Who we are

Musicians

Dave Kantor, a founding member of Veseliyka, grew up listening to music of the Balkans in his home. After years of classical and jazz training on clarinet and piano he returned to the music of his youth. He learned to play gaida and kaval and, after moving to Madison WI began performing in folk ensembles. Dave has performed with music and dance ensembles in Ohio, Michigan, California, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Bulgaria. In Madison Dave has performed with many ensembles including Malo Selo, The Reptile Palace Orchestra, Extra Shmaltz, The Intemperance Collective, and Yid Vicious.

Ed Feeny began folk dancing in gym class as a freshman at City High School, sparking his interest in the music and dance of regions ranging from the Middle East to Scandinavia. At 17, he picked up the electric bass and sometime thereafter helped create Napred, a group which played Eastern European folk music on traditional as well as non-traditional instruments. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Ed is a member of The Reptile Palace Orchestra, The Intemperance Collective, and Motor Primitives.

Flora van Wormer discovered the cello at age twelve after an early retirement from piano and violin. She taught in the Cincinnati area and then lived in Western Massachusetts for five years. There, she taught cello in the public schools, a Waldorf school and privately. She also performed as a freelance cellist, and played with the Pioneer Valley Symphony, the Wholesale Klezmer Band and Druzhina. She is a member of the Recons Klezmer Band, The Intemperance Collective, and the Monroe St. String Quartet. Flora has traveled to Bulgaria to study it’s language and music.

Ellen Bins Nordgren joined Veseliyka in 2011 as the vocalist. Ellen is a classically trained soprano, and she attended UW Madison to earn her degree in music education where she sang for six years with the UW Madrigal Singers. While exploring wider genres of music to teach to her students, she happily stumbled across American and Balkan folk music and folk dance. Though she does not speak Bulgarian, she applies her knowledge of the phonetic rules of singing in many languages to Bulgarian songs. Ellen particularly enjoys listening to the tight harmonies found in Bulgarian women’s vocal ensembles.

Jason Ottman is a versatile musician and dancer who has been heavily involved in the folk music and dance scene in the Milwaukee area for years. He is currently a member of Do Zore.

 

 

 

Past Members

Yuli Yordanov, a founding member of Veseliyka, is originally from Lovech, Bulgaria. He graduated from the Academy of Music and Dance Art in Plovdiv. Prior to graduation, he worked as a choreographer, teacher, and coach for youth dance groups and ensembles in the city of Lovech. Yuli and his students participated in many concerts, celebrations, and international festivals throughout Bulgaria and the rest of Europe. In May 1995, He and his group were selected to appear on a Bulgarian Television program celebrating folklore and traditional culture. Upon moving to the United States Yuli settled in Madison WI and was active in the folk communities of Milwaukee and Chicago. Having moved to New York he now travels throughout North America teaching the dances of his homeland.

Kim Caisse joined Veseliyka after the departure of Yuli Yordanov. Kim was a leader in the Madison international dance community for many years lending her creative talents in all ways before moving to Missouri. Kim’s enthusiasm for the music, dance, culture, and crafts of the Balkans helped to inform her knowledge of the vocal stylings unique to Bulgaria.

Photographs of Dave, Ed, Flora, and Yuli by Paula White.

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