Balkan nation conquered and divided by Rome in 168 BC, ruled by various countries in the ensuing centuries but surviving as a region and a culture with a language predominatly Slavic. It was partitioned in 1913 by Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia (now Serbian Yugoslavia). The influx to Canada of Macedonians from the villages near Kastoria and Florina in Greece began after 1903; of those from Yugoslavia, after 1945. In 1986 17,275 persons of Macedonian descent lived in Canada, many of them businessmen or restaurateurs in Toronto.
The musical life of the motherland has been maintained in the Macedonian communities in Canada, where some 20 associations have been established by groups from specific villages of Greece and Yugoslavia. Women continued in the 1920s and 1930s to gather each day for coffee, singing, and dancing; and in the 1970s the Kastoria-area women still practised a three-part vocal polyphony similar to that heard in Albania. Many of the older men play the kaval (flute) and a few play the gajda (bagpipe). A Macedonian Children's Orchestra of 40 instruments (mandolins and violins) performed at the 1938 CNE.
In the mid-1970s music was heard at dances and picnics sponsored by orthodox churches and by the village associations. It was a necessity at weddings and also was heard at engagements, christenings, and namedays. A dozen bands, consisting of clarinet, accordion, and drums, with the substitution or addition of saxophone, organ, electric guitar, and bouzouki, played a variety of dances: berache, armensko, and bufsko (12/8), na ramo and levoto (6/8), pajdushko (5/8), tsigansko (7/8), and the Greek dances syrto and chamiko. In the mid-1970s Macedonians in Toronto supported three dance and folksong ensembles, the most active of which, the Selyani Macedonian Folklore Group, directed by Olga Sandolowica, performed for the Society of Ethnomusicology (Toronto 1972), at the Montreal Olympics (1976), at the International Eisteddfod in Wales (1977), and for many years at the Mariposa Folk Festival. It made the LP Village Music of Macedonia (Selyani Productions 770 489).
Staro Selo, a six-member Toronto ensemble, performs traditional vocal and instrumental music of the Balkan region; its instrumental repertoire focuses on the songs and dances of Macedonia. The group, which was formed in 1987, has appeared at the Music Gallery, Ontario Place, at the WOMAD Festival in Harbourfront, and elsewhere, and it has been broadcast on radio and TV.