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Chubritsa - the Dutch choir named after a Bulgarian spice

Photo: chubritsa.nl

Ensemble Chubritsa from Amsterdam, the Netherlands, is one of the longest-standing Bulgarian folklore choirs outside of the country. The folk choir Chubritsa (meaning Bulgarian traditional savoury)was founded in 2004 by the famous folk singer Galina Durmushliyska, together with conductor Ivo Boswijk and manager Jaap van Beelen. Since then, the singers and instrumentalists of Chubritsa have made numerous guest appearances in Bulgaria. They were also in Bulgaria in August this year for concerts in the towns of Gotse Delchev, Dobrinishte and at the National Folk Art Festival in Koprivshtitsa.

Since 2018, the conductor of Chubritsa is Svetla Kleijn Anastasova. For 18 years she has been living in the Netherlands, where she leads four other choirs, but only Chubritsa is a folk choir. In Bulgaria, she graduated from the Academy of Music and Dance and Fine Arts - Plovdiv with a degree in conducting. Before that she studied folk singing and tambura at the National School of Folk Arts in Shiroka Luka.

Svetla Kleijn Anastasova

ˮThe school was opened in 1971,ˮ says Svetla. From a very young age I attended all the rehearsals of the ensembles and soloists, all the concerts. I had great teachers in Bulgarian folklore, I learned a lot from them. I also remember the Rhodope songs of my grandparents. I have very strong roots."

Leading Chubritsa is quite a specific task, says the conductor. It's an amateur ensemble, so all the singers have different jobs. Some of them discovered their love of Bulgarian folklore in their in their teenage years, having visited Bulgaria long before the ensemble was formed. They know dozens of songs which they perform by heart, with inspiration and attention to the Bulgarian language. They have released two albums - "Godinite, Godinite " (Years, Years) and "Ochi, Chorni Ochi" (Eyes, Black Eyes).

There are only three Bulgarians in the choir - Nadia Oreshkova, Ana Samoukova and Hristina Karageorgieva (our colleague who worked at the English editorial office of Radio Bulgaria). From the lyrics of the songs, and also because of the contacts with Bulgarian performers during the numerous guest appearances in Bulgaria, the enthusiasts of the choir have learned quite a few words, although they don't actually speak Bulgarian.

With some of the members of the choir

ˮWhen we learn a new song, I first tell them what it is about, which folklore area it is from, what are the ornaments and costumes characteristic of the area, what is the temperament of the people of that area. I record on a sound file very slowly the whole text. Together with members of the choir leadership, we translate the song and transcribe it phonetically. On record I sing each part very slowly, if there are specific ornaments I also sing them very slowly. As we progress in mastering, I sing the song in the original tempo. We rehearse twice a month - every second and fourth Sunday, but I give them homework, they are used to this way of working. It is difficult to found such a choir, so it is important to remember who laid the foundations. I'm extremely grateful to Galina Durmusliyska, to Ivo Boswijk, and to Renske Velthuis, who conducted the choir after him. The ensemble has never stopped rehearsing. Even during the pandemic we rehearsed very intensely. Traditionally, we have many concerts and a huge number of fans, whom we try to surprise with something new at every concert."

Photos: Albena Bezovska, chubritsa.nl
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