Hristina Anastasova: I am a happy woman, because I work what I love

Photo: private archive
Hristina Anastasova is one of the folk singers promoting Strandja Mountain folk songs. She was born in 1969 in the village of Dolno Ezerovo founded by Bulgarian refugees from Aegean Thrace, since 1991 a suburb of the Black Sea city of Burgas. Hristina’s songs collected and recorded by elderly people in the village of Zidarovo are part of her first album The Songs of Strandja.

Hristina fell in love with singing once she joined the local school choir. Jointly with her mom, a folk singer herself, she appeared at concerts organized by the community center of Dolno Ezerovo. “In 1981 I won my first prize, a gold medal from the Fourth National Festival in Koprivshtitsa”, the singer recalls. “I later graduated from the High School of Music in the town of Kotel and joined the Filip Koutev Folk Song and Dance Ensemble in Sofia. I stayed there a while and then moved to the Trakiya Ensemble in Plovdiv. I appeared at an admission contest and was selected to join the group where I also met my husband, a bagpipe player. Later I finished my studies at the Plovdiv Music Academy.”

Taking up an idea of musicologist Rumyana Tsintsarska, Hristina and some of her colleagues from Trakiya Ensemble started the Bulgarka Junior Quartet. The successful quartet has appeared at prestigious festivals and has been on tour in Germany, UK, Morocco, Israel etc. Everywhere audiences have been amazed by the wide-ranging repertoire of the Bulgarian group – from authentic folklore to sophisticated compositions based on folklore; from Orthodox chants to Catholic music and present-day world music.

© Photo: private archive

“The first appearance of Bulgarka Junior Quartet was back in 1991, at the Midem Festival in Cannes, France, the world's largest music industry gathering. There we presented successfully our first album, The Legend of the Bulgarian Voices. We have teamed up with other groups for seven other CDs. We have recorded flamenco music in Spain with the wonderful El Lebrijano. We have performed Prima Toni de Palestrina arranged especially for us by French composer Ivan Lantos. We have got four joint albums with Basque musician Kepa Junkera, and one of them, K produced in 2004 was given a Grammy Award. It was another challenge for us - Basque music and Bulgarian folklore in one. With the trio of Sabin Todorov, a Bulgarian pianist who lives and works in Belgium, we joined an international music festival in Tampere, Finland. Going back in time, I should not miss the involvement of Bulgarka Junior Quartet in the documentary Winged Migration with music by French composer Bruno Coulais. We made the recordings at the Bulgarian National Radio.”

© Photo: archive

Upon graduation from the Music Academy, Hristina Anastasova moved to the southern Bulgarian town of Asenovgrad. In 1996 she took a job as folk singing pedagogue at the United Children’s Complex. There she has been working with talented children and has helped some of them choose music as their career. For a fourth year now, Hristina Anastasova has been leading the amateur ensemble Kapitan Petko Voivoda at the Thracian Society in Asenovgrad. “I am a happy woman, because I work what I love and what I can do really well,” concludes the singer.

English version Daniela Konstantinova
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