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The traditional music of Bulgaria has always been of particular interest to me since first hearing it on old Planxty and Andy Irvine recordings. From this I could see the similarities with Irish music instantly and was excited by the fast paced, dynamic melodies and odd meters. I have played and recorded versions of Bulgarian folk tunes in various ensembles as well as composed modern works that have been heavily influenced by Bulgarian folk music and meter. I regularly collaborate with Varna based master Gaida and Kaval player Dragni Dragnev with whom I have showcased internationally and completed recorded works within the BASORK Ensemble. Below are some pictures of my mentorship with tambura maestro Georgi Manovski during my residency in Varna.

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Sleeve Notes

We've always had a good relationship with Echo Echo and have enjoyed many performances at their esteemed festival over the years. After our last showcase there in 2018 the energy from the impromptu dance performances triggered inspiration to compose some music exclusively for Echo Echo.  We were just about to embark on a trip to Bulgaria and the seed was planted to eventually write some new music for contemporary dance which evidently involved collaboration from Bulgarian piper Dragni Dragnev. The piece itself is a nod to the Paidushko Dance (which dancer Zoe Ramsey quotes in her own new contemporary choreographed dance). 


In Bulgaria the Paidushko is part of the "Northern folklore region" danced in 5/8. Like many other Balkan folk dances, each region or village has its own version of the dance. It is traditionally a men's dance, but in modern times it is often performed in lines of both men and women.




Sleeve Notes

...When Andy Irvine set out on his ‘EastWind’ journey to Bulgaria in the late 1960s, it is unlikely that he thought this experience would help transform Irish music into a global phenomenon. From his work with Planxty, then Paul Brady (and continuing with Mozaik), he introduced Balkan music and its rhythms to Irish music. In 1991, he co-produced ‘EastWind’ with Bill Whelan, who subsequently wrote the music for a seven-minute interval-filler at the 1994 Eurovision. Everyone who saw that first Riverdance routine, drenched in Balkan beats, knew that it was one of those ‘Now and in time to be, Wherever green is worn’ moments. Derry’s Balkan juggernaut Basork have been continuing on Irvine’s journey, exploring the rhythms and textures of Balkan music for over a decade. This epic composition marks the beginning of a deeper collaborative process between these Irish musicians and their Bulgarian friends, the formidable Trio Etno, from Varna on the Black Sea. Tours of Derry-Londonderry and Varna (thanks to Arts Council NI and Irish Embassy, Sofia) have strengthened these ties and led to new compositions and collaboration. You can expect to hear more Balkan/Irish fusion in 2020...(Modal Citizen 2019)


Dragni Dragnev (Kaval) and Georgi Manovski (Tambura) provide post meal entertainment live at the dinner table after our showcase concert in Varna.


Full ensemble showcase at City of Derry Jazz Festival featuring Dragni Dragnev (Gaida, Kaval), Petya Dragneva (Vocal), Kristian Nedelchev (Gadulka), Rioghnach Connolly (Vocal, Flute) and BASORK. 


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