Published: September 21, 2010

Photos by Aaron Bittel


Alexander Nevsky cathedral, landmark
of the city of Sofia, nearby the National
Orchestra Hall, where the choir
performed the first concert of its tour.



The UCLA Balkan choir “Superdevoiche” made a three-stop concert tour in Bulgaria this summer. This is the third trip to Bulgaria by the choir, although many of the participants this year were first timers. Current UCLA students who went on the trip included Clara Dykstra, Rina Agee, Pavlina Aleksandrova, and Anahita Navab. A number of UCLA alumni also made the trip, including Mimi Soo-Hoo, Jessica Ng, Aaron Bittel, and Megan Rancier. The choir gave concerts in three different cities during their week-long trip. The first stop was the capital city of Sofia, where the UCLA choir performed with nine other choirs from the U.S. and Europe in a massive concert celebrating choir director Tsvetanka Varimezova’s 50th birthday. The celebration continued in Varimezova’s hometown of Pazardhik, where the combined choirs repeated their fantastic performance. The last stop towards the end of the trip was an amazing Bulgarian folk music festival in the town of Koprivshtitsa. Choir members had a chance to take in a full day of the festival – which takes place only once every five years – and then to perform for a huge crowd of festival-goers on an outdoor stage in the middle of town. Through this trip, choir members received an invaluable first-hand experience of Bulgarian culture. It was also a wonderful tribute to Varimezova and her tireless efforts to promote appreciation of Bulgarian music at UCLA, and all over the world. -- Megan Rancier

"To me, it felt like our trip to Bulgaria was a 'kitka,' or a bouquet, of fantastical moments springing out of every direction we looked. With the entire Varimezov family and Dr. Tim Rice as our ever-generous and exciting guides, we felt free to explore this wonderful country in a once-in-a-lifetime musical opportunity. We connected not only with our own choirs, but with all of the choirs brought together under Tzvetanka's direction, and with the Bulgarian community itself that we played for, listened to, danced with, and connected with. I was in constant awe of the fact that we would never have met all of these different phenomenal singers, spent nights dancing and drinking at luxurious Bulgarian banquets, or attended and participated in massive folk festivals that spread through Koprivshtitsa's lush, rolling green hills, if it were not for the opportunities that UCLA's Ethnomusicology Department provided for us students in the choir. I will never lose my gratitude for being given such a colorful, dynamic, and most of all, musical, experience." -- Anahita Navab



Superdevoiche singing at a gala concert celebrating the work of director Tzvetanka Varimezova in her home town
of Pazardzhik


Music of the Balkans co-director Tzvetanka Varimezova is
accompanied on the gadulka by Ivanka Paunova, director
of the choir of the Pazardzhik Ensemble for Folk Songs
and Dances



Music of the Balkans co-director Ivan Varimezov plays the
gaida with the Pazardzhik Ensemble orchestra



Tzvetanka sings a song with her daughters Tanya (L) and
Radka (R)