Guide to SKOPJE

The Last Kemane Player: A lonely cry from Dose’s age-old kemane


Dose Angelov from the village of Stanci regularly visits Osogovo monastery to tell the story of his life through the sound of his a hundred-year-old instrument

kemane3A piercing sorrowful sound, as if coming from distant dark ages, echoes round the monastery day by day. Visitors pause for a moment and then start looking for the source of that mysterious and anguished melody.  They spot him on the opposite side of the monastery complex, somewhere near the monks’ dormitory. There sits Dose Angelov, an inconspicuous man with a shy and thoughtful look in his eyes, and one of the last kemane players in Macedonia.

The way he is holding the kemane in his hands makes you think he has long become one with this wooden instrument. He is moving his improvised bow over the steel strings looking into the distance, following the fading sound of the kemane. He is there to play for himself and for everybody else, all day long in the summer heat, hoping for a handful of denars or a tasty lunch to go through the day. Kemane1Over a hundred years old kemane

Dose says that he the instrument belonged to his grandfather and it has certainly been a hundred years since it first played its sound. It is made of walnut tree but he doesn’t have enough money for new strings so what he can find, usually steel ones.

– I play for the love of music. I inherited this kemane from my grandfather when I was a little child and I haven’t let go of it ever since. You can’t find an instrument like this anymore because they don’t make them as they used to, and kemane players are even scarcer. I might well be the last generation of kemane players. Young people are not interested in the instrument, and it is a specific instrument, one really needs to have the talent and desire to play it. – says Dose.

Dose comes from the village of Stanci and he is in his sixties now. He used to work in a textile factory “Karpos – dekor” from Kriva Palanka. During the years of transition he was made redundant and hasn’t been able to find a job since. His only comfort is the kemane because he manages to express his long lasting troubles through its sound.

Those were the days… We exported our products. We had a good life. Nowadays, it’s different. We are left with only our grief. We all have our own grief and express it in a different way.  – says Dose.KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

He plays for the love of music

Dose goes to St. Joakim Osogovski monastery almost every weekend during the summer. He plays for the love of music and for the tourists, foreign or domestic, who visit the place. Occasionally, a visitor gives him some money to his great satisfaction and gratitude. He doesn’t disturb anyone so the people from the monastery let him play his songs.

He still asks if there is any chance for him to play in Skopje and if anyone would be interested to listen to his songs. He wishes he could play in the capital but he can’t afford that. He has no place to stay or have a meal.

– It is expensive to travel every day. I buy a ticket, some food and spend all of my money. In the end, I am left with my vain wishes. I feel fine here, at least I’m on my turf. Sometimes foreigners come by, they stop and look at me, then they look at the kemane and back and forth again. – says the kemane player.Kemane2

Timeless melodies

After spending some time with Dose one gets a feeling that his melodies are timeless. The songs seem to have no beginning and no ending, as if he is telling an epic poem through his music day by day.

When our short conversation is over Dose takes the instrument in his hands, looks into the distance and begins a new musical story with the melancholic sound of the kemane.

Tose Ognanov/Telegraf MK