Village Harmony

Summer ’21 Virtual Weekend Workshop Series

Date: Saturdays & Sundays from June 12 - August 31
Venue: Zoom
Leaders: Emma Björling, Matlakala Bopape, Patty Cuyler, Olaolu Lawal, Carl Linich, Bongani Magatyana, Samira Merdzanic, Ketevan Mindorashvili, Lonnie Norwood, Suzannah Park, Reza Saffari, Lala Simpson, Sandra Santos Canizares, Polina Shepherd, Adam Simon & Sophie Michaux, Elitsa Stoyneva Krastev, Mollie Stone, Brendan Taaffe, Nadia Tarnawsky, Frederic Vesperini, Nicholas Williams, Zedashe Ensemble
Price: $330 - $75 tiered tuition, based on your ability to pay

Join us for a full summer of weekend song workshops. Each of the 22 workshops in the series will be unique; all will be led by experts in their music genres.

Traditions represented include: Appalachian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Corsican, Cuban, Georgian, Gospel, Iranian, Malagasy, Nigerian, Quebecois, South African, Swedish, Ukrainian, Yiddish and singer-songwriter taught new songs in English.

The workshop series will begin on Saturday, June 12th and will take place every weekend—except July 3-4—through Sunday, August 31st.

These live, hour-long interactive zoom workshops will take place on Saturdays at 8pm ET, and on Sundays at 1pm ET.

If you are in a time zone that does not permit you to watch live on one of these days, don’t forget that you will be able to watch the zoom lesson on video afterward. You will also have full access to the online resource materials for those lessons.

June 12 – Suzannah Park (Appalachia)
June 13 – Frederic Vesperini (Corsica)

CORSICA SPECIALTY WEEK continues June 14-18

June 19 – Nicholas Williams (Quebec)
June 20 – Samira Merdzanic (Bosnia)

June 26 – Carl Linich (Georgia)
June 27 – Matlakala Bopape (South Africa)

July 10 – Sophie Michaux & Adam Simon (original songs)
July 11 – Emma Björling (Sweden)

July 17 – Elitsa Stoyneva Krastev (Bulgaria)
July 18 – Reza Saffari (Iran)

IRANIAN SPECIALTY WEEK continues July 19-23 

July 24 – Lala Simpson (Madagascar)
July 25 – Ketevan Mindorashvili (Georgia)

July 31 – Lonnie Norwood (Black church music)
August 1 – Zedashe Ensemble Concert (Georgia)

August 7 – Suzannah Park #2 (Appalachia)
August 8 – Nadia Tarnawsky (Ukraine)

UKRAINIAN SPECIALTY WEEK continues August 9-13

August 14 – Brendan Taaffe (original songs)
August 15 – Polina Shepherd (UK; Yiddish)

August 21 – Sandra Santos Canizares (Cuba)
August 22 – Bongani Magatyana (South Africa)

August 28 – Lonnie Norwood #2 (Black church music)
August 29 – Olaolu Lawal (Nigeria)

The workshop series will be hosted on Village Harmony’s Thinkific online learning platform, where following each teaching session, pronunciation, demonstration performances, voice parts recordings, word sheets and scores (as appropriate) will be uploaded as resources for our participants.

All of the live zoom workshops will be recorded and posted as well, making it possible for those for whom it is impractical to attend a class (due to work, living in a different time zone, or because of one of life’s inevitable tribulations) to still fully participate.

The background resource files, audio tracks and recorded zoom lessons will remain available to participants through June 2022.

Full tuition for the 22 hour-long sessions, plus access to the online learning platform resources, is $330, with a tier of self-selected fee options as low as $75.
We acknowledge that the financial impact of the pandemic era has been uneven. We have set full tuition for the workshops series at a level needed to generously support our faculty but we are also offering a tier of self-chosen reduced price options, with the hope of allowing all who wish to join in to be able to do so.

If you are in a position to do so, you may also make a tax-deductible donation over and above your tuition when you register.


Apply Now!


Emma Björling

Emma Björling is one of the leading singers of Swedish folk songs performing these days. She is a member of the bands Lyy and Skye Consort with Emma Björling, as well as vocal groups Kongero and Baravox. She has also toured widely with the well-known Swedish folk band Ranarim. Emma has been performing in choirs since the age of six, and studied both jazz and classical music before returning to the traditional music she first heard her grandfather play on the fiddle. She teaches at a folk music college and at the Department of Music and Media in Piteå, conducts workshops in traditional Swedish music, and writes arrangements for choirs and vocal groups.

