My heart belongs to folklore, 12-year-old Stoyanka from Bulgaria’s Kardzhali says

Stoyanka Nenkova (center) with her teacher Ginka Mateva and rebec player Vesselin Doychev
Photo: Sevkie Chakir

Presenting Bulgarian traditions is inextricably linked to the sounds of the Bulgarian folk song. And when it comes to Bulgarian folklore, we should not miss to mention the children who are always welcome on stage during celebrations and holidays. Today we meet 12-year-old Stoyanka Nenkova from Kardzhali, whose singing is often heard on the waves of the youngest regional radio station of BNR - Radio Kardzhali. Stoyanka was part of the folk group that participated in its opening on May 9, 2016 and was then a guest to a Radio Bulgaria broadcast from the studio of the Kardzhali station, on the occasion of the city's festive day - October 21st.

In her traditional Rhodope folk costume with rich Bulgarian embroidery and with her youth, purity and charm she reminds us of the portraits of girls by famous Bulgarian artist from the beginning of the past century - Vladimir Dimitrov - The Master.

Here's what Stoyanka Nenkova told us: “I study at the Vasil Levski School in the town of Kardzhali. I sing in the ‘Rodopski Far 1938’ community center. My teacher of folklore Ginka Mateva started working with me when I was in third grade."

Stoyanka told us that when her family celebrates anniversaries and holidays, her parents have always loved to listen to her singing, encouraging her and being proud of her. But of course, her biggest fans are her grandfather and grandmother who live far away in Veliko Tarnovo but love to listen to her every time she is on the radio and television. In addition to singing folk songs, she loves dancing. As far as festivals are concerned, Stoyanka has so far participated in the Orpheus Spring National Folklore Contest.

“Ms. Mateva teaches me how to sing, she selects the songs according to my voice and I perform them. Besides folklore, I like modern music, too. But, of course, my heart belongs to folklore.”

To the question if more time should be spent on Bulgarian folklore in school, Stoyanka's answer is definitely yes.

“These are the songs of our Homeland – people should learn and know them. My classmates are proud of me and I am happy about that. Most of them also perform Bulgarian folk songs and participate in folklore ensembles.”

We wish Stoyanka successful conquering of the stage and we continue the conversation with her folklore teacher Ginka Mateva:

“I am also a music teacher at one of the schools in Kardzhali. There really is a need for teachers to promote Bulgarian folklore because children are not very well acquainted with it and do not know much about the various folklore regions of Bulgaria. But I think my students know how many folklore areas there are in Bulgaria, what the better known instruments are, what the characteristics of the various styles are. This is the minimum they should know. Yes, there is a need for studying Bulgarian folklore at school because there are many children who want to know about it and perform it.”

Although born in the heart of the Eastern Rhodopes, 12-year-old Stoyanka does not perform Rhodope songs. According to her teacher, her voice is more suitable for songs from other folklore areas. Even for the side observer it is clear that teacher Ginka Mateva and master of the gadulka Veselin Doychev have managed to bring inspiration and love for Bulgarian folklore to Stoyanka and many more children from Kardzhali.

English: Alexander Markov

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