For a hard rock trio, you need a guitar, a bass and drums. For a string quartet: two violins, a viola and a cello. But for traditional music here in Moldova, get an accordion, a cobza, a nai and a tobă, as well as some people with great voices. You know what an accordion is. A cobza is a Moldovan lute, with eight strings. A nai is a pan flute, similar to those played in Bolivia. A tobă is a traditional drum.
The musicians you see here play these instruments. They come from Constești, the village where Champa lived during her pre-service training. The lead singer, shown in the larger photo, is Tudor Grigoriţă, a colleague and friend of mine at the Consiliul Raional in Ialoveni. He organizes cultural activities for the entire county, or raion, of which Costești is a part. I usually see him wearing a suit, so it’s fun to watch him perform. That’s him in the video interacting with the nai, or flute, player, who is the music teacher in Costești.
Costești is near Ialoveni, where Champa and I live now. On Saturday, we traveled there to visit Champa’s host family and to meet Mary Pendleton, the first American ambassador to Moldova, from 1992-1995, after Moldova gained its independence from the former Soviet Union.
We expected an informal gathering where Amb. Pendleton, now retired, would share some memories. Since she was a Peace Corps volunteer herself in Tunisia earlier in her career, she also wanted to meet some current volunteers. The mayor of Costești, Natalia Petrea, surprised us with a much grander event — a delicious meal at a beautiful local resort, with entertainment provided by this reknown local musical group. That’s the mayor, or primara, in the purple dress, next to the former ambassador, in pink.
Moldova, which shares many of its musical traditions with Romania, has other instruments, too, such as the bucium (a long alphorn), the kaval (an end-blown flute) and the cimbalom (a kind of dulcimer). But as you can see and hear for yourself, the ones shown here are quite enough to produce beautiful music together.