Macedonian and Balkan Folk Music

David Bilides

David Bilides photo

David Bilides, January 2020

David Bilides’ initial encounters with Balkan folk music were the weddings and dances of the Asia Minor Greek community in which he grew up in New Haven, Connecticut. After hearing other Balkan music while attending international folk dancing in high school, he took the first of several trips to the Balkans in 1974, visiting Romania, Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. He learned dances, made field recordings, and collected instruments. On returning to the United States he taught himself the music and instruments, formed groups, organized festivals and other music events, and performed and taught music and dance from the region.

David has been lucky to study with many wonderful teachers of traditional music and dance from this area, including, among others: Pece Atanasovski, Mile Kolarov, Dragi Spasovski, Stefče Stojkovski, Angele Dimovski, Goran Alački, Bajsa Arifovska, Željo Destanovski, Lyuben Dosev, Kostadin Varimezov, Stojan Velichkov, Vasil Bebelekov, Alexander Eppler, Nedyalko Nedyalkov, Ivaylo Kuchev, Georgi Zhelyazkov, Georgi Doychev, Nikolay Doktorov, Gospodin Stanev, Temelko Ivanov, Dick Crum, Atanas Kolarovski, Yves Moreau, Martin Koenig, Ethel Raim, Carol Silverman, Lauren Brody, Jane Sugarman, Carol Freeman, Eran Fraenkel, Connie and Marianne Taylor, Joe Kaloyanides Graziosi, Yiannis Roussos, John Pappas, Yvonne Hunt, Dennis Boxell, Steve Kotansky, David Skidmore, Sunny Bloland, Latif Bolat, Bob Beer, Bora Özkök, Mark Levy, Stewart Mennin, Marcus Moskoff, Slavko Šilić, Danilo Yanich, George Chittenden, Lise Liepman, Dan Auvil, Bill Cope, and others.

He continues to play and teach music from the Balkans on a variety of traditional instruments in the US and abroad. David is a frequent guest performer with different groups and at traditional folk music and dance events across the country. Currently he is collaborating with Macedonian singer and Radio Skopje recording artist Dragi Spasovski, and plays tapan and kaval in the group Osem i Devet, with Michael Lawson. David lives in Washington state with his wife, artist, journalist, massage therapist, Reiki master, and musician Sandra Dean. He is a retired public school counselor.