If the Bulgarian voices are the vehicle of a culture and all that is intrinsic to it, if this sine qua non is the secret of the reach and the power of their voices, the Bulgarian choir’s interpretation does not stop to renew itself.
As if the millennial voice needed to tune over the centuries. Political context first, dazzling success, fortunate encounters, so many readjustments which creates an astonishing singularity and a character as eclectic as the New Bulgarian Voices.
Initially called The Mysteries of Bulgarian Voices by the man who discovered them, the ethnomusicologist Marcel Cellier, or even The Bulgarian State Television Female Choir during the Cold War, these pevitza or soloists originally selected in their villages for their extraordinary talent, have been trained to the strictest standards since the 1950s.
But for the young choir of the New Bulgarian Voices, there is no longer a contradiction between the reappropriation of popular songs and their deterritorialization …This will not sound strange to the ears of the young Cuban pianist who from an early age, on the other side of the Atlantic, hammers the piano with his little fingers all day long, follows a training as rigorous as the one of the prestigious Instituto Superior del Arte in Havana, and became the instigator of the opening of Cuban music.
The new choir offers us new ways of understanding with the GRAMMY® awarded album “Al Este del cante” recorded with flamenco singer Arcángel. Their conductor Georgi Petkov is the one who believed in the fusion of Bulgarian folklore with other traditions: after the Spanish experience alongside Enrique Morente, he explored Italy with Adriano Celentano, Portugal with Antonio Zambujo, or the tradition of Tuva with The Tuva Voices, to name but a few.
For the time being, it is enough to listen to these ancestral Bulgarian voices being cheerfully jostled by a Roberto Fonseca, who sometimes plays the piano percussively, sometimes captivates us by the delicacy of his fingering, to know what it is all about. The challenge will not be to understand, but to live it. Then the goal will be reached; a culture that persists, voices that are constantly regenerating, an experience each time closer to the universal.
The polyphonic voices singers will show up on stage supported by their voices alone. They sing a capella, the music is not at their service, but they are, as always. There is no better choice than Roberto Fonseca to sublimate the ingenious dichotomy of belcanto and the microtonal dissonances of Bulgarian voices, to accompany this choir with overtone canon. This choir whose various feats never fail in the mystique of women’s singing. This is undoubtedly the beautiful synchronicity that brings together on the Marciac stage these two references of World Music on the one hand (a category which was partly invented for them as we know too little) and Cuban Jazz of which Roberto is the effigy. The latter had already made Fatoumata Diawara’s voice vibrate in Marciac, and through her, the echoes of Africa in all its musical and spiritual richness. Evidenced by the live album “At Home”, released in 2015 and produced on site. Likewise, six years earlier, he recorded the album “Akokan” with the voice of the sublime cape verdean Mayra Andrade. And in 2019, the rising Cuban rap star Danay Suárez participated in his latest album “Yesun”. In addition to these divas, other prestigious guests collaborated on the jazz scene alongside Roberto, such as GRAMMY® Award-winning saxophonist Joe Lovano and French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf.
This year, Cuban pianist will turn to the Orient and will continue to play a repertoire that transcends time and is passed down from generation to generation. It was time for those who share the same destiny to meet on stage. The history of the Bulgarian Voices and Roberto’s are certainly linked in the renewing of a popular repertoire, in a political context protected from external cultural influences, but above all, in the music’s majestic opening up. If Roberto embodies Cuba’s audacity by, for example, including the swing of the Sixties between the percussions of the Cuban “descarga”, the Bulgarian Voices on the other hand, inspired to promote the tradition, invented a extremely modern and sophisticated genre.
They will later be a real ray of sunshine in England when the obscure atmosphere with melancholic tendencies “post-punk” was in fashion. With music that targets the stomach, Bulgarian voices bring joy and seduce the biggest stars: from David Byrne to Gorillaz via ex-Beatle George Harrison, Bowie, U2, Kate Bush, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Drake or recently Ibeyi… The Bulgarian choir creations, revised and renewed, as well as those from Roberto Fonseca and his band will be led for now by the conductor Georgi Petkov.
Away from recordings and songs, incomparable will be their live performance!