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Bulgaria's Voice

Sunday 25 December 2005 21:30-22:15 (Radio 3)

Singer Dessislava Stefanova travels back to her native country in search of the roots of women's choral singing in Bulgaria. She explores the development of the tradition during the Soviet era, and how by the 1980s it had become one of world music's most captivating and successful genres.

Duration:

45 minutes

Bulgaria's Voice

Dessislava Stefanova

Dessislava Stefanova

Playlist

In Bulgaria, women's choral singing played a huge part in the growth of interest in world music in the 1980s and 1990s. With beautiful, mournful vocal lines, exotic harmonies and distinctive vocal timbres, Bulgarian ensembles and choirs won wild acclaim throughout the US and Europe. Their recordings were packaged as 'Le Mystere des voix Bulgares', and they seemed to connect with a thousand year old folk history. But the choral tradition was actually born much more recently - in the early days of the Soviet era.

In 'Bulgaria's Voice', Dessi goes back to Bulgaria in search of the history of the songs she sings, which have their roots in a rural society unchanged for centuries before World War Two. She begins her journey at the cave in the Rhodopi mountains in the South West of Bulgaria where the original Bulgarian poet and musician - Orpheus - is said to have descended to the underworld. Meeting professional musicians and remote village groups on the way to a homecoming concert in the city of her birth, Dessi explores the country's relationship with its best known musical product.




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