Virtual Dance Room
(Santa Clara, CA)

Svirači (pronounced SVEE-rah-chee) is a three-member band that plays traditional village-style Macedonian and Bulgarian music for folk dancers, plus some Scandinavian folk dance tunes. In 1974, after the very first week-long Balkan Music Camp (at Sweet's Mill, above Fresno, CA) a number of South-Bay/Peninsula residents who had attended decided they should get together again and play together. Members of the original early-days Svirači included Peter Ward (accordion, tambura), Mike Gage (clarinet, Bulgarian kaval), Gary Breitbard (violin, gudulka) as well as the current members Jim Little (string bass, gajda, and violin), Melissa Miller (flute, kaval), and Lewis Smith (percussion and tambura).

Svirači had an urban as well as a village repertoire back then, because they had the instrumentation; however, within a few years, as Pete, Mike, and Gary had changes in their personal lives, they left Svirači and the group settled into exploring the village repertoire more deeply. Melissa began singing in public with the group at about that same time. For a time in the 1980s, Kip McAtee, now living in Hawaii, joined the group on tambura. When Jim took up playing Swedish bagpipe, they added some Scandinavian music to their repertoire. They also have more urban style pieces using fiddle, voice, tambura, and percussion.

  • Melissa Miller (Bulgarian and Macedonian vocals, Bulgarian and Macedonian kaval, tambourine)
  • Lew Smith (tupan, dumbek, Bulgarian and Macedonian tambura)
  • Jim Little (Bulgarian and Macedonian gajdas, tupan, Swedish säckpipa, fiddle, Macedonian tambura)