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“Jovano, Jovanke” is a haunting folk song from Macedonia, a
small country in the Balkan Peninsula. Due to its location,
culture and complex history, Middle Eastern influences are
prevalent in Balkan music, e.g. 7/8 meter and use of the Hijaz
or Phrygian Dominant mode. Nancie Kester originally heard
“Jovano, Jovanke” when she was taking a Balkan folk dance
class in college. Having been captivated by the melody, Nancie
created a choral setting in 2020.
The textual content of “Jovano, Jovanke” is a familiar one that
transcends cultures. Two young people are in love, but the girl’s
mother won’t let them be together.