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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Best of Bulgarika

Music happens to be an art form that transcends language.
Herbie Hancock

Although I understand very little Bulgarian, their folk music speaks to me, and to many other fans of it as well.  When a Bulgarian folk ensemble comes to play, few people sit down (except perhaps to rest for the next dance).  The rhythms are compelling and sometimes hypnotic; it is easy to get into a trance while dancing.

Bulgarika is a folk ensemble that played last month in Amherst, Massachusetts, and I was at their dance party in early September. Right now they are on tour in the United States.If you do a Google search on them, you can find a performance somewhere near you.

Nikolai Kolev and his wife Donka, originally from Bulgaria, now reside in New York City, and a number of years ago played in the Kabile Bulgarian Band.

The Bulgarika ensemble on tour this year consists of four musicians:  Nikolai Kolev, gadulka, Donka Koleva, vocals, Vasil Bebelekov, gaida and Dragni Dragnev, who plays several instruments: gaida, keyboard, kaval and tupan.  He just doesn't play them all at the same time :)


Although it was very hot and humid, and the hall had no air conditioning (for cooling we had the windows wide open and fans running at full blast) everyone had a great time dancing and sweating to Bulgarian folk tunes. I felt bad for the musicians who wore long pants and long sleeve embroidered shirts because performing in the heat is hard work. They absolutely love what they do, and played for us (with a short break) for about three hours.

Here is a sample from that evening that I captured in video: the dance is a slow pravo.



This was another dance event with Bulgarika which took place recently in Pennsylvania.  The music is a medley of songs from the Rhodope region of southern Bulgaria; the dance is Pravo Rhodopsko Horo.



And finally, an older video of Bulgarika from 2011 with Ivan Milev on accordion, and Donka Koleva's daughter Maria (vocals). It took place at an outdoor festival in Indiana. The dances are Pravo Trakiisko Horo, Devetorka, and Trite Puti.  

 It also happened to be Donka Koleva's birthday.



If you enjoyed this you may also like:

An Unforgettable Evening With Kabile at Mt. Holyoke College

A Multi-Ethnic Weekend and Some Bulgarian "Free Software"

Dancing Across Bulgaria: The Pravo and Regional Folk Dance Styles

Don't forget to visit my other blog Light and Shadow.  The post this month is "Some Thoughts on the Autumn Equinox."

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