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Theodosii Spassov about the music of Antarctica

I had secretly dreamed of playing to the penguins there

| updated on 2/18/20 11:46 AM
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Photo: Prof. Hristo Pimpirev




Kaval-player of world renown Theodosii Spassov is the first solo performer to have played on all continents on the planet. At the moment he is a member of the 28th Bulgarian Antarctic expedition, together with guitarist Hristian Tsvyatkov.

Inspired by the inimitable beauty and nature of the icy continent, the two musicians have already written 10 new compositions, among them “Dancing with penguins”, “Lame dog”, “Wolf Bay”, “Waiting for you forever”, “Drake’s Tigers”, “Thirsting for Freedom” and “Living in Stones” (Livingston being the name of the island where the Bulgarian Antarctic base St. Kliment Ohridski is located).


The first concert of its kind in Antarctica took place on 8 February in the renovated Spanish base Juan Carlos I (the only other polar base on Livingston Island). The audience, consisting of Spanish and Bulgarian Polar researchers were able to listen to Spanish flamenco and Bulgarian horo. Theodosii Spassov and Hristian Tsvyatkov are the first duet to have played on the icy continent and the first musicians to have composed and recorded music there. Days later the two gave a concert in front of an audience in Antarctic waters – on board the Spanish polar research ship Hesperides in Bransfield Strait.

Before leaving for the icy continent at the end of January, Theodosii Spassov said:

It all happened as if by a miracle. I had secretly dreamed of going there and playing to the penguins – they may even prefer the kaval to people. Nobody knows. They might not like the music, they might run for their lives and dive into the sea…

Theodosii and Hristian’s impressions, feelings and ideas during their long journey from Bulgaria to Antarctica and back, and also to Chile, to the icy waters of Drake Passage, and during their stay on Livingston Island, are now taking shape in musical form.

The two musicians played amongst the penguins and seals and far from being frightened the animals listened attentively. An audio recorder was used to record the compositions of such quality that, as Theodossii says, there is no difference to the sound quality of recordings made at the BNR’s concert studio, studio No. 1.

It is my intention to make an album that will include music, photographs and video. A crew will video the entire process of making music - maybe a 30-minute film. To me photography is a hobby and I will take pictures of the things that make an impression on me there.

In May, 1996 Theodosii Spassov took part in a 50-day expedition to the Himalayas and recorded the “highest altitude” concert in the world on Kala Patthar plateau (5,350 m.), right opposite Everest. This concert was entered in the Guinness book of records and released as an album in Bulgaria.

These journeys are journeys we take towards our own selves, the musician says, comparing the Himalayas with Antarctica. During those long hours of passage you are left with your own thoughts. Following in the “footsteps of thousands of feet”, as this route is dubbed from Lukla to Kala Patthar and to base camp, you have time to think – it may be from the rarefied air, or from something else, I don’t know.

As to how unique this artistic endeavour is, he says:

Metallica have played there, but without equipment, with music in their headphones so as not to disturb the animals there. This is actually the first time music is composed there. Vangelis has an album called Antarctica (1983) but it was not written there, it is just dedicated to Antarctica.

We shall play the things that come to us as ideas during our journey. Then they have to “ripen” to turn into music.


Photos: Prof. Hristo Pimpirev

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