Matlakala Bopape

matlakalalgMATLAKALA BOPAPE, of Polokwane, South Africa, is the director of Polokwane Choral Society—a community-based group whose aim is nurturing musical talent in African society. As a director, Matlakala is committed to drawing out musical excellence from her singers, as well as exposing them to musical cultures of the world. Her limitless patience, careful attention to vocal technique, and rich repertoire of folk and contemporary South African choral music make her a formidable teacher. Matlakala’s first taught with Village Harmony in Italy in 2000 after a fortuitous initial meeting with Patty & Larry at Festival 500 in St. John, Newfoundland the previous summer


Patty Cuyler

Patty Cuyler photoPATTY CUYLER, born in California, educated at Princeton University, long-time resident of Vermont and currently living in Chicago, IL, is an energetic, dynamic workshop leader and choral director and is internationally-renowned for her expertise in teaching Corsican, Georgian and South African music. She has been co-director of Village Harmony since 1995 and over the years spear-headed the expansion of the organization’s reach into the four corners of the globe. It was primarily Patty’s vision and labor that shaped Village Harmony’s response to the pandemic year.

Patty has co-led Village Harmony’s community world music choir Boston Harmony (which she founded) since 2005 as well as the Chicago World Music Chorus (2013) closer to home.









Olaolu Lawal

Olaolu Lawal is an arranger and composer of African choral music, currently living in Norway where he is a doctoral student in ethnomusicology in Trondheim. Ola’s works such as Gunugun and Kabiyesi have been performed at several choral events across Nigeria, Africa and in the World Choir Games. Ola is also a record producer and a recording artist and is currently recording an album of a collection of Yoruba folk songs that are reproduced via an amalgamation of live and digitally sampled percussion instruments.

Carl Linich

Carl-LinichCARL LINICH has been a scholar, teacher,and performer of traditional Georgian polyphonic singing since 1990, and is a member of TrioKavkasia. A fluent Georgian speaker, Carl lived in Georgia for 10 years, and received two prestigious merit awards from the Georgian government in recognition of his work to promote and preserve Georgian folk music. He has worked on numerous publications related to Georgian folk music for the Tbilisi State Conservatory, the State Folklore Center of Georgia, and the International Centre for Georgian Folk Song. Carl has been leading Village Harmony camps since 2000, and toured with Northern Harmony in 2001 and 2002. He currently directs the Supruli Ensemble in New York City and a Georgian choir at Bard College, and sings in a family trio with his two sons.


Bongani Magatyana

BONGANI MAGATYANA is a professional singer /music director /composer /theatrical producer living in Gugulethu Township in Cape Town, South Africa.

He was born in Cape Town in a township called Old Crossroads; his father was a self-taught choir conductor in the Old Apostolic Church. Bongani’s father taught him how to read and write tonic solfa music notation at a young age, and young Bongani dreamt of becoming a church choir conductor, too. Today he conducts a 120-voice OAC choir himself, as well as a community male choir.

Bongani’s folk-inspired choral compositions—popular pieces for South Africa’s major choral competitions—are sung by choirs around South Africa and internationally. Currently Bongani teaches at the Zolani Centre in Langa Township, leads an educational musical theatre company, and continues to compose music in a variety of genres, bringing vibrant performances to communities across Cape Town.

Bongani has been teaching with Village Harmony since 2012, co-leading annual study-performance camps and workshops in South Africa, the US and the EU.  A dancer as well as singer, and he is particularly adept at communicating the elusive rhythms of South African songs.




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. 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.


Ketevan Mindorashvili

mindorashviliketevanlgKetevan Mindorashvili was born in Sighnaghi in the eastern province of Kakheti in (the Republic of) Georgia. She was raised in a traditional singing family. Founder and director of the Zedashe Ensemble, Keto showed a gift for singing since childhood and continued to study music technique extensively in university. She devoted herself to preserving traditions on the brink of disappearance, and has become known as a singer and a teacher of Georgian folk music, particularly the fluid ornamentation of eastern folk songs. She has a deep knowledge of ancient church chant, and is a master of the panduri, the three-stringed lute from the eastern Georgian region of Kakheti.

Keto has searched valleys and mountains for ancient polyphony, collecting folk songs and chants, as well as writing her own music within the tradition. Today she hosts students from all over the world in her native Sighnaghi and travels internationally leading tours of Zedashe and teaching workshops. She has appeared on all Zedashe recordings to date, and has participated in numerous tours to the United States, United Kingdom, and throughout Europe. Keto has been teaching Village Harmony groups in Georgia (and in Corsica in 2014) since 2003.


