Tag Archives: Bulgaria

Artist Profiles: Perunika Trio

Perunika Trio, Eugenia Georgieva, Magdalena Stoyanova and Antonia Keteneva – Photo by S. Varsano

Eugenia Georgieva, Victoria Mancheva and Victoria Evstatieva met through the London Bulgaria Choir and decided to form their own trio under the name Perunika Trio. All vocalists are of Macedonian descent, are highly educated and spent their early years in the Bulgarian cities of Sofia, Plovdiv and Veliko Turnova. They are now based in London. The Perunika Trio formed in October 2005.

Developing their debut CD, Introducing Perunika Trio, turned out to be a profoundly personal experience of self discoveryfor these young women as they grew up absorbing both contemporary pop and their age-old musical tradition.

Eugenia Georgieva is the only one amongst them who is classically trained (she even fronted a rock band at one stage) but all have spent time in various choirs. Working on the songs for the album made them aware how deeply rooted the tradition of Bulgarian vocal harmonies is within them.

Bulgarian folk music reflects centuries of political oppression. Bulgarians were for example forbidden by the Ottomans to wear clothes of color other than black, grey and brown and musical instruments were limited. So the human voice became the main outlet for creativity both as folk music and to glorify God in Orthodox churches. Song and the human voice became the instrument.

Introducing Perunika Trio is a journey through Southern Bulgaria, with laments from Strandja, melancholic chants from Rhodope, Thracian love songs ,asymmetric Pirin diaphony and the clashing sounds and ‘hiccupping’ from Shopsko.

The lineup in 2017 included Eugenia Georgieva, Magdalena Stoyanova and Antonia Keteneva.


Introducing Perunika Trio (INTRO109CD, 2008)
A Bright Star Has Risen (Arc Music EUCD 2409, 2012)


Artist Profiles: Yuri Yunakov

Yuri Yunakov

Saxophonist Yuri Yunakov was born in Haskovo, southeastern Bulgaria, of Turkish Romani (Gypsy) ancestry and currently lives in the New York City area. He comes from a long line of musicians in his extended family, including his father and grandfather and his uncles and brother. Yuri’s career began with the band Mladost and he later started a 10-year collaboration with Ivo Papazov and Trakija.

Yuri is Bulgaria’s most famous saxophonist. Together with the Trakija orchestra Yunakov played at hundreds of weddings in his native Bulgaria, and toured extensively in Europe and North America.

In 1989 he was featured on NBC TV with saxophonist David Sanborn. Yuri appears on the recording “Gypsy Fire”, a CD of Turkish music on Traditional Crossroads.

In 1994, Yunakov moved to the United States. He is the director of the Yuri Yunakov Ensemble, and is in great demand among the Bulgarian, Macedonian, Albanian, Turkish, Armenian and Romani communities in the New York City area.

In 2011, Yunakov received a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship.


New Colors in Bulgarian Wedding Music (Traditional Crossroads, 1997)
Balada (Traditional Crossroads, 1999)
Roma Variations (Traditional Crossroads, 2001)
Together Again (Traditional Crossroads, 2003)


Artist Profiles: Bisserov Sisters

Bisserov Sisters

The Bisserov Sisters, Lyubimka, Neda, Mitra, performed in public for the first time in 1978 when they became winners in the 11th World Youth festival, held in Cuba.

Gifted with fine voices and musical memory, the three sisters adopted a lot of songs from their mother and grandmother, as well as from the folk dances, wedding parties, spring fairs, holidays such as St. Lazar’s, Easter, St. George’s as well as working songs from harvest time, hoeing, etc.

The repertoire of the Bisserov Sisters includes traditional folk music from Bulgaria’s Pirin region, bordering Macedonia and Greece.. The regional sounds combine primitive diaphony, the rich and versatile metrorhythm, in an expressive performing style.


* Pirin Traditional songs (Balkanton BHA 10 334, 1979)
* Bisserov Sisters (Balkanton BKMC 7300, 1981)
* Folk Songs From Pirin (Balkanton BHA 11 383, 1984)
* Bisserov Sisters & Trakiiska troika (Balkanton BHA 11 862, 1986)
* Old traditional songs (1988)
* Music from Pirin Mountains (PAN Records PAN 133 CD, 1990)
* Folk Chorus From Bulgaria, Pirin Region (Amenity Sounds ARCD-01, 1991)
* The Hits of the Bisserov Sisters – Music from Pirin Region, Shopsko & Trakia (1991)
* Bulgarian Polyphony III – Bisserov Sisters and Nadka Karajova (JVC Japan VIC G-5223, 1992)
* The Bisserov Sisters (Balkanton BTTnC 3046, 1993)
* Sestri Bisserovi – Pirin wedding and ritual songs (PAN Records PAN 7005CD, 1994)
* Slaveite ot Pirin I (Balkanton BNMC 7704, 1995)
* Slaveite ot Pirin II (Balkanton BNMC 7705, 1995)
* Diloto (Balkanton BNMC 7782, 1996)
* Bisserov Sisters – Three Generations (PAN Records PAN 2080, 1998)
* From the Roots to the Top (10061955 LNM, 1998)
* The Favourite Macedonian Songs (04031953 LNM, 2002)
* The Bisserov Sisters – A Jubilee Collection (2003)
* Macedonian Music for Dances and Celebrations (2013)
* Songs about Pirin girls (2015)


