The workshop

In this workshop series, Rumen “Sali” Shopov (with visits by Shira Cion) will share some of the most beloved folk songs sung at gatherings of everyday people in communities throughout the Balkans. We'll explore material in a variety of rhythms, modes, and moods from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia with excursions into Romani (“Gypsy”) and Jewish repertoire from the region as well. Through these soulful songs (most sung in 2 and 3 part harmony), we'll explore techniques to open participants' voices to discover a natural Balkan folkloric timbre. We'll also cover pronunciation, ornamentation, styling, and the cultural context of each tune in a fun and supportive environment.

All material will be taught by ear. Lyric sheets and source recordings will be provided.

Singers of all ages, genders, and levels of experience are welcome! The only prerequisite is the ability to accurately match pitch and solidly hold one's part when singing in harmony with others.

the leaders

Singer, multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, and music teacher Rumen “Sali” Shopov was born and raised in the Turkish/Muslim Romani (“Gypsy”) mahala (neighborhood) of Gotse Delchev, a crossroads in Southwestern Bulgaria's Pirin Mountain region, an area known for its rich and diverse musical landscape.

Rumen grew up in a Romani family that loved to have relatives and neighbors over to sing from dusk until dawn. Rumen thus learned many Bulgarian, Macedonian, Greek, Turkish, Serbian, and Romani songs in the community-based oral tradition. Rumen began performing professionally in his early teens, becoming the concertmaster of Bulgaria's first national folk ensemble “Nevrokop” and the leader of two of the Pirin region's most popular wedding bands “Shturo Make” and “Orbita”.

Rumen has performed and taught throughout Europe and the Americas and is the recipient of grants grants from the Creative Work Fund, the Alliance for California Traditional Arts, Creative Capital MAP Fund, the NEA, and the Fund for Folk Culture. He has been on the faculty of the CA Jazz Conservatory since 2007 and maintains a private teaching studio in Berkeley, CA.

Born into a Eastern European Jewish family of compulsive harmonizers, Kitka's executive/artistic director Shira Cion has been active as a performer, educator, and cultural worker since her teens.

Trained in classical music performance, ethnomusicology, and folklore at the Hartt School of Music, Boston University's Tanglewood Institute, Wesleyan University, and Russia's Moscow Conservatory, Shira joined Kitka in 1988.

With Kitka and independently, Shira has studied and collected folk songs in Armenia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine. She has also been mentored and deeply inspired by numerous immigrant traditional song masters based in Eastern European ethnic communities throughout the USA.

The Details

Ten Tuesday evenings, September 20 - November 22, 2016
7:30 - 9:30 pm

Convenient West Berkeley location will be disclosed upon registration


There will be a $200 fee for the entire series. Three payment options are listed below:

Full Payment of $200:

2 monthly Payments of $100:

10 Weekly Payments of $20:

For more information, please email Shira directly.