Bulgaria in London: The London Bulgarian Choir

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If you’re not familiar with Bulgarian music and art, now’s the time to experience it. The London Festival of Bulgarian Culture is in full swing, with events ranging from sell-out concerts in the Queen Elizabeth Hall to art exhibitions at the Bulgarian Embassy.

On Friday, the London Bulgarian Choir add their voices to the festival with a concert at St John’s, Smith Square. I found out more for our World in London series.

Only about a third of the choir’s 40 singers are Bulgarian by birth. The rest – Londoners from the UK, Germany, Greece, Poland, France, Japan and India – have absorbed Bulgaria’s distinctive vocal style and asymmetric rhythms from their leader and musical director, Dessislava Stefanova.

“Over the last decade, we’ve sung all over the UK, toured Bulgaria twice, won BBC Radio 3’s Open Choir of the Year, done the BBC Electric Proms with Doves and riotous festivals with British Sea Power, performed in galleries and nightclubs and memorably on a barge travelling up the Thames. It’s been quite a ride,” says Stefanova.

“On Friday, we’re singing in the beautiful acoustics of St John’s, Smith Square for the first time. The concert not only allows us to celebrate our 10th birthday in style, but is also the premiere of new songs by the acclaimed Bulgarian composer Kiril Todorov.

“Kiril’s music is a vital and favourite part of our repertoire; his work is by turns tender, gripping and charming, traditional yet modern, unmistakable yet enormously varied.

“Thanks to the BBC Performing Arts Fund, we were able to commission six new pieces from Kiril, and have enjoyed working with him in the UK, and on tour in Bulgaria this August. We’re looking forward to a wonderful, celebratory evening of musical treats.”

London Bulgarian Choir, St John’s, Smith Square, 12 November 2010. Concert starts 7.30pm, doors from 7pm. Tickets £15/£10 from www.sjss.org.uk or on the door. Find out more at www.londonbulgarianchoir.co.uk. Do you have more Bulgarian London tips? Let us know in the comments below…


  1. Tony from Luxembourg says:

    I saw these guys in concert earlier this year in Bulgaria. They were fantastic – you don’t just listen to their songs – you absorb them through every pore and feel them with all the senses. Hard to explain until you hear it, but imagine a sonic head massage! Well recommended…