Lonnie Norwood

Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, LONNIE NORWOOD, JR, grew up with an unquenchable passion for music and community service. A conductor with Chicago Childrens’ Choir, Lonnie is active as a choral clinician, helping educators and ensembles understand the historical significance, vocal technique, and the social justice aspects of gospel music and African American spirituals. Recent work has included workshops with ensembles at the University of Chicago, teaching & singing with Village Harmony in South Africa, musical exchanges with members of the Bahamas National Youth Choir and Bahamian musicians, BFli Young Artists Camp at ETA Theater Chicago, and with SongRoots (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) teaching gospel and spirituals. He has also begun authoring articles along these lines of interests.

Suzannah Park

SuzannahVH-2013SUZANNAH PARK comes from a family of three generations of ballad singers, storytellers, and dancers and lives in the North Carolina mountains of her birth. She began teaching at Village Harmony in 2000 after participating as a camper since the age of twelve. Her joyous and intuitive teaching style, born of a lifetime of familiarity with traditional music, makes singers old and young feel at home in the songs that she shares and with each other. Whether she is teaching American ballads, South African songs and dances or Appalachian clogging, laughter and good times abound. When not on tour with Village Harmony Suzannah leads the Wild Asheville Community Chorus and kicks up her heels with the Green Grass Cloggers.


Reza Saffari

Reza Saffari (born May 23, 1991), is an Iranian pop singer, songwriter, actor, painter and illustrator from Gilan Province in northwestern Iran. Reza started learning solfège and music theory since he was 13. Four years later, at the age of 17, he started his career as a pop singer. He also is in love with, and likes to perform, traditional folk music from his home region Gilan, sung in the Gilaki dialect. A good way to get an idea of what Reza is up to is by going to his YouTube channel:

Lala Simpson

Lala Simpson comes from the musically diverse Island of Madagascar. She permanently moved to New Zealand in 2002.  Lala grew up immersed in the music and dance of her homeland and that of France, the Islands of the Indian Ocean and Africa. Lala speaks 3 languages fluently and applies her skills for learning a new language to learn songs from other cultures. She runs regular open community singing workshop in Wellington and around New Zealand teaching her original songs and songs from other countries.

Sandra Santos Canizares

DSC_2065A pianist and conservatory student from an early age and graduate in choral conducting from Cuba’s Conservatorio Amadeo Roldán, Sandra Santos was a solo singer and children’s choir director before joining the prize-winning women’s ensemble Vocal Luna as director.  In 2007 she founded the girl’s choir Lunitas. In 2011 Sandra assumed directorship of Coral Children of Musica Antigua; and in 2013 she founded the youth choir Young Cantoras.

Sandra was one of Village Harmony’s teachers in Havana at our 2017 and 2018 camps in Cuba. We are thrilled that Sandra is now living in Bloomington, IN.




Polina Shepherd

Polina Shepherd (Skovoroda) was born in Siberia and grew up in a home where songs were regularly sung at a family table. Now an internationally-renowned singer, she brings the songs of the Steppes and the Shtetl up to date with passion and haunting soul. Her singing, though based on traditional forms, cuts a sound deeply rooted in east European Jewish and Russian folk. Growing up in Tatarstan also placed her close to Islamic ornamentation and timbre, which can be heard in her unique vocal style and four-octave range.

While living in Kazan (capital of Tatarstan, Central Russia) and studying at the State Academy, Polina joined Russiaʹs first klezmer band after Perestroika, Simcha (1990-2000). She soon became the principal Yiddish choir leader of the former Soviet Union, composing original material for large groups of voices and touring internationally with her Quartet Ashkenazim (1991-2007).

Polina moved to the UK in 2003. A pianist and composer as well as performing artist, she also  works as an educator leading choral workshops internationally. Polina’s specially-developed choral teaching methods are based on specific East European sound, ornamentation, modal experimentation with attention to stylistic details, history and context.

Adam Simon & Sophie Michaux

Adam Simon—born and raised in Cambridge, MA— and his wife, French mezzo-soprano Sophie Michaux, are avid folk singers performing frequently with Northern Harmony. As the folk music duo “Sophie et Adam” alongside they frequently perform a varied repertoire of European and American folk music, including their own compositions and arrangements. An accomplished composer, Adam has enjoyed many recent performances and commissions from nationally acclaimed ensembles. Sophie’s unique background—born in London but raised in the French Alps—informs her artistic identity, making her feel at home in an eclectic span of repertoire ranging from grand opera to French cabaret songs. The two will teach one of Adam’s original songs and, time permitting, a traditional Croatian klapa song.

