1983 I was living next door to the much respected folklorist, Lucille Armstrong. Lucille had many musical friends who came to visit her. One of her oldest friends was Narendra Kotiyan, who was very much into international folk music from many different countries and had been a founding member of Dunav.
On hearing from Lucille that a young violin player lived next door, Naren asked to be introduced over tea. He was enthusiastic and encouraging and invited me to attend my first rehearsal. I found that the whole group consisted of talented and knowledgeable people, and immediately agreed to tag along, despite knowing next to nothing about the Balkans or Balkan folk music. After some time playing at rehearsals, I was invited to join and perform with the group.
This was monumental: the friendship and talents of this new group of people in my life helped to steer me along a journey of discovery about different cultures which always made the next rehearsal or gig an unmissable highlight. Soon, I was travelling to Bulgaria with them and playing in all sorts of venues and festivals. Dunav members have gone on to be my constant friends and we have had many good times together.
Narendra was always very keen on bringing international folk music and dance to young people. I am pleased that I was able to bring Dunav to a couple of the schools I have worked in over the years since the 1980s.