Choirs in Bulgaria are an important and interesting phenomenon in Bulgarian musical culture.
On the development of choral and children’s choral performance art – by author Venetsia Karamanova
“Choir art in Bulgaria has been popular since ancient times. It originates from the tradition of collective performance of folk songs and chants included in pagan rituals. It was mostly unanimous, with both women and men participating. When folk songs were performed, the priority was on the women’s side, and in the worship – on the men’s side.
After the formation of the Bulgarian state in 681 and the adoption of the Eastern Orthodox religion in 865. by Byzantium, favorable conditions were created for the development of the art of music and especially of the choral art. Thanks to the original song folklore, Bulgarian cult music has preserved its Slavic song appearance. Of exceptional historical importance for the national cultural development is the one established in 683. Slavic writing by the two notable Bulgarians – Cyril and Methodius. Church books and chants have been translated into understandable Bulgarian
A number of historical documents testify to the existence of original medieval music. Its most characteristic form is the so-called “BULGARIAN SONG” or “Bulgarian voice” – a relatively complete cycle of church chants. The most prominent representative of this period is John Kukuzel (13th century).
Bulgaria was enslaved in 1396. and 5 centuries is not an independent state. The Bulgarian spirit is preserved thanks to folk creativity, which finds expression in schools and community centers (an original form of cultural and educational center)
Yanko Mustakov is considered to be the founder of choral performance art, who in 1868 created the first secular polyphonic choir. After the Liberation (1878), choral singing emerged as the performance form that most fully met the spiritual needs of the people. It is worldly in character. The first composers: Panayot Pipkov, Georgi Atanasov, Dobri Hristov and others. they work in the genre of “choir music”. What distinguishes the Bulgarian choral art from the choral art of other countries is that it is entirely developed on a national basis. The folk song becomes the basis of creative pursuits. Singing societies were created, which in 1926 unite in the “Union of Choirs” (1935 – “Bulgarian Singing Union, and now – “Bulgarian Choral Union”)
The development of children’s choral performance art follows the spirit of the times. The school is the main environment where children are educated through singing. There is no school without a choir! “Reviews of choral self-activity” are organized. Of great importance for establishing high criteria is the one created in 1951. choir-conductor class at the State Academy of Music by the composer Georgi Dimitrov.
In 1946 the first children’s choir that brought world fame to children’s choral performance art – BODRA SMYANA – was created. Its founder and conductor is Boncho Bochev. Numerous tours and prestigious world awards are only an expression of the admiration and recognition of specialists and the public. The composition gathers over 350 talented children – mostly girls. Now the choir is led by Alexander Kochkov. Under his leadership, “Bodra Smyana” participates in performances of the Sofia Opera, performs concerts with the Sofia Philharmonic and the BNR Symphony Orchestra, participates in festivals and reviews in Bulgaria and Europe.”