Remembering great singer Nadka Karadjova

Photo: library

The nightingale is a sort of a symbol of Nadka Karadjova’s global singing fame, expressed through her marvelous soprano timbre. Her emblematic songs Dragana and the Nightingale, A Nightingale Sings and also the Nightingale Quartet only come to prove that. The name and voice of Nadka Karadjova distinguish her among the legendary Bulgarian singers.

Nadka Karadjova was born in the village of Tri Vodici, Pazardjik region. She came from an old family of musicians, where everybody sang and folk music was the typical background of everyday life and the village fests. In 1952 when she was barely 15, she was noticed by famous composer Filip Kutev at an amateur festival in the city of Plovdiv. In 1953 Nadka was already part of the prestigious formation of the same name, established by Kutev and she would spend 40 years of her life with it. The three-month-long broadcast of the Zableialo Mi Agance /Lamb Bleats/ song by a BBC London radio show in 1979 was a glorious moment of the singer’s career. Due to the huge interest a plate was released afterwards with two pieces, one of them the well-known record under the name Bleating Balkan Lambs. A Japanese tour with the Nightingale Quartet was a musical sensation as well. A series of albums, named Balgarskoto Mnogoglasie /Bulgarian Polyphony/ with renditions of the Filip Kutev Ensemble had been released there, alongside the recordings of Nadka Karadjova, the Nightingale Quartet, the Biserov Sisters. Her Pilence Pee /A Bird is Singing/ song has been included in the Japanese textbooks – children study it during music classes. The unique voice and singing talent with an ensemble of Nadka Karadjova has enormous contribution to the successes of the Cosmic Voices and the Great Bulgarian Voices – the choirs where she used to be a soloist. The archive of the BNR has some 300 solo recordings of her Pazardjik repertoire. Her vocal technique with the slow harvest-time songs and the typical for this style ‘voice knocking’ is remarkable. Nadka Karadjova was awarded with the top state prizes – Cyril and Methodius, the Balkan Mountain, the Golden Plume and Nestinarka /Fire Dancer/ among others. In March we mark the 80th birth anniversary of the great singer. On the eve of one of the concerts at the BNR her daughter Svetla Karadjova said:

“I see her 80th anniversary as a fest of the Bulgarian spirit and folklore. We need to talk on her and her generation – those singers who performed Bulgarian folklore for the first time across all prestigious stages abroad. This is an extraordinary mission. They had the great talent, but also the chance to do it. My mother used to say that the Bulgarian folklore was like a temple. One should approach it with lots of respect for the wisdom of our people. This approach should be careful. She would also say: ‘You should be good, as bad people turn into ugly ones’. The face of a good person tells it all. Her smile, open towards the people was to show me that kindness was the strongest weapon. She also created a mini-society with strong will and lots of love – the Nightingale Quartet. Filip Kutev used to say once that not everyone was good for a chamber performance. You need the right ear, lots of discipline and to be a quick learner. However, she was the person, gifted with those qualities. It is a great pleasure and pride for me to continue the mission of the quartet. We restore old songs of hers, arranged by Filip Kutev. We will continue with songs of Krasimir Kyurkchyiski, Stefan Dragostinov, Kosta Kolev… Many of the concerts this year are dedicated to her. At the moment we are working with pop singers on future performances. We invest lots of efforts in the Square Music project – summer concerts, devoted to her 80th anniversary.”

English version: Zhivko Stanchev 

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