Village Harmony

Bosnia & Hercegovina Camp – June 25 – July 9, 2018 – $1700adult/$1375youth

Date: June 25- July 9, 2018
Venue: Hotel Sanus, Sanski Most, Bosnia
Leaders: Mary Cay Brass, Avery Book, Samira Merdzanic, Vahidin Omanovic
Price: $1700 adult/$1375 youth



Village Harmony is pleased to announce its fourth camp in Bosnia and Hercegovina in a unique collaboration with the Center for Peacebuilding in the town of Sanski Most.

The Center for Peacebuilding (CIM) has been working for over a decade in Bosnia with the motto “Naš Put Je Mir” (“Our way ws peace”) in a mission to foster reconciliation among all the peoples of Bosnia. CIM’s inter-religious, multi-ethnic and inter-generational choir Harmonija will host Village Harmony in their home town. CIM’s co-founder, Vahidin Omanovic, an Islamic imam,  skilled peacemaker and visionary leader will be one of the chief organizers of the camp together with Samira Merdžanić, choral director extraordinaire from the town of Bugojno.

This year’s Bosnia camp is a rare, and exciting opportunity to participate in the inner workings of a non-governmental organization dedicated to fostering dialogue, non-violent communication, and intercultural cooperation in varied, creative ways. A portion of each day will be spent learning about, participating in and observing CIM’s vast, creative, visionary projects in peace building.

We will spend time on the Peace Farm (Garden of Possibilities) – an organic farm where peace camps with young people take place as well as environmental education projects with local school children.  And, we will have a special opportunity to observe the role of music, singing and community choirs as a direct means of fostering those goals.

The rehearsal week will take place at the Hotel Sanus in the western Bosnian town of Sanski Most on banks of the Sana River. In addition to working with the local choir Harmonija led by Alma Karabeg, we will have the opportunity to work with a number of excellent choral leaders from around Bosnia. After the rehearsal week we will have home stays with members of Harmonija, and perform several joint concerts in the area. From Sanski Most we will travel to several cities for more joint concerts with a wide variety of local choirs and home stays with local choir members.

Our tour will take us to Jajce, Donji Vakuf,  Bugojno, Konjic, Fojnica and finally Sarajevo for day picnicking in the mountains around Sarajevo with members of a local folklore ensemble followed by a joint concert in the city.

Participants in this camp will explore Bosnia’s rich, diverse vocal music from both village and urban traditions of the Croatian, Serbian and Muslim peoples who live there. We will learn ancient village styles, melodies based on narrow, non-tempered tones and sung with great dynamic intensity as well as songs from the great sevdalinka tradition – lyrical love songs of the urban Muslim population, often called the “Bosnian blues”.

We will also study the sacred music of Bosnia’s spiritual traditions – Orthodox, Catholic, and Islamic. Men on this trip will have a rare chance to learn traditional Sufi chants. A dance choreographer from a local ensemble will teach us folk dancing each morning to start our day.

Veteran leader Mary Cay Brass, who organized and directed Village Harmony’s first three Bosnia camps and four Macedonia camps, will be joined by popular Village Harmony alumnus and camp leader Avery Book. Together they will teach a set of American and South African songs.

We have gathered a wonderful group of skilled choral leaders and musicians from around Bosnia to teach a cornucopia of styles. Samira Merdžanić, who co-led a Village Harmony teen camp in New England this past summer and Alma Karabeg, director of CIM’s choir Harmonija are highly trained and inspiring choral leaders whose choirs will host us and with whom we will sing joint concerts. Muamer Ćukle, a singer with the Sejfullah Islamic Choir will teach the men ancient Sufi chants. And Zorana Guja and Lejla Čaušević, two dynamic, young ethno-musicologists from the Academy of Music in Sarajevo and members of the ethno choir,  Etno Akademik, will teach women’s village music.

This camp is open to teens 16 and older. There is a firm limit of 25 participants. While at the camp, most rooms will be doubles and triples until our home stays. We will stay 9 nights in small local hotels and 6 nights in home stays.





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Mary Cay Brass

MARY CAY BRASS of Athens, Vermont, co-directed at her first Village Harmony camp 27 years ago. She directs two very popular community choirs in Vermont and Massachusetts and is the co-musical director of Hallowell Hospice Choir. Mary Cay is also a dynamic contra-dance keyboardist and accordion player. She spent two and a half years in the former Yugoslavia on a Fulbright Scholarship in ethnomusicology. She has published two book/CD collections of music from that region. Mary Cay has  organized and led four Village Harmony trips to the Republic of Macedonia and three to Bosnia, with this fourth one planned for 2018.



Avery Book

Book-AveryAVERY BOOK, from Plainfield, Vermont has been involved with Village Harmony since 1999, initially as a teen camper and more recently as a camp director. Avery’s eclectic musical interests span the gamut from early music to traditional world folk to the music of social movements. He has traveled a number of times to The Republic of Georgia and is currently working on a set of educational recordings and transcriptions of traditional Georgian music.  Avery is a founder of two chapters of the Vermont Solidarity Singers, a group of singers and song leaders that lead and adapt songs for Vermont social and environmental justice movements. He is a member of a number of touring musical ensembles. When he isn’t singing, Avery is a community organizer.



Samira Merdzanic

samiraSAMIRA MERDZANIC was a dynamic co-leader at our 2016 Bosnia camp. She subsequently came to the US to teach at a Village Harmony teen camp during the summer of 2017. Samira teaches accordion and leads many choirs in her home town of Bugojno. Since 1996 she has led an all girls’ choir, Bugojno Vocal Ensemble which focuses on preserving the traditional and sacred vocal traditions of Bosnia and neighboring countries. (Two girls from this choir attended a Village Harmony teen camp in 2009.) She also leads a children’s choir and a choir focusing on Croatian folk and spiritual traditions in Bosnia. Samira is very active in promoting concerts, choir festivals and exchanges throughout Bosnia and the Balkans. At the 2018 Bosnia camp Samira will teach a diverse repertoire of traditional sevdalinka, village songs and sacred songs from all around Bosnia.



Vahidin Omanovic

Vahidin 2VAHIDIN OMANOVIC is the co-founder and co-director of the Center for Peacebuilding in Sanski Most, Bosnia.  He is an Islamic imam, and professional trainer in nonviolent communication with a masters degree in conflict transformation from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vermont. Vahidin experienced a personal transformation while participating in inter-ethnic dialogue and trauma healing sessions with an American organization in the 1990’s. He found that reconciliation was the only way forward in his country. He is the recipient of several peace prizes from international organizations and is in demand in many countries as a skilled peace builder. In addition to organizing many aspects of this camp he will be sharing his knowledge, skills and stories about peace building with all of us.



Hotel Sanus, Sanski Most, Bosnia

Rehearsal week will be at the Hotel Sanus in Sanski Most, Bosnia & Herzegovina.