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Kostadin Genchev: “Folklore is an inexhaustible treasure trove”

Photo: BNR - archive

Folk music is the life and calling for the famous Bulgarian shepherd’s flute player Kostadin Genchev. He recently rounded up his 50th anniversary that accumulated the inspired work of this renowned musician - a virtuoso instrumentalist, making arrangements for songs, melodies and Bulgarian folk dance music, an author of folk-based music for films, theatre productions, participant in many national and international music projects. He is the co-founder of the innovative music bands "Bulgara", "Diva Reka" (Wild River), especially popular with the youth audience, being defined as an exceptional phenomenon on the Bulgarian stage.

Kostadin Genchev owes his success to his dedication to music but also to the theoretical knowledge he acquired at the Kotel-based National School of Folk Arts and the National Music Academy in Sofia, where he graduated with a degree in composition in the class of Professor Krassimir Taskov. He also collected valuable professional experience in the Sliven folklore ensemble, the Philip Koutev National Folklore Ensemble and his current work as a soloist at the Folk Music Orchestra of the Bulgarian National Radio, in whose repertoire he has a large share.

Kostadin Genchev talks to Radio Bulgaria about the role of folk music in the art of composing and about his latest project.

"Every period of life is important for growing up in music as in my case," Kostadin Genchev says, adding:

I always try to present something new, something different with a lot of taste, aesthetics based on what I've learned over the years. I hope people will appreciate it and like it. Of course, the basis of everything is folklore. I grew up with it and that’s how I started to do music. Over the years, I have expanded my horizons and entered also the realm of classical music. I have a degree is composition, which is a very rich and serious pursuit. I look back and see that I have drawn artistic examples from jazz, ethno music, and applied them to my music. I hope I'm on the right track”, Kostadin Genchev admits.

As the musician puts it, folklore gives "fresh blood" to music.

The greatest masterpieces in Bulgarian symphonic music are created on the basis of Bulgarian folklore. We are a small territory that has the potential to be in an interesting geographical location. Over the centuries, a conglomerate of nations, peoples, and cultures has gathered here and Bulgaria is the centre. That is why folklore is the inexhaustible source of music”.

My worldview is related to ethno jazz and world music, the musician says. “These are our artistic pursuits, mine and those of my colleagues from the Bulgara and Diva Reka bands. We created interesting music, so far I have not heard any negative opinions. The Bulgara Band is something unique. We will be celebrating our 20th anniversary soon. The group has remained as a pivot and enjoyed great interest. We have an interesting concept, we are doing new things together with our soloist Eva Perchemlieva - covers of various songs, including folk songs. We often take out old, forgotten songs and give them new life. Serious music should have a long life.

We've been bringing back to light music from 20 years ago and now we're reinventing them in a new way. I would also like to present the music I wrote about the Historical Park near Varna . This is a very interesting project of patriotic Bulgarians, the music represents the historical epochs of Bulgaria from the Eolithic to the Second Bulgarian Kingdom and the fall under the Ottoman yoke.”

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