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Yuri Yunakov and his Romani Wedding Band

  Friday , Sep 21, 2007         7:30 PM        $20 Donation

Event Details

yuri_and_salYuri Yunakov (saxophone) pioneered “Bulgarian Romani Wedding Music” along with Ivo Papazov and Neshko Neshev in the 1970s and was then catapulted to international fame. Their incredibly thrilling music showcases virtuosic technique, electrifying improvisation, rapid tempos, daring key changes and eclectic musical literacy.   This contemporary style of "wedding music", named for its ubiquitous presence at life cycle celebrations such as weddings, baptisms, and circumcisions where dancing and music are a requirement, was originally played only for, with, and by Roma.  While harsh racism in Bulgaria drove this type of music underground in the 70s, Yunakov was one of the leading stars that fought to continue playing for Romani and non-Romani audiences alike. For decades this music’s popularity has been growing by leaps and bounds across Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Macedonia and Turkey, and more recently is going global, gaining enthusiastic audiences and critical acclaim in Western Europe, Canada, Australia and the U.S.  And now Yunakov and his New York based band are bringing Romani Wedding Music to venues across the U.S. in Voice of Roma’s Fall tour, 2007.

Yuri Yunakov, a self taught virtuoso saxophonist, immigrated to New York City in 1994, formed his own band, the Yunakov Ensemble, in 1995, and has toured extensively in the U.S. with them, as well as recording three Traditional Crossroads CDs. Yuri’s self identification as a Romani musician has positively contributed to non-Romani audience awareness in a way that counteracts stereotypes about “Gypsies”.  

The “Romani Wedding Music Goes Global” fall 2007 U.S. tour is produced by the Romani non-profit organization, Voice of Roma’s “Romani Routes” program dedicated to educating audiences about the music and culture of the Romani people.

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