The Representative Ensemble of the Armed Forces celebrates 70th anniversary

Photo: the archive of the ensemble

In the years of World War 2 musician Dragan Prokopiev took up the ambitious task to create a Bulgarian Army Choir. The choir that he started is the predecessor of the current Representative Ensemble of the Armed Forces that has trained generations of musicians. It celebrates its 70th anniversary on 2 October. The Bulgarian National Radio Golden Archives keep a recording of founder Dragan Prokopiev:

"The creation of such an ensemble is a complex process. I started with the choir. Ensemble music making requires a range of professional skills. I used the premises of the First Boys High School where I taught music. There were about 120 music instruments in the auditorium of music. I carried an ad in the press about the upcoming audition for the new professional ensemble at the Bulgarian Army. It attracted candidates from the famous choirs Gusla, Kaval and others. The public was a bit distrustful of the enterprise - no one imagined that a professional choir could emerge in Bulgaria at all. So with the first candidates that I selected I began work on the repertoire of the brand new choir. "

Dragan Prokopiev's dedication and the diligence of the singers were rewarded - staffed with 26 singers with the name Military Representative Choir the ensemble gave its first concert in 1944. The next objective of its conductor was to recruit instrumentalists. Gradually the band to the choir emerged as well. With this diversified lineup the Ensemble of the Bulgarian People's Army was presented at the Musical Theater in 1945 and received rave reviews. Composer Asen Karastoyanov had a major role in its development as he wrote about fifty songs especially for it. Over time, Dragan Prokopiev managed to recruit some of the best voices of Bulgaria at that time - Dimitar Uzunov, Nikola Nikolov and others.

We should not forget one important detail directly linked to the history of the Ensemble of the Bulgarian Army. In 1962, and Army Pop Music Ensemble was founded at the Theatre of the People's Army in Sofia. Its stars were some of the leading names in Bulgarian pop music including Irina Chmihova and Margret Nikolova. It was this ensemble that produced the first musicals in this country. In 1977, this pop ensemble became part of the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Bulgarian Army.

Since its creation, the Bulgarian Army Ensemble has performed in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa, and has been praised everywhere for the quality of its work. At the beginning of the new millennium, now with a new structure, it has continued its creative pursuits. The current lineup of the ensemble includes the Army Song Male Vocal Quartet, the Ladena Women's Folk Quartet and its soloists are among the most famous Bulgarian pop singers like Margarita Hranova and Orlin Goranov. In 2009 the new name of the group was introduced, Representative Ensemble of the Armed Forces, and a few months later famous folk singers Guna Ivanova and Raiko Kirilov were recruited. This variety of genres shapes the contemporary character of the group committed to promoting the Bulgarian music culture worldwide.

English Daniela Konstantinova

The audio file contains the followiing works:

1. What a Blossom Blossomed, music by Asen Karastoyanov, in the rendition of the Bulgarian Army Ensemble, live recording, 1952, BNR Golden Archives

2. A Lad Fell Asleep, a folk song, Ladena Quartet

3. I Took My Horse Out, a folk song, Guna Ivanova

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