Dobrin Dobrev: If you were born in Dobroudzha and have lived under its stars, you shall be under its spell, always

Photo: private library

Folk singer Dobrin Dobrev has been living in Cyprus for more than a decade. He is manager of an information office for the legalization of documents and the organization of cultural events. Together with the Bulgarian embassy he has organized many concerts by renowned Bulgarian performers. The 80th birthday of prominent folk singer Yanka Rupkina was marked in 2018 in Larnaca. It is thanks to his efforts that, through the years, other singers have also performed in Cyprus, like Ruska Stoimenova and Daniel Spassov.

After a pause of almost 20 years, at the beginning of 2019 Dobrin came to the Bulgarian National Radio for a recording session:

“The songs are arranged by Dimitar Hristov, conductor of the BNR”s Folk Music Orchestra,” the singer says. “He has such a flair for music, I really admire his work. I am also deeply grateful to producer Vanya Moneva for all of her support and help. She is a marvelous musician and conductor, she works with such precision and there was so little time – I only came to Bulgaria for two days. There were songs from the repertoire of Vulkana Stoyanova, Elena Vassileva-Bilneva, Ivan Georgiev.”

Dobrin was born in Dobrich but he grew up in the village of Saradzha (now Rositsa) where his mother’s family comes from. He is proud of the fact that prominent Bulgarian writer Yordan Yovkov was a teacher in that same village from 1905 until 1907, and it was from village life that he took his characters and a great many of his stories. One of Yovkov’s most famous characters is actually Dobrin’s great-grandfather.

As a child the singer liked pop, and the first time he took notice of folk music was at the cinema:

“I went to the cinema and before the film there was a short news reel. Along with all of the achievements of the socialist economy and the cooperative farms, it showed the Philip Koutev folk ensemble on a tour abroad. When I heard the music it made such an impression on me that I made up my mind that my future was in folk music. I was 12 when I joined the Dobroudzha ensemble studio. After that I took part in one of the Bulgarian National Radio’s music contests. The panel included academician Nikolay Kaufman, Maria Kouteva, wife of Philip Koutev, whom I later came to know and love dearly, as well as renowned folk singer Verka Siderova. After listening to me sing she asked to talk to me. She said she wanted to leave her songs to someone and that as I was from her own part of the country, she asked whether my parents would allow me to come to Sofia. I answered that if they didn’t I would run away.

In the autumn of 1986 I came to Sofia. In 1991 I made by first recordings at the BNR. My career is closely connected with the national radio, I have made recordings at the regional radio stations in Stara Zagora and in Plovdiv – songs arranged by Anastas Naumov, Kosta Kolev and others.”

The concert by the Svetoglas quartet, Olga Borissova and Violeta Marinova, will be in Limassol in just a few days’ time, on 19 May. It is dedicated to 24 May, day of the Slavonic alphabet, Bulgarian enlightenment and culture. Co-organizer of the event is the Paisius of Hilendar Bulgarian school in the capital of Cyprus with headmistress Tanya Hristova. Naturally, Dobrin Dobrev is also among the performers at the concert.

“I have never stopped singing – at home, at the office, I take music with me everywhere I go, and the place where I was born. I am very fond of something poetess Dora Gabe once said: If you were born in Dobroudzha and have lived under its stars, you shall be under its spell, always.”

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