Dunav Ensemble- pride of Bulgaria’s North-West and Bulgaria’s culture

Photo: private library

Vidin is a port city situated on the southern bank of Danube River in North-West Bulgaria. It is close to the borders with Romania and Serbia and the local culture is influenced by the culture of those two countries as well. The long-term coexistence with the neighboring countries has left a permanent mark on the music, dances, customs and traditions in that Bulgarian city. Along with the distinctive local singers, musicians and dancers the ensemble for folklore songs and dances Dunav has turned into a faithful guardian of the local folklore. In 2017 Dunav Folklore Ensemble celebrates its 45th anniversary. All those years have been marked with a series of creative searches, permanent work and love with the local traditions. As a result, the ensemble for folklore songs and dances Dunav placed among Bulgaria’s best folk ensembles and was recognized both in this country and abroad.


The chief artistic director of the ensemble for folklore songs and dances Dunav Gencho Genchev told Radio Bulgaria details about some of the most important stages of the ensemble’s development over the years.

Снимка“I joined the ensemble for folklore songs and dances Dunav four years after its establishment. My colleague Luben Boldokov was the first choir conductor and Kamen Marinov was conducting the orchestra. When I graduated from the National Music Academy in 1975 I was employed at the Dunav Ensemble. The musicians were already taught how to play sheet music. However, none of the female singers knew how to read sheet music. Gradually we employed younger singers who knew how to read sheet music. Nowadays things look quite easy, because most of the musicians graduate from the music academy. When I joined the Dunav Ensemble the celebrated Bulgarian composer and arranger Philip Koutev once told me: Look, you must be recognizable in Bulgaria. You must not be a pale imitator of the Northern Ensemble, the Pirin Folk Ensemble, etc. You must have your own appearance, find local songs, tunes and people for your ensemble, so that all music fans know they are enjoying the performance of a Vidin ensemble. My main task is to discover, preserve and popularize the folklore of North-West Bulgaria. However, each ensemble performing abroad must present dances, songs and tunes from other Bulgarian folklore regions, because we represent Bulgaria there. We are laureates of gold medals from all Bulgarian music festivals. In 1981 we earned the Golden Highlanders Axe prize at the Zakopane International Festival of Highland Folklore, Poland. We performed quite successfully at music contests in Italy, Egypt and in Turnu Severin (Romania). We also won the Golden Lyre award in Bulgaria. We received that prize by the Union of Bulgarian Musicians and Dancers. In Turkey we won the second prize at a prestigious international contest in competition with 20 music ensembles. We are grateful to the Mayor of Vidin who cares about the Dunav Ensemble. The north-west region is poor, but the city Mayor is taking good care of the people from this ensemble. This is why I would like to thank the Vidin Mayor and his team on behalf of the whole Dunav ensemble.”

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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