johannes Brahms.

Gifts of Quilting - an old post gone missing

Quilted by Dee Langley
Note: I was amazed to find this in my blog draft folder. It's a description of the host presents taken to Serbia July of 2012. Figured better late than never so here it is.

June of 2012

Time to start thinking about the little details of the trip, like gifts for our hosts and teachers at Amala School, Valjevo, Serbia. We (OBI) decided to bring books about Minnesota and these quilted ornaments. I made 12 of them in bright colors of pink, green and orange.

Quilting in America has an interesting history. From Wikipedia:

Leading up to the American Civil War, quilts were made to raise funds to support the abolitionist movement then during the war, quilts were made to raise funds for the war effort and to give warmth and comfort to soldiers. Even before 1830 abolitionists were working hard to end slavery. One way they did this was to hold grand fairs to raise both awareness and money for the abolitionist cause. Quilts were one of many craft pieces sold at these fairs.

Quilted by Dee Langley
Amish quilts are appreciated for their bold graphic designs, distinctive color combinations, and exceptional stitching. Quilts are created for everyday use or to celebrate special occasions such as birthdays, weddings, raising funds for the church or community cause. Their quilts have become collectors’ items all over the world.

Today American quilters are still giving through their craft, Quilts For Kids is one such organization. People from all over American donate their time and fabric to make quilts for children in the hospital, to make their stay more homelike.

I will be very proud to leave these 'love and good luck' quilted ornaments in Serbia as a token of appreciation and heartfelt thanks for making us feel at home.

28 June 2012

Kolubarski Region in Serbia

It looks so small...
Day 19 before Amala School.  Wait...what happened to yesterday? This educational and cultural excursion was decided upon over a year ago shortly after Orkestar Bez Ime (know here as 'we') won the McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians. We would have attended last year but not all six of us had the time in July free. So we waited, and waited, and waited and it seemed this dream was so far off in the future. Not any more! My suitcase has come out of the attic today and I'm starting the process of deciding exactly how much stuff I want to carry around with me all the time.

In addition to wrestling my suitcase I spent time looking at the regions of Serbia. The city of Valjevo is the seat of the Kolubarski Region which has around 200,000 people that call it home.

Wikipedia has these Ethnic group population totals posted from the census of 2002, a decade ago. This is a map of only Sumadija and Western Serbia. Kolubarski is the pink area.


2002 Census
Kolubarski Region, only

Serbs 186,177

Roma 2,577

Others 11,806

TOTAL 200,560

26 June 2012

Language, a barrier?

Sometime you take a moment whenever you can, like sitting in the car waiting. For a few minutes I can focus on learning the Serbian language. Two excellent tools are Livemocha.com and Byki.com. Byki has an app for my phone so I can study wherever I am. Good thing because my teachers, I understand, do not speak English and it is up to me to learn how to ask the questions In Serbian.

24 June 2012

Everyone Can Relax

Day 23 and counting backwards to Serbia. This was a Sunday made for taking a break. Mid-summer fire out in the back yard, lucky me! And I guess even when trying to relax I really am preparing for the trip, this post is from an app on my phone, the first one I've tried. I have got a lot to learn before Valjevo!

23 June 2012

Learning about Veljevo, Serbia

Valjevo Panorama - uptown part of the city and Church (source - Wiki)
With 24 days left before my Romani experience I took a spin through Wikipedia. The information below is my translation of the facts offered in the History online.

Condensed History:

In the nearby village of Petnica, scientists found the first complete 6,000 year old Neolithic habitat in Serbia.

In Ancient Roman time this area was an integral part of the province Moesia.

Valjevo was mentioned for the first time in 1393 when it was an important staging post on the trade route that connected Bosnia to Belgrade.

During the First World War the battle of Kolubara was fought in the vicinity of Valjevo where there was a large hospital that helped the wounded.

The city of Valjevo suffered vast destruction during World War II and again at the end of the 20th century when it was repeatedly bombed during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

22 June 2012

Technology and Sleepy Musicians

Audio and video equipment are a necessity for documenting my private and group music lessons at Amala School in Valjevo, Serbia. Sometimes things don't work out as planned. Countdown: 25 days

21 June 2012

Roma Immersion Music School - I'm Going!

There are some moments that are just too stimulating and wonderful to understand all at once. This is one of those events...two weeks of music study immersed in Roma (Gypsy) and Serbian cultures. Starting the countdown to arrival now at 26 days, time to start packing!