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When "100 kaba bagpipes" play together, time comes to a standstill

The unique instrumental group celebrates six decades on stage

Photo: 100kabagaidi.com

A legend was born 60 years ago. Then, for the first time, unheard music echoed over the ridges of Bulgaria’s Rhodope Mountains. The simultaneous performance of 100 kaba bagpipes literally blew up the audience at the First National Folklore Festival at Rozhen, and the newly formed orchestra "100 kaba bagpipes" was declared the "Miracle of the Rhodopes". The year was 1961. The one hundred bagpipers from the town of Smolyan, gathered by Apostol Kisov /1924-2007/ in the unique formation, captivated the hearts and imagination of tens of thousands of connoisseurs of Bulgarian folk music not only in Bulgaria but also around the world!


When the 100 instruments sound in one voice, people receive goosebumps and hold their breath, and time literally stops. This is the case to this day because the bagpipe is an instrument of special symbolism in Bulgarian folklore. And its variety, the kaba bagpipe, is typical of the Rhodopes and represents the sound landscape of the mountain, with its smooth ridges and the old stone villages scattered on them. The word "kaba" comes from the Turkish language and means "thick", "dense". It is in this feature that the charm of the Rhodope bagpipe lies. Its voice is thick, deep and … noble.


For six decades now, the 100 kaba bagpipes from Smolyan have been singing in one voice, and the talented instrumentalists regularly win the first prizes at International Folklore Festivals and competitions. It is no coincidence that the ensemble is registered in the National System "Living Human Treasures" as part of the Bulgarian intangible heritage. In the present day, the group rehearses at the Smolyan-based cultural community centre “Orfeevi gori 1870” (The forests of Orpheus) and is the proud holder of a trade mark certificate and a token from Bulgaria’s Patent Office.


Among the prominent representatives of the "100 kaba bagpipes" is the master bagpiper Hristo Topchiev from the Smolyan district of Raykovo, who became famous for his bizarre inventions of the smallest and largest bagpipes in the world.

"100 kaba bagpipes" also has a "cheerful replacement" in the face of the children's bagpipe orchestra from the town of Devin, created in the distant 1956 by Apostol Kisov to promote the ancient kaba bagpipes.


English Rositsa Petkova

Photos: 100kabagaidi.com

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