Worldwide tribute to Bulgarian Folk Music

Bulgarian music in Amsterdam Amsterdam, Netherlands

Ensemble Chubritsa is a Dutch ensemble performing Bulgarian folklore music. The ensemble consists of mixed choir and instrumentalists. It sings some à cappella songs, while other performances are accompanied by accordion, tapan, and clarinet. Chubritsa (Cyrillic: чубрица) is the name of a typical Bulgarian herb, like savory, and is widely used in meals. Their conductor is Svetla Kleijn-Anastasova. She was born in Bulgaria and started with music and dance at an early age. Svetla studied at the music gymnasium for Bulgarian folk music in Shiroka Laka. She subsequently obtained her diploma in choral conducting at the Academy of Music and Art in Plovdiv.

Visiting Amsterdam in January? Don’t forget to book your tickets to their New Year concert. They will perform in front of a live audience on the 7th of January 2024.

Bulgarian music in London London, England

The London-based choir sings in Bulgarian. They are led by Dessislava Stefanova. Mrs. Stefanova grew up in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria, and as a child performed with “Zagorche”, a folk music and dance troupe. At 18, she was accepted as a singer into the National Folk Music and Dance Ensemble, directed by Philip Koutev.

The London Bulgarian choir is on a journey to find the ancient resonance in the depth of the human heart. On their 18th anniversary, the London Bulgarian Choir recorded their album “Songs of Forbidden Love”. They have toured around Bulgaria, Switzerland, Amsterdam, France, and Poland.

Bulgarian music in Zurich Zürich, Switzerland

Dessi Stefanova ran her first workshop in Switzerland in April of 2011, and on that occasion, a decision was made to create the Swiss Bulgarian Choir. In the time between Dessi’s workshops, members of the choir meet irregularly in smaller groups to practice. There are three of these smaller groups: one in Zürich, one in northeastern Switzerland, and one in western Switzerland. Members of the Swiss Bulgarian Choir have a chance to learn some basic techniques and special vocal effects (like shaking and hiccoughing). Bulgarian songs are often sung in two or three-part harmony and sometimes imitate the sounds of instruments.

Bulgarian music in Copenhagen Copenhagen, Denmark

USMIFKA (Bulgarian for “smile” – усмивка) is a women’s choir consisting of 28 talented singers. They are artistically and musically led by conductor Anne Louise Munch. Their repertoire consists mainly of Bulgarian folk music arranged for women’s choirs in the 1950s by famous Bulgarian composers such as Philip Koutev and Petar Lyondev. These arrangements became known in the West through the choir “Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares”. Anne Louise has on several occasions, both as singer and conductor, participated in workshops and received private lessons from the choir’s long-time mentor, the Bulgarian singer and conductor Tzvetanka Varimezova.

Bulgarian music in Copenhagen Aarhus, Denmark

The Aarhus women’s choir Sedjanka specializes in singing Bulgarian folk songs in modern polyphonic arrangements. The choir, which consists of almost 20 singers, has existed since 1994 and is led by the renowned Bulgarian conductor Michael Deltchev. The word “sedjanka” (Cyrillic: седянка) is an old Bulgarian word for an informal gathering of men and women where they socialise or sing together. Back in 2014 one of the highlights was when the choir participated in the international choir festival “Chernomorski Zvutsi” in Balchik, Bulgaria, and won the category “Best Folk Music Choir”.

Bulgarian music in Sweden Stockholm, Sweden

Perunika is a vocal ensemble located in Stockholm, established in August 2014. The shared interest in the open timbre of the chest voice without vibrato sparked the idea to form a female vocal ensemble together with the Bulgarian conductor Michael Deltchev. Perunika (Cyrillic: Перуника) is a name of a popular flower in Bulgaria. The music is performed in Bulgarian in different styles that emphasize the different origins of the songs. Text and embellishments express the differences in the ethnographic and folk musical regions of Bulgaria.

Balchik, Bulgaria

Visit Bulgaria in June and head to the seaside town of Balchik. It is famous for the Palace of former Romanian Queen Maria and a lovely Botanical Garden with breathtaking views of the Black Sea. During the summer, this coastal town becomes a cultural hotspot welcoming artists from around the world. The International Choir Festival “Chernomorski Zvutsi” is a true celebration of song and harmony. The festival organisers welcome Bulgarian and foreign non-professional choirs and vocal groups of all types and categories, including folk choirs.

Who is Petar Lyondev?

Professor Petar Lyondev is a renowned Bulgarian composer and pedagogue. Two of his most performed choral songs “Ergen deda” (written in 1975) and “Kaval sviri” (written in 1979) were included in the CDs of the Swiss producer Marcel Sellier and gained popularity worldwide. The song “Kaval Sviri” won the prestigious Grammy Award in Los Angeles in 1990. It has been performed by over 80 choirs from around the world, including Bucknell University Choir USA, French Traveling Choir (Le Choir De Vayageur), Gurt Lush Choir from Bristol, England, New Zealand Nelson Women’s College, Ohio University Women’s Ensemble, Montreux Cherry Hill College Women’s Choir, Bloomington Augustana Choir, choirs from Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Greece, Cyprus, Slovenia, Serbia, France, Germany, Japan, China, and Russia.