Village Harmony

Bulgaria Camp – July 10 – 24 (15 days) – $1700

Date: July 10-24, 2016
Venue: Hotel Valentino 2, Dobrinishte, Pirin Region, Bulgaria
Leaders: Petrana Kucheva, Patty Cuyler, Bulgarka Junior Quartet, Emil Ivanov
Price: $1700

Village Harmony’s fifth camp in Bulgaria—and our first trip back since 2007—will focus on studying traditional music styles and dances and interacting and learning from local singers and musicians in the Rhodope and Pirin regions.

Bulgarian singersThe first week of the trip we will take over the  attractive Hotel Valentino-2 in the village of Dobrinishte in the southern Pirin regions, enjoying gondola trips up Bez Bog and open mineral baths and dining on traditional Bulgarian fare. Dobrinishte is a historically and culturally rich Bulgarian town with amazing old houses and museums, mineral spas and pools, and mountain trails. During this initial week we will have the opportunity to meet and study with local singers and folk ensembles from Dobrinishte, Razlog and Bansko, and will spend three days working closely with the members of the well-known Plovdiv-based Bulgarka Junior Quartet as well as meet with musicians from nearby Bansko, which especially known for its men’s singing tradition.

From Dobrinishte we will travel to the village of Satovcha in the southern Rhodope mountains to spend two days studying with singers of the unique local style known as na visoko. From Satovcha we will stop for two days in the town of Pazardjik, where we will visit our dance teacher Emil Ivanov‘s home-town ensemble and perform in a festival with local dance groups. As we near the end of our two weeks we will travel eastward to Ajtos, 25 km from the Black Sea coast city of Burgas, before ending our stay in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city.

There will be opportunities for those interested to study traditional Bulgarian instruments, both during the rehearsal week and with musicians along our tour route.


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Petrana Kucheva

Pepa-KuchevaPetrana (Pepa) Kucheva grew up in a family of singers in Thrace, Bulgaria. In her time in the US, she has toured and performed extensively, including concert appearances at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall and at the United Nations. She founded and directed the singing group Pesnopojka in New York City, and has taught Balkan music at the Balkan Music and Dance workshops on both coasts and throughout the United Sttes. Pepa has four recordings to her name and has won many honors in her native Bulgaria for her performances and activities in teaching traditional music. In 1999 the Slavic Heritage Council of America awarded her a special Certificate of Recognition in gratitude for her outstanding contributions to the Slavic community of Greater New York. In 2013 Pepa collaborated with the Packard Library of Congress making video recordings for audio and visual conservation. Pepa continues to tirelessly work for the preservation of Bulgarian traditional music through teaching, mentoring and conducting, and organizing workshops and seminars. Pepa has taught off and on with Village Harmony since 1999. This will be the fifth trip to Bulgaria that Pepa has organized for us.

Patty Cuyler

Patty Cuyler photoPATTY CUYLER, born in California, educated at Princeton University, long-time resident of Vermont and currently living in Chicago, IL, is an energetic, dynamic workshop leader and choral director and is internationally-renowned for her expertise in teaching Corsican, Georgian and South African music. She has been co-director of Village Harmony since 1995 and over the years spear-headed the expansion of the organization’s reach into the four corners of the globe. It was primarily Patty’s vision and labor that shaped Village Harmony’s response to the pandemic year.

Patty has co-led Village Harmony’s community world music choir Boston Harmony (which she founded) since 2005 as well as the Chicago World Music Chorus (2013) closer to home.









Bulgarka Junior Quartet

Bulgarka Junior QuartetThe four female singers of the Bulgarka Junior Quartet— formed in 1989 as the ‘next generation’ incarnation of the internationally-famous Trio Bulgarka—in the western city of Plovdiv—hail from different Bulgarian folklore region with specific and rich vocal heritage. Each of the singers was brought up singing traditional folk music in their families before they began their professional careers. The ensemble’s repertoire includes both traditional Bulgarian folk songs and arranged Bulgarian folk music by some of the most notable contemporary composers

Emil Ivanov

Emil Ivanov is choreographer of the Pazardzhik Ensemble in western Bulgaria. He taught our first Village Harmony Bulgaria camp session an award-winning dance set for its 2000 performance at the prestigious Koprivshtitsa Festival. His infinite patience and endless humor make him a perennially popular and well-beloved dance instructor. As he has for Village Harmony’s previous Bulgaria sessions, Emil will be doing a lot of our on-the-ground arrangements for this Bulgaria camp.


Hotel Valentino 2, Dobrinishte, Pirin Region, Bulgaria

DobrinishteThe Hotel Valentino 2 is a gem in the breathtaking Rhodope mountains in Bulgaria. The hotel is in the picturesque village of Dobrinishte in the Pirin Mountains six kilometers from Bansko. Dobrinishte has been famous for its mineral springs since ancient times.  Surrounded by the three mountain ranges—Rila, Pirin and Rhodope—Dobrinishte is a popular summer and winter resort surrounded by unspoiled natural beauty and replete with historic architecture and friendly inhabitants.