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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

History in tune

The best songs never die,they become sweeter over the centuries,points out Boike Prissadova as her group,Cosmic Voices of Bulgaria,bursts into a 10th century track.

Written by Dipanita Nath |
February 25, 2009 11:01:08 pm

This Bulgarian group draws its repertoire from songs of the past

The best songs never die,they become sweeter over the centuries,points out Boike Prissadova as her group,Cosmic Voices of Bulgaria,bursts into a 10th century track. The acapella group is visiting Delhi for the International Festival of the Sacred Arts,and brings a repertoire drawn from the country’s chequered history — especially the 500 years under the Ottoman Turks which inspired many tales of love and heroism.

As group manager Kiril Zdravkov adds,“There’s nothing modern. Our youngest songs are from the 18th century.” The Cosmic Voices specializes in choral and folklore styles and “the fact that it is an all-woman group follows from the Bulgarian tradition that men generally don’t sing folklore.” Set up by Emil Minev around 15 years ago,the group has shot to fame in Europe and abroad with their typical Balkan sounds— their last tour was to China three months ago and their past concert trips range from the NATO bases in Sarajevo,Bosnia and Herzegovina to the UN mission in Vienna.

“Almost all the 18 singers are winners of the Bulgarian National Folklore Festival,” says Zdravkov before pointing out the prima donnas of Bulgarian radio and television— the soprano Prissadova,who specializes in the melodramatic and sorrowful sounds of the mountains,and Pavena Gordieva who sings the jovial tracks from west Bulgaria. Among them,only Prissadova has visited India before. “I was part of the National Musical Ensemble of Bulgaria that toured the country in 1982,” she says.

Though the group aims to make the listener reach a transcendental state with their prayer songs—as they did with haunting melodies at the Cathedral Church of Redemption last week — it is their folklore that can evoke deep emotions. Among the songs selected for the Delhi trip is a 300-year- old one about young Ottoman rebels who try to woo a girl,another song is a mother’s voice asking a girl to never marry a rebel because she would then have to dress in the black garb of a widow forever. Even in Bulgaria,the language could pose a problem but doesn’t. “These songs are in orthodox Slovanic language,a mix of Bulgarian and Russian,that is not spoken any more but nobody fails to grasp the emotions expressed,” he says.

The Cosmic Voices of Bulgaria will perform today at Siri Fort
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