Artist Profiles: Rumen Sali Shopov

Rumen Sali Shopov

Percussionist Rumen Sali Shopov is a Roma (Gypsy) artist from Gotse Delchev, a crossroads town in Southwest Bulgaria near the borders with Greece and Macedonia, whose musical traditions he has mastered along with those of the local Bulgarians, Roma, and Turks.

An astonishing musician on tambura (long-necked luten) and bouzouki, as well as an accomplished vocalist, drummer, and dumbek player, Rumen is also one of the greatest living exponents of the southern Bulgarian/northern Greek style of ceremonial and celebratory tapan.

He was the concertmaster of the Nevrokopski Folk Ensemble, Bulgaria’s first national folk ensemble, for more than 20 years, and led two of Southwest Bulgaria’s most important bands, Shturo Make and Orkestar Orbita, performing throughout the Balkans, Europe and Canada.

He has played at five Herdeljezi Festivals with many bands, including with Yuri Yunakov, and at countless other events.

He has toured the United States of America; teaches at music and dance camps around California, all across America, and in Canada; and participates in many folk arts events throughout California, notably as tapan player at the annual Turkish Festival in Monterey and at Greek and Kurdish weddings.


Soul of the Mahala (2006)


Shamanic Electronica from Bulgaria

Vataff Project – Solьmen (Fusion Embassy, 2017)

Vataff Project is a Bulgarian act that brilliantly mixes trance and ambient electronics with traditional musical instruments. Electronic music artist Victor Marinov is behind the project. He provides the electronic atmospheres, beats, samples and effects. He’s joined by three additional musicians who add a tasty world music vibe to the recording.

One of the guests is Veselin Mitev on duduk. The duduk by itself always sounds exotic and mesmeric. Here, the duduk is processed to sound even more mysterious and fascinating.

The other two guests are Anton Karadimchev on vocals and guitar; and Rossen Zahariev on flugelhorn.

Vataff has several meanings. One of them is leader or guide. In Bulgarian folk tradition the leader of the kalushar dancers is also called vataff. The vataff are considered the successors of an ancient privileged society of warriors, whose frontrunners most likely were initiated in a religious cult and had the capacity to heal through particular music as part of certain rituals.

Solьmen is a finely-crafted album that brings together cutting edge electronica, Bulgarian folklore and shamanic world music influences.

Buy the digital edition of Solьmen.


Artist Profiles: Bulgarika


Traditional Bulgarian music ensemble Bulgarika is led by gadulka (traditional Bulgarian bowed string instrument) master Nikolay Kolev; internationally prominent singer Donka Koleva; kaval (end-blown flute) maestro Temelko Ivanov; and tambura (long-necked, two-course fretted lute) player Nikolay Kodzhabashev.

Nikolay Kolev and his wife Donka Koleva are currently based in New York. The rest of the ensemble is based in Bulgaria.


Bulgarian Clarinet Legend

Georgi Koev - Georgi Koev (1910-1983) Legend of the Bulgarian Clarinet
Georgi Koev – Georgi Koev (1910-1983) Legend of the Bulgarian Clarinet

Georgi Koev – Georgi Koev (1910-1983) Legend of the Bulgarian Clarinet (BMA Productions BMA-1009 – Bulgarian Folk Archives collection, 2015)

As the title indicates, Bulgarian clarinetist Georgi Koev was a well-respected performer. His musical style combined folk music traditions with thrilling improvisations.

This compilation includes 25 musical pieces compiled by Yves Moreau from the archives of Bulgarian National Radio and the former state-owned Balkanton record label.

Georgi Koev specialized in traditional dances and slow tempo melodies from his native Malo Konare and other villages in the Pazardzhik region in western Thrace.

The CD includes a 24-page booklet with photos and liner notes in Bulgarian, English and French with translations by Nikolay Chapanski (Radio Plovdiv), Yves Moreau and Martha Forsyth.

Georgi Koev (1910-1983) Legend of the Bulgarian Clarinet is a highly expressive set of traditional Bulgarian musical pieces performed by one of the finest Bulgarian clarinet players in the 20th century.

Buy Georgi Koev (1910-1983) Legend of the Bulgarian Clarinet