Archives for March2016

St. Petka-Paraskeva

petka9-minThe Church of St. Petka–Paraskeva is somewhat skipped by the standard tourist routes, which are mostly concentrated in the central parts of the city. It is located at the side of the road leading you out of the city, just right next to the bridge, known amongst the locals as the Snail.

On a cool sunny morning in March the taxi is carefully making progress along the narrow neighborhood street frustratingly studded with asphalt undulations, and stops near the entrance of the Orthodox temple. Out of excitement I can hardly unlock my phone to start making pictures. Though I grew up in Rousse, I have never been here before.

The construction works began in 1939. They were initiated and mainly paid for by a local ceraftsman and businessman. petka2-minThe architecture of the church is a replica of the Round Church built by King Simeon the Great in Veliki Preslav and is the first successful attempt for the architectural plans intended for the restoration of the Golden Church to be implemented. Craftsmen from the city worked on the carving of the iconostasis inside as well as on the painting of murals. The overall financing of the construction was also carried out through donations made by other churches in the city. The church  was completed in 1944 when its consecration was done. It takes its name from the name of the last rock church iin the Rusenski Lom River valley, the Church of Sveta Petka, which was buried under the ground after the Liberation.

A little anteroom with the traditional cabndle-selling counter greets me. Despite the solitude of this remote corner of spirituality, a smiling woman over 60 welcomes me with a good-natured look through her frames. The wood stove is booming and through the glass I see the playful flames darting up and then seemingly safely resting. I talk to her, she comes out following me around smiling, telling me that the Church Administration have applied for funding to restore the temple. I am told the church has never been restored ever since it was built and that the need is acute as the fence and other parts have begun to crumble.

I look at the murals and the painted glass windows, seeing the oozing light streaming through the dome and am engulfed in colour and tranquility. We exchange a few more words about the present and its people, us including, too busy to deny cultural values that uphold them, if only in churches. And yet, when she asks where I come from and what I do for a living, I see her genuine kindness. She’s an optimist. So am I.

Read more about the Church of St. Petka–Paraskeva here. Part of the materials for this article was provided by the Regional Museum of History in Rousse. See below a few more photos of the Church.

The photos in the article are owned by this website.

Kamen Donev

kamen2I wish I could tell you something you haven’t read about Kamen Donev; or that he himself has not communicated about his personality through the wording of his performances, through the dances and choreography he creates, or the irony and patented sense of humor he exhibits, all of which reveal a sincere love for Bulgaria, its past and present, people and traditions.

Kamen Donev is an actor, director, playwright, and choreographer. Born in Rousse, he graduated from the class of Krikor Azaryan and Todor Kolev—two names much famous in Bulgaria—at the National Theatre Academy. He participates in “The Street” blockbuster comedy series directed by Tedi Moskov together with Maya Novoselska, Krastio Lafazanov and many other favourites of the Bulgarian audience. kamen4 His father, Ivan Donev, was the founder of Naiden Kirov Folk Dance Theater in Rousse, and its director and choreographer until his death in 2012. Since then, Kamen Donev is also Chief Artistic Director of the ensemble. He has won numerous national and international awards in his career so far, including Ikar and Maxim. He has written a book, has worked abroad, but returned to Bulgaria, where he lives with his family today.

In recent years his success is all the more sweeping because of the performances he writes, directs, and performs such as “The Views of a Teacher on the Folk Art,” “The Views of a Teacher on the Common Instruction” and others. At the end of 2015 his performance “On the Weddings” attracted 12,000 spectators at Arena Armeets Hall in Sofia, which is a record attendance at a theatrical production for the country. He also authors skits that are published on the website.

If you succeed in digging up tickets for any of his productions scheduled for 2 or even 3 months ahead and go watch it, prepare yourself for a storm of emotions. Kamen Donev is an exceptional improviser who can make you cry with laughter – and that’s no exaggeration. Even when it comes to a line said many a time, it is performed as if it’s just been thought of and said out loud for the first time and with the sincere desire to be immediately shared with you. His performances are a colorful palette of dance and choreography in which he also invites guests to perform – singers and musicians such as the Boban and Marko Markovic’s Orchestra in “On the Weddings”. kamen1 A spectacle of folklore music and dances, accompanied by his mocking viewpoint, and combined with his explosive sense of humor are the signature of the artist Kamen Donev, with which he creates a unique insight into and of the performing arts in Bulgaria.

