Photo credit /  Jelena C. Sekara

Folklore Avala

Who are we?
Founded in 1954, the folklore group in Montreal has functioned under the auspices of the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church. The folklore group was called “Belgrade”, then “Unity” and “Avala”, and finally, the members themselves began to use the name “KUD Avala”.

Note: In Serbian, ‘KUD’ is an acronym for ‘cultural arts society’ and ‘Avala’ is the name of a beautiful hill on the outskirts of Serbia’s capital Belgrade.

The rehearsals are held in the reception hall of the church, and folklore ensembles participate in all important cultural events and Orthodox Christian holidays. KUD Avala consists of a folklore dance group and an adult choir. Over the course of each year, the dance groups work hard learning the steps and choreographies of traditional Serbian dances. From teacher to dancer, the love of dancing is transmitted and shared. The group has three ensembles:

First (from 15 years old and up),
Second (10-14 years old)
Third (4-9 years old)
The adult choir “Pearls” (Biseri in Serbian), is a unique component of our KUD.

Photo credit /  Jelena C. Sekara

What we do: The folklore instructors choose the dances that will be part of the annual program. Our diverse repertoire includes dances from many regions that have been inhabited by Serbs. Once to twice per year, we organize folklore festivals: we gather in large numbers to enjoy performances of our dancers and invited guests – some Serbian and others not. Of course, it cannot be complete without a feast of homemade Serbian food and fun until dawn. We travel to festivals hosted by other Serbian folklore groups from all over Canada and United States. Finally, we proudly work on renewing our collection of national costumes in which dances are performed.

Photo credit /  Jelena C. Sekara

How we do it: Our rehearsals are held Friday evenings for the First and the Second ensembles, and the youngest group rehearses on Sundays. Most parents participate in different ways to help our arts society function, and the Avala Management Board makes sure everything runs smoothly. The board has a president, a secretary, a treasurer, and other members; these functions are held by parent-volunteers who donate their time and experience, and above all their love and good will, to support the celebration of our rich cultural heritage. The management of KUD Avala is elected at annual assemblies, and everything takes place with the blessing of our beloved priest Father Djordje.

Photo credit /  Sladjana Sekara

What makes us special: Our society is an all-inclusive enterprise: there are no auditions and everyone who wants to join is welcome. KUD Avala is a small society and the number of members changes from year to year: the older dancers move on and new generations come along. Management and dance instructors may come and go, but the sense of pride, the drive to learn and grow through songs and dances reminding us of our homeland, continue to be transferred from generation to generation for over 60 years and counting

How to contact us? For all information, please contact us via e-mail: .

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The Pearls Choir

Way back in 2007 a series of significant events unfolded. A promising young man named Novak Djokovic appeared on the world tennis stage. Maria Serifovic represented Serbia won the Eurovision Song Contest with her song “Prayer”. In September of the same year, in the small Serbian community in Montreal, a choir performing our traditional and old-town music was founded under the name The Old-Town Pearls. In the coming years, this choir will mark and sculpt cultural events of the local diaspora.

Photo credit /  Jelena C. Sekara

Initially a group of exclusively male singers numbering five under the conductor’s baton and piano accompaniment of a renowned mezzo-soprano, Martina Govednik, the choir soon began to attract female vocalists. It begins performing with increasing frequency at events organized by KUD Avala and the Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church-School Congregation.

The following year, 2008, “The Old Town Pearls” began with solo concerts and evenings of poetry. Up to this day, they continue the tradition of annual concerts in which diverse thematic repertoires are presented. In the initials years, the program consisted of the most known folk, old-town and traditional songs, but by 2012 the choir began to experiment with other genres of music, and therefore shortening its name to simply “Pearls”. Concerts follow; mostly in Montreal, but also other North America locations such as Boston, NYC, Portland, Ottawa, Toronto, and Sherbrooke. The titles of each concert largely determine the themes covered: “A Wacky Evening I and II”, “Montreal Spring”, “Why Go Home So Early?”, “This Is My Song”, and others.

In mid-2014, the choir’s music director, Martina Govednik left Montreal and The Pearls. The Pearls began the 2014-2015 season led by a new brother-sister team: Nikola (violin) and Maša (piano) Manojlovic, with whom they continued their musical journey. They soon enriched their sound with other musical instruments, and along with the piano and violin their songs are now accompanied by guitars and accordions.

In September 2016, The Pearls perform as guests of the Quebec string quartet Quatrouvailles by presenting a mix of Serbian and Macedonian songs, with which they close the concert and are greeted by the ovations of a classical music audience.

Photo credit /  Jelena C. Sekara

In December 2017, Nikola and Maša leave the choir, handing the reins over to Boris Bartula, who leads it to this day. In parallel with their musical work, “The Pearls” actively participate in humanitarian and fund-raising events: in 2014, the entire revenue of their annual concert of over CAD $8,000 was donated to the Tsar Lazar humanitarian fund, and the funds were used to assist flood victims in Serbia and Republika Srpska.

“The Pearls” is a choir sustained by friendship, the love of music and a nostalgic need to bridge the barriers of time and space. With its recognizable style, it continues to present a broad repertoire to its audience. Pieces heard at concerts include folk and forgotten songs, the jolting notes of seductive and humorous songs laced with harmless eroticism, echoed by nostalgic tones of the popular music and film scores from legendary Yugoslav movies. Since its inception in over ten years, these musical novices managed to impress their audiences, to get under their skin, to make them laugh, but also to awaken memories and draw a tear or two.

Information for all who are interested to join us:

Fall season: Sept to December, Friday rehearsal at 8:00 pm
Winter season: January to May, Fridays at 8:00 pm
Location: Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church
349 Avenue Melville, Westmount, QC H3Z 2J8.