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Kichka Savova's songs "come to life" in a virtual national tour

90th anniversary since the birth of the famous folk singer

Photo: Kichka Savova Foundation

February 22 marks the 90th anniversary of the birth of Kichka Savova - one of the most significant singers from Bulgaria's Thrace folklore region. All who knew her during her lifetime keep in their hearts the memory of a talented, truly good, bright and kind person. Kichka Savova left dozens of recordings for the Bulgarian National Radio, among which the emblematic "I heard, love, I understood", "Rade, Rade, white Rade", "Yovke le, uzundzhovke le" (from the village of Uzundzhovo), which carried over time her devotion to her own roots and the song tradition of the Thrace folklore region. ‎

There are many young performers whom the singer was able to introduce to folklore art not only as a teacher, but also as a patron of the International Festival "With the songs of Kichka Savova". Established in 2008, the forum still gathers talented singers of different ages in her native village of Sladun, located a few kilometers from the Bulgarian border with the Republic of Turkey. ‎

The Kichka Savova Foundation, founded by the heirs of the famous singer, will mark the 90th anniversary of her birth with several events. Stefka Zdravkova, chairwoman of the foundation and daughter of the singer, tells us more about the most large-scale initiative:

‎"We decided to dedicate the whole of 2024 to this anniversary in a very nice way that fully matches her personality. We are organizing a virtual tour with the participation of students majoring in folk singing at the Pancho Vladigerov National Academy of Music in Sofia and the Assen Diamandiev Academy for Music, Dance and Fine Arts in Plovdiv and students from the two specialized music schools in Bulgaria (the Philip Koutev National School of Folk Arts in Kotel and the National School for Folklore Art in Shiroka Laka).

We give young singers the opportunity to perform songs from my mother's repertoire, which they will record on video. Everywhere, the idea was enthusiastically received by teachers and their graduates. All this makes me happy and I know that we are on the right path. People remember Kichka Savova, they worked together with her on juries, at festivals and concerts. 

For me, she is my mother, the kindest, the best, the most dedicated person. I can say that only after I lost her, I realized the importance of her work, I saw how bright a mark she left in her professional life. Everyone speaks of her with great warmth and love. We do what we can to keep her name alive. And to make sure that everything she created, all her creativity, will reach young people. This was her covenant, to which she devoted the last years of her life. Besides being an established singer, she put a lot of energy into training young performers. We decided to continue her work by creating the foundation to support young talents."

Following its mission, the foundation continues to support the holding of the competition in the village of Sladun, in which there are usually about 1,500 participants. It is organized by the community center "Izgrev", the mayor of the village, supported by the municipality of Svilengrad and the mayor arch. Karchev, as well as the Ministry of Culture and the Institute of Ethnography and Folklore at the Bulgarian Academy of  Sciences. The big prize that the laureates receive, ‎usually about 7 young singers, is participation in a master class under the guidance of ‎Darina Slavova - one of Kichka Savova's favorite students, a folk singing teacher at the National Academy of Music and a soloist of the Trakia' ensemble. 

In 2023, a collection of 20 iconic songs by Kichka Savova was released - an invaluable opportunity for young talents to draw from the source. ‎

The songs were arranged for voice and piano by the composer Georgi Andreev, director of the Philip Koutev National Folklore Ensemble. With the help of Vanya Moneva, creator and conductor of the world-famous choir that bears her name and Darina Slavova, students from the National Academy of Music presented them on the concert stage. The songs in this collection will "come alive" again on the virtual national tour through the performances of students and schoolchildren, which will also be heard on the airwaves of the most important national media.‎

Photos: Kichka Savova Foundation

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