News Column

The beauty of Bulgaria

October 24, 2013

YellowBrix

Oct. 24--Director Boyko Antonov developed the culture-rich program starring the Bosilek Bulgarian Folk Dance Ensemble of New York and the musicians Duo Kuchevi, of NY, the Kolorit Orchestra of Chicago and Piletto of Pittsburgh.

The 2 p.m. show in the Library of Congress venue on Mount Pony is intended to highlight the beauty and diverse traditions, clothing and music of the ancient country in southeastern Europe influenced by Slavic and Bulgar heritage along with Greek, Roman and Celtic influences, among others.

Bulgaria, with a capital city of Sofia, is geographically known for its mountain ranges, fast flowing rivers and fertile plains separating it into five main ethnographic regions, according to the program by Antonov, an information technology contractor for the Packard Campus and managing director of GrIT Consulting, a disabled veteran-owned business in Bowie, Md.

He grew up in the Trace Valley area of Bulgaria, and wants to share his layered heritage with this country.

"I am an American from Bulgarian descent who loves Bulgarian folk music and dance," said Antonov, asked why he wanted to develop this weekend's program. "I do it to allow more Americans to enjoy the beauty of the Bulgarian culture."

Saturday's performance in Culpeper combines the colorful instruments, clothes, voices and dance of the country for a presentation that promises to be a unique experience.

Members of the Bosilek dance ensemble, opening the show, hail from Pirin in the southwest, Thrace in the southeast and near the Danube in the northwest. Changing into various authentic costumes from the different regions, some nearly a century-old, the dancers will perform lively folk dances illustrating the fire and magic of Bulgarian traditions as well as a "dance of the bees."

A special set, "A dance is winding," features a lovesick verse, "Marry me off, mother, while I'm still a young bachelor, while the girls still want me."

Cathie Springer, artistic director of Bosilek, said Bulgarian folk dances generally do not "tell stories."

"They are simply a way for people to have fun dancing together," she said.

There are two basic forms of traditional Bulgarian dance -- the horo, a circle or line of people holding hands, belts or shoulders and the ruchenitsa in which pairs face each other and dance freestyle, according to Springer. She said the choreography of Bosilek is closely based on the earliest dances and only lightly "arranged" for the stage.

"Each of the dance suites that you will see is from a different part of Bulgaria so the costumes, the music, the dance steps and figures as well as the character and mood of the dances is quite diverse," Springer said.

Orchestra performers Petur Aleksiev on gaida (bagpipe), Angel Dobrev on gudulka (pear-shaped bowed instrument with resonating understrings) and Konstantin Marinov on tupan (double-headed drum) will present songs from the mountains where Orpheus, the Greek god of music, was born, as well as other mountain region selections.

Vocalist Petrana Ivanova Kucheva and musician Ivaylo Kuchev, a couple for more than 30 years, will perform as a duo at Saturday's show also featuring Stoyan Kostov, aka Pileto, on Bulgarian tambura.

For the finale, everyone is invited to join in dancing a Bulgarian horo in the theater and lobby.

In commenting on the global, even inter-galactic significance of Bulgarian music, program director Antonov mentioned that a voice from the country was included on the gold-plated phonograph record attached to Voyager launched 1977 as a means of introducing Earth to any alien the spacecraft might pass. The late great astrophysicist Carl Sagan led the committee that selected the contents of the record for NASA including spoken greetings from Earth people in 55 languages.

Musical selections on the record vary widely to include a song by Bulgarian folk singer Valya Balkanska to Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Good" as well as Bach, Mozart and Louie Armstrong's "Melancholy Blues."

Last month, Voyager, and its imbedded music, left the solar system and headed into interstellar space.

The featured music Saturday in the Packard Campus Theater will provide an exciting and intriguing afternoon delightful for all ages, said Springer, artistic director for the Bulgarian folk dance group.

The venue at the Packard Campus Theater is located inside the LOC National Audio Visual Conservation Center, the world's largest repository of moving images and sound recordings.

Want to go?

No reservations are required for Saturday's free live performance at 2 p.m. of "The Beauty of Bulgarian Folk Music and Dance" in the Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater on Mount Pony in Culpeper. Seating is first-come, first-served.

The beauty of Bulgarian song and dance comes to the Packard Campus Theater Saturday afternoon at a free gala performance featuring noted native artists.

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(c)2013 the Culpeper Star-Exponent (Culpeper, Va.)

Visit the Culpeper Star-Exponent (Culpeper, Va.) at www2.starexponent.com

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