His interviews with have shown to a yet greater extent his sarcasm and harsh outlook on pressing social issues. I’ve seen him taking part in some of the protests two years ago. I’m far from limiting his rich personality within chauvinistic frames, but it’s exactly during these interviews that I cannot help but notice the “typical” traits of character people from Rousse exhibit: he is outspoken, calling a spade a spade, with an assertive and uncompromising opinion and an active citizenship standpoint – a noncommercial perceptivity of a nonconventional personality.

Read more about Kamen Donev here and here.

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Emilian Gatzov – Elby

elbi2I remember Elby from the time when our high school was the focal point for many of us in those crazy teenage years. A beautiful boy from a senior class with a charmingly alluding and enigmatic smile—all that it took to rocket him into our charts of the few guys I and my best friends fell for. No, it wasn’t me who dreamt about him, but whenever I saw him, though we were never close, it was a fiest for the eye and soul. There are people you simply like without the necessity to know them further. A fleeting glimpse of them is enough to make your day.

Emilian Gatzov known back then among us and now in his career as a music writer as Elbi, is the invisible but impertinent presence behind the music accompanying many theater performances and works with some of our famous theater directors such as Marius Kurkinski, Desislava Shpatova, Cassie Noah Asher. He produced more than 70 theater and dance soundtracks, won the 2007 Ikar award for the music of Desislava Shpatova‘s “Psychosis  4:48” in “Sfumato”. He is also nominated for 2016 Ikar awards the winners of which will be announced on March 27. Among the productions to which he contributed are the “Inspector”, “Open Marriage”, and “Someone visited my soul”. elbi

Outside the theater he works with dancers from NOMAD Dance Academy, Brain Store Project, “Arabesque” ballet, OisNotAcCompany, Kinesthetic Project. He makes music for short movies, does sound editing, delivers sounds for cultural advertising campaigns, creates remixes. The basic techniques he applies, according to the articles about him on the Internet, are voice processing and focus on effects. Besides modelling music, he also plays the synthesizer. He produces his own music – abstract, experimental, unconventional. He uses the so-called granular synthesis, which enables the incorporation of temporal aspects in music, and participates in international art festivals as well.

His life has had interesting twists most probably because of his (obviously) searching character. As a boy he went to piano lessons, later on graduated from the English Language School in the city, then began playing the synthesizer, and studied philosophy until, finally, he managed to find out his calling through an invitation from a friend to participate in a musical project. Here is yet another person who apparently is not afraid of experimenting with himself.

Read more about Elby here and here.

On you can hear the presentation of “Theatre, My Love!” by Valery Petrov and directed by Kasiel Noah Asher – one of the two productions, for the music of which Elby is shortlisted for the 2016 Ikar awards.

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.

Veselin Topalov

topalov1It is highly unlikely that there is a single person in Bulgaria who is unaware of the fact that Bulgaria contributed to the global development of chess by submitting one of the World Chess Champions.

Veselin Topalov is the 2005-2006 Bulgarian Grandmaster Chess Champion and the 2010-2012 World Vice-Champion. He is born in 1975 in Rousse. His father introduces him to the intellectual magic of chess when the boy is merely 8. At 12 he becomes the Master of Sports and the Junior World Champion for players up to the age of 14, which adorned him with yet another acknowledgement—the one of the International Master of Sports. Among the great many recognitions and awards that come next, are Vice-Champion for adolescents up to the age of 16, Balkan Junior Champion, World Chess Federation (FIDE) Grandmaster, National Champion for Men and a multitude of other prizes from international, regional, and world chess tournaments. topalov2

His World Championship prize follows soon. At the age of 30, on 16 October 2005, Veselin Topalov becomes the World Chess Champion, and his game is rated with an ELO coefficient of 2890 at an average 2739 for the whole championship. For his exceptional achievement, he is awarded the Chess Oscar for 2005.

In 2006 he ranks the World Chart of chess players who have ever reached an ELO coefficient above 2800. His ELO sublime achievement is said to be 2816, which he reaches in 2015. topalov3It shoots him in the Chart of the Eternal Chess World Rankings among the only eight players, who have ever scored an ELO coefficient above 2800 and his name is listed next to the names of the other chess legends – Bobby Fischer, Anatoly Karpov, Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik, Viswanathan Anand, and Magnus Carlsen.

Read more about Veselin Toplaov on Wikipedia.

Watch a chess play between GM Ben Finegold and GM Veselin Topalov from 2015, as well as an interview with our Grandmaster after his victory in Norway during the same year.

The photos in the article are not owned by this website.