On October 12, 2012, the McIntire Department of Music will present a concert and residency with renowned Bulgarian-born Romani (Gypsy) saxophonist Yuri Yunakov and his five-piece ensemble from New York. The residency will conclude with a concert that will take place in Old Cabell Hall Auditorium at 8 pm. The residency was enabled with a generous grant from the UVA Arts Council, with supplemental sponsorship from the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies (CREEES), the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, the American Studies Program, the Department of Anthropology, and the Dunton Gift. In cooperation with the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (New York). Admission is free and open to the public.
In conjunction with the residency, anthropologist Carol Silverman (U. Oregon), worldwide one of the leading authorities on Romani music and culture, will lead a lecture/demonstration with Yunakov and members of his ensemble on Friday, October 12 in Old Cabell Hall Room B018, 10 am - 12 pm, and she will deliver a colloquium address, "Global Gypsy: Romani Music, Representation and Appropriation," from 3:30-5:00 pm in Old Cabell Hall Room 107. Silverman has just published the definitive study on the subject, "Romani Routes: Cultural Politics and Balkan Music in Diaspora" (Oxford University Press, 2012).
Yunakov, who now lives in New York, became the first Romani winner of the prestigious NEA National Heritage Fellowship Award in 2011, our nation’s highest honor for traditional folk artists. Yunakov is a compelling musician credited with popularizing the saxophone throughout the Balkans. He came to prominence as a member of Bulgarian Romani clarinetist Ivo Papasov’s pioneering Trakija Ensemble, which is credited with having created the genre known as Bulgarian Wedding Music, a Romani style with strong jazz influences. The music had a huge impact in world music spheres in the late 1980s and early 1990s that continues to resonate today. The style is characterized by technical virtuosity and improvisation in rapid, asymmetrical and often abruptly shifting rhythmic meters. Since emigrating to the US, Yunakov has led his own ensemble, sometimes collaborating with Papasov, and has several albums on the Traditional Crossroads label.