Three Bulgarians and two Americans call themselves Nomads. Their common passion - folk music - gathers them. Coming from the negative connotation of the term "nomads", they recreate the image of traveling musicians far from home in contemporary form and "transmit" the music of the Balkans to the United States in order to sound the rhythm of Bulgarian music there. How they meet and what inspires them, we will find out from the conversation with Alexandra Georgieva - one of the main figures in the group.
Tell us more about forming the group. How did you find each other?
We met Nikolai Georgiev (gadulka) back in 2011, when my husband Apostle was in the US on a brigade, and the rest of the band, Eric Ray (accordion) and Natalie Novitsky (vocal), we met in 2015 we came to live here. Over time, we have had small participations together, most notably at the gatherings of the Bulgarian community here, as well as at the big annual Martenitsa Concert, organized by lovers of Bulgarian folklore in the Twin Cities - Minneapolis - St. Paul. It was a real pleasure to work with Nicky, Eric and Natalie. It pleased us that we found people to make Bulgarian music with, even so far from Bulgaria. This is how the idea of forming our own group was born and over time, the Nomadi project came to light.
Did you expect such interest in Bulgarian music, in this culturally remote country?
In truth, we expected to have an interest! The first is that there is a Bulgarian community here, which, although not as large as those in other American cities (Chicago, Washington, etc.), is very cohesive and affectionate for everything Bulgarian. At the same time, there is a community of Americans who, at some stage in their lives, have become acquainted with Balkan folklore and have made studying it a hobby and some a profession!
The mystery of Bulgarian voices and other ensembles made Bulgarian folk music popular around the world. You come as a natural extension. Where do you think lies the magic of Bulgarian folklore that makes thousands of people in the world admire it?
Bulgarian folklore is immense! It is truly magical and charming to such an extent that many foreigners take it for granted! Its harmony, different and numerous rhythms make it attractive to people all over the world and somehow make them rediscover their own spirituality in it!
Nikolay Georgiev / gadulka; Alexandra Georgieva / vocals, gadulka; Toli Georgiev / clarinet, bagpipe; Natalie Novitsky / vocals; Eric Ray / accordion
"The Spanish language is love, the English freedom, and my Bulgarian root and beginning" - interview with the poetess Alexandra Evtimova
Alexandra Evtimova is a poet, writer, philologist and translator, but above all she is a sunny, positive, gentle and captivating person. She was born in 1995 in the beautiful Bulgarian town of Byala Slatina. She graduated in English philology with a second foreign language, Spanish in ...
Bulgaria has a rich folklore diversity. Do you have an affinity for the sound and music of a certain place - Rhodope, Macedonian, Shop music?
We have not focused on a specific folklore area. Maybe because we ourselves come from different areas in Bulgaria - I am from Vidin, Apostol from Samokov, and Nikolai is from Silistra. Our goal as a group is to gather the Bulgarians here, to give them an occasion for celebration and to satisfy, even for a while, their need for closeness to the Motherland. There are Bulgarians here, coming from different parts of Bulgaria and that is why we try to perform music from all folklore areas - everyone to discover themselves and to remember those fond memories that connect them with their homeland!
Does the creative element find the performance of popular folk songs popular for most Bulgarians?
It is very important for us as musicians not only to perform songs popular with the general public, but also to invest something of ourselves in everything we do. I think that for every artist, one of the main goals is to express oneself - one's spirituality and identity. That is why when we choose the music to do we are very careful. We try to keep the interest of the audience on the one hand, but also stay true to ourselves and to what we want to do, the way we want to sound as a group.
Which instruments are part of the group?
Our group is made up of: gadulka (Nikolay Georgiev and Alexandra Georgieva); accordion (Eric Ray); piano, clarinet and bagpipe (Apostle Georgiev); tupan (Nikolay Georgiev).
Globalization has more or less put peoples under a common denominator, threatening their cultural identity. However, we do see one going back to roots, traditions and folklore. What do you think this is?
It is this globalization that is the reason why we go back to our folklore and roots! In today's modern and high-tech times, it is really important to stay true to our traditions in order to preserve ourselves as a people and to carry over in time everything we have built for centuries! In the years we grew up and studied folklore, it was difficult to find music, especially if you were away from the music schools in Bulgaria (Kotel, Shiroka Luka, Pleven, Plovdiv). Now, with the technologies we have at our disposal, it's much easier to do that! Everything is accessible and at your fingertips for anyone who wants to touch it!
What is Bulgarian folklore about an American? How is it accepted by the US audience?
For Americans, our folklore is something different, even exotic. It is something that not everyone can perceive because it is very specific - it does not look like any other music known here. Therefore, it requires a slightly different sense of music and deeper thought and reflection in order for a person to be captivated by it. The public accepts it well - with respect and interest, it is open to listen and understand more about it and about us, the Bulgarians, as a people.
Tell us more about the Martenitsa Festival, in which you participate…
Martenitsa is an annual concert organized in the beginning of March by Americans who are fond of Bulgarian folklore. The cast includes: Mila Women's Choir - performing choirs by major Bulgarian composers; the band "Orchestra without a Name" (named after the Bulgarian film of the same name); the Thracian group and we the Nomadi group. It is interesting to know that the only Bulgarians participating in this great concert are the three of us - the Apostle, Nicholas and I. All other participants are Americans who have studied and performed our folklore for years. Every year more and more people come to this concert. Wonderful to see how two different cultures do not collide, but merge - our Bulgarian and the American here.
What is "your" Bulgaria?
Our Bulgaria is everywhere! Our Bulgaria has it in the love we talk about Her when they ask us! It's in the music we make! In our children we speak Bulgarian! In our Sunday Bulgarian school, in the corner with Bulgarian paintings and souvenirs in our home! The traditional Christmas Eve sofa and every Bulgarian holiday! In the Bulgarian flag, prominently displayed at home, even in the Bulgarian television we watch in the evening! Bulgaria is in our hearts wherever we go! Bulgaria is us!
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