Makedonissimo – Wigmore Hall, photo © Minjash Zhugikj / KulturOp

Simon Trpčeski – about MAKEDONISSIMO

2017 was marked by the start of my latest project, which I called “Makedonissimo”, meaning “very Macedonian”, dedicated to my Macedonian people. It is a project with Macedonian music that I was very much looking forward to. I thought about project for a long time, but because of my obligations I had never had the opportunity to make it a reality, so I’m overjoyed that it finally happened. This project had its world premiere on May 18, 2017, at Ludwigsburg Festival, Germany. At the same time, the date marked the 10th anniversary of my successful cooperation with KulturOp – Association for Culture and Art, a group of enthusiasts from various professions.

I previously opened this festival in 2016, together with the music art director, the Finnish conductor Pietari Inkinen. People were thrilled and the Festival invited me to come back again. This time, I suggested my idea to the Festival and introduced them to the project that I worked on during that period. They openly accepted this idea for which I was very grateful.

This is a project that includes plaits of Macedonian dances with several songs bringing charm to the entire instrumental dimension of this project. I personally selected and conceived these plaits, while at same time consulted with professionals from the “Marko Cepenkov” Institute of Folklore and the Ensemble for folk dances and songs “Tanec”. I am sincerely grateful for their professional contribution, advice, information and materials which were of great help.

This project also represented another extraordinary opportunity to collaborate with Macedonian composer Pande Shahov (who lives and works in London, UK). He made the musical arrangements for these wonderful musical works and brought with him his great enthusiasm into this huge project of 80 minutes of music.

The project involves a quintet, a chamber view of our music, that includes a piano, a violin, a cello, a clarinet, a saxophone and a kaval, and a whole set of percussions. At the world premiere in Ludwigsburg, the following musicians performed alongside me: Aleksandar Krapovski on violin (works at the Barcelona Opera), Aleksandar Somov on cello (principal cello of Strasbourg Philharmonic, France), Hidan Mamudov on clarinet, saxophone and kaval specially for this occasion (lives and works in Vienna), and Vlatko Nushev on percussions (lives and works in Skopje).

This project was successfully presented in 2017 and 2018 in several cities / countries across Europe: Germany (Ludwigsburg) – world premiere, Slovenia (Ljubljana), UK (Wigmore Hall – London, Liverpool and Birmingham), Poland (tour in 4 cities, Warsaw, Szczecin, Gdansk, Katowice), France (Lille), the Netherlands (Concertgebouw – Amsterdam), Serbia (Kolarac Hall – Belgrade).

I sincerely look forward to every future performance of this project and I hope that it will have a good reception with the audience all over the world.

Transcriptions of Macedonian traditional music by Pande Shahov in collaboration with Simon Trpčeski.

We dedicate this project to the Macedonian people.

Simon Trpčeski, piano
Hidan Mamudov, clarinet, saxophone and kaval
Aleksandar Krapovski, violin
Alexander Somov, violoncello
Vlatko Nushev, percussions


Pande Shahov: Pletenki (Plaits)

Part I

Plait 1 : Pembe; Buvčansko; Berovka; Maleševka; Crnogorka

Plait 2 : Čije je ona devojče – dedicated to Simon’s mother and father; Ibrahim odža; Beranče

Plait 4 : Veligdensko; Piperkovo; Pomniš li libe; Todoro; Janino


Part II

Plait 3 : Ne si go prodavaj, Koljo, čiflikot; Žetvarki; Čučuk

Plait 5 : Filka, moma; Sitna lisa; Staro Čunovo; Ratevka; Dračevka

Plait 6 : Metovo; Pelistersko; Postupano

The project Makedonissimo was Simon Trpčeski’s idea and we have closely collaborated during all stages of its development. We selected 19 oros and 4 songs. A medley of dances is called splet (knitwork); I prefer to translate it as plait. The six movements are combined according to the metre: 2/4, 12/8, 7/8, 18/8 (22/8), 7/8 and 13/8. The irregular metre is an important characteristic of Macedonian folk music. Oros are danced in circles, featuring intricate footwork and variety of choreographic gestures, as well as an interesting mise-en-scene of interwoven shapes of lined-up dancers. Plait 1 is the only movement in a regular (2/4) metre. Plait 2 opens with the extraordinary timbre of the kaval; Trpčeski remembers this song from his childhood. Ibrahim Odža is known as both song and oro, whereas Beranče has unusual 3-bar phrases. Plait 3 starts with a homage to Brahms; it merges his quotes with a well-known folk song in a slow waltz movement, before moving onto the usual 9/8 metre. Plait 4 is mostly lively, with the song Pomniš li libe, Todoro (the only one in 22/8 metre, the longest pattern in this cycle) creating a contrasting melancholic character. Plait 5 opens with Filka, moma, a lyrical song from Kukuš, also known as Maškoto (Men’s oro). Staro Čunovo provides an example of the use of clarinet in the čalgii tradition, whereas Janino is usually played by gajda (bagpipes) and kaval. Plait 6 consists of light and bouncy oros.

We would like to thank the Macedonian Institute for Folklore and the Ensemble Tanec for sharing their resources and invaluable expertise. Special thanks to Vlatko Nushev, who played an active role in shaping the final score, especially the percussion parts.

Pande Shahov, March 2017