Elitsa Stoyneva Krastev

Elitsa Stoyneva Krastev is a seven-time gold medalist in traditional folk singing from Bulgaria. Elitsa graduated from a professional music school and she has performed at numerous concerts and competitions in Bulgaria and around the world. After coming to the United States, Elitsa continued to sing and has been a special guest singers in many music halls, including Berklee Performance Center in Boston, the Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn and Sanders Theater at Harvard University.

Mollie Stone

Mollie Stone

MOLLIE STONE is a Chicago native internationally renowned for her workshops on black South African choral music. Mollie served as a conductor at Chicago Children’s Choir from 2005-2020 and has been director of the University of Chicago’s two largest choirs since 2011. Mollie earned her master’s degree in classical choral conducting from Westminster Choir College and her conducting doctorate from Northwestern University. In 2001, she received a grant from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation to create a DVD, Vela, Vela, to help educators learn and teach black South African choral music in the oral tradition. In 2006, Mollie received another grant to study how South Africans are using choral music in the struggle against HIV, which became the topic of her highly-acclaimed doctoral thesis. Mollie has been teaching with Village Harmony since 2009.

Brendan Taaffe

Brendan-TaaffejpgBRENDAN TAAFFE, based in Brattleboro, has been leading singing workshops around the world since 2004. An active composer, he specializes in American harmony styles and Zimbabwean makwayera style singing. In 2011, Brendan spent a month working with choirs in Zimbabwe to document songs from that tradition. He is a founding member of the Bright Wings Chorus and directs Turtle Dove, an organization that runs singing camps for adults. Brendan is also a multi-instrumentalist on guitar, fiddle, banjo, and mbira and holds an M.A. in performance from the Irish World Music Centre at the University of Limerick.




Nadia Tarnawsky

TarnawskyNadiaNadia Tarnawsky has been studying Eastern European singing techniques for nearly three decades. In 2002 she received a Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship which allowed her to travel to Ukraine to collect folk songs and folklore. She has taught Ukrainian village style singing in workshops for the Center for Traditional Music and Dance in New York city, Village Harmony in Vermont and Oregon, the Kitka Women’s Vocal Ensemble in San Francisco, and the Black Forest Fancies in New Orleans among others. In 2011 she received a Traditional Arts Fellowship from Artist Trust. She sang under the tutelage of Yevgeny Yefremov with Ensemble Hilka of New York in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Chornobyl disaster in Ukraine.  A recording of this repertoire was recently released on the Smithsonian Folkways label.


Frederic Vesperini

Frederic VesperiniSpartimu EnsembleFREDERIC VESPERINI of Ajaccio, Corsica is a long-time member (and currently director) of Ensemble Spartimu. Specializing in the traditional folk and sacred polyphony of Corsica, the ensemble is regularly invited to in prestigious international festivals, most recently including trips to Sardinia, to Poland and to Tbilisi, Georgia. Over the past decade the ensemble has have added brilliant performances of music from the Republic of Georgia to their repertoire. Spartimu has recorded two CDs. Village Harmony has met to share music with Fred and Spartimu in Ajaccio on nearly every trip we have made to Corsica since 2004.


Nicholas Williams

Nicholas Williams has developed a reputation as a versatile and sought-after musician in the traditional music scenes of Québec and New England.  His rhythmic yet nuanced style of flute playing draws from Irish and Scottish traditions, as well as from his studies of classical North Indian music.

After completing a BFA in world music and composition at York University, Nicholas moved to Québec in 2000, where he has enjoyed exploring the common ground of his own diverse musical experiences with the rich Québécois musical tradition.

Also an accomplished accordion and piano player, he has been a member of the band Genticorum since 2000, in Crowfoot since 2005, plays with fiddler Laura Risk, and also is half of the Alex Kehler & Nicholas Williams duo.

Zedashe Ensemble

zedashe-dancingZedashe Ensemble, directed by Ketevan Mindorashvili, was founded in the mid-1990s to sing repertoire that had been largely lost during the Communist era. The group is known for their performance of ancient three-part chants from the Orthodox Christian liturgy, folk songs from the Kiziqian region as collected from village song-masters and old publications, and folk dances from the region. The group’s name is taken from the special earthenware jug, or zedashe, that was buried under the family home for the purpose of making wine.