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2019 folk music highlights

Successful concerts, new albums and even two records

The performers of traditional Bulgarian folk music brought much delight to their fans also this year, giving them emotional moments and surprising them with new achievements. In the history of 2019, there will be dozens of successful concerts in our country and around the world, new albums, festive events and even two records ... We have already brought you more about some of them, you will probably find out about others now.

The female folk choir “The Angels” with conductor Katya Barulova recorded in her creative biography a new CD and several really exciting stage performances. At the end of September, the choir gave concerts in five cities in Japan as part of the three anniversary celebrations of the two countries’ bilateral relations: 80 years since diplomatic relations were established, 60 years since their restoration and 110 years since official contacts began. “One of the concerts was a joint appearance of “The Angels and Mr. Mitsuda, who is among the most famous composers of video games music. The audience's interest in us was huge. At the Sumida Triphony Hall in Tokyo, in front of an audience of about 2,000 people, we sang with the Japanese band Hosihigatami - three ladies playing the traditional Japanese sho instrument. The project is called "Prayer for Harmony", and the hosts had previously selected from our repertoire the songs "Tri byulbyula" by Peter Krumov, "Dulber Yana" by Tasho Barulov and "Mehmetyo" by Ivan Spassov. We also performed two Japanese songs. The organizers also promoted our new album entitled Heritage, saying they had record sales. After Japan we had a very successful tour in Germany and Belgium”, the group’s conductor Katya Barulova said.


The National Folklore Ensemble Philip Koutev started the 2019-2020 season with a glamorous performance, representing important moments of a traditional Bulgarian wedding. It is entitled "Ela se vie, previva” – one of the iconic songs ever performed when the bride was taken from her father's home. Created in 1951 by the renowned Bulgarian composer whose name it bears, the ensemble has given more than 7,000 concerts in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. Today the leader is Prof. Elena Kouteva – the daughter of the founder. The team also includes conductor Georgi Andreev and choreographer Ivaylo Ivanov, who continue the tradition by seeking (where possible) contemporary means of expression. Such is the new production of the ensemble which is a renewed version of a show by Margarita Dikova based on music by Philip Koutev, which premiered in 1964, combined with three new music and dance works. In addition to presenting this show at Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture, the musicians and dancers presented it in different cities of the country, including Varna, where the next recording was made.


Pirin, one of the most attractive folklore ensembles in Bulgaria, celebrates its 65th anniversary with a series of concerts, successful tours and a prestigious award from an international festival.

The peak for the group this year was in October, with their concert in the Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture.Only three years younger than the National Folklore Ensemble Philip Koutev, the Pirin Ensemble has a rich repertoire of authentic and cultivated specimens from Pirin, as well as from all the folklore regions of this country. More than 10,000 concerts in front of more than 7 million viewers in this country and in more than 60 countries around the world - this is the balance after the long path we travelled, a significant part of which is with the long-time chief conductor Kiril Stefanov, whose successor today is the famous folk singer Danislav Kehayov.


The holders of the lowest and strongest voices in the world are both Bulgarian women, and both of whom are representatives of the Rhodope folklore region. This has been documented in the Guinness World Records and established by all rules. At the end of 2018, Smilyana Zaharieva proved that she has the most powerful voice you can imagine - its power exceeds 130 decibels. This does not mean that she constantly sings so loud one can hardly hear the sound of the one Hundred Kaba Gaidi orchestra and can “break a glass”, singing with a full voice. Her album "Shto sam ti storil, devoiko" was released back in 1997, and she sang there with the Plovdiv Orchestra and the unsurpassed bagpipe player Dafo Trendafilov.


We do not know how many women in the world can sing а B flat note on the counter octave (the lowest tonal area that the human ear can detect), but Bulgarian female singer Mariana Pavlova has registered this record, exceeding the previous one by a major third, which is by no means a small achievement

We know Mariana from the Rhodopea trio, where with her famous mother Hristina Lyutova and Verginia Ovcharova – three alto voices, three wonderful singers. She was part of the Rhodopa Ensemble based in Smolyan, of Vanya Moneva Choir (then called the Cosmic VoicesChoir), of Dragostin Folk. Today I asked her to send me a song because I never found one. I knew I was going to get the answer, "I don’t’ have one!" Mariana has been living in London for about ten years (she went there to help her daughter's family), but she never stopped traveling with various formations, teaching in master classes yet she longs to return to Bulgaria for at least a little while. And she will surely do it. Just like thousands of our compatriots who have found their way abroad. Because the holidays are that special moment that touches the heart and reminds us of our roots, of our inherited emotional and spiritual place of belonging.


Written by Albena Bezovska

Photos: library

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