I have long been interested in popular music influences in my own music, and some people have made the observation that since popular music is the folk music of our time, I am in fact carrying on a long tradition of folk music influences in an art-music context. This work, Balkan Connection, takes as its starting point various influences from the Balkan region, specifically Macedonia and Greece. The first movement, Makedonsko Oro, takes as its starting point a Macedonian tune of the same name, which is apparently very popular at weddings and similar functions in its original country. Many of the typical characteristics of Macedonian music, such as additive rhythms, modal harmony, accompaniment patterns and melodic harmonizations have been deliberately employed in this movement. However, there are also many interjections which are more free. In contrast to this very vigorous opening movement, the second movement Nissyros takes a more subdued approach. The initial inspiration of this movement was that of an imagined old man, sitting on a verandah in Nissyros (Greece), singing a folk tune vaguely remembered from his childhood. Each repetition of the tune throughout the orchestra slowly builds to a large climax accompanied by strumming strings, before dying away once more. The ciaciak is a traditional Macedonian dance, typically in 6/8, and very energetic in character. As the title suggests, the last movement of Balkan Connection takes the ciaciak as its starting point, though in fact it only appears very briefly in the middle of the movement. It is surrounded by other musical material characteristic of the Balkan region as a whole, including a section alluding to the Middle-Eastern occupation of these countries many years previously.