Macedonian and Balkan Folk Music

Ramona McDowell Wijayratne

Ramona McDowell Wijayratne image

Ramona McDowell Wijayratne is a 4th generation singer. She was raised in a musical family and exposed from infancy to traditional folk music and dance from Eastern Europe. She has continued her love of both arts to this day. Ramona began her professional singing of Balkan folk music in 2001. She is a current and founding member of Dunava, Seattle's Balkan women's choir, and has sung with many local groups including, Juliana and PAVA, Grupa Dunbarov, and other Seattle-based bands of various permutations.

Ramona's passion for Balkan music is such that she continually works to refine her skills with master teachers both in the U.S. and abroad. While she enjoys singing the many beautifully composed Balkan harmonies, her main focus is to continue the tradition of unarranged two-voiced village singing. It is the beauty of two voices together, where one and one sum to greater than two, that compels and inspires her to sing. In 2001, 2005, and 2009 she self-created several expeditions to the Balkans to absorb, record, and learn the music she loves in its native context. In 2014 she traveled with Dunava to Bulgaria to study and perform. Ramona is a Linguist by training. She received her Masters of Arts in Linguistics from the University of British Columbia in 2002. She always uses her linguistic ability to transcribe and translate the field recordings she makes in order to share and inspire others.