Thousands of people have seen the Bulgarian Georgi Petrov – one of the world’s finest gadoulka players – on the stages of Europe without realising who he really is: The musician, arranger and composer of Sofia is a leading instrumentalist in the popular dance show Riverdance. A number of his talented Bulgarien “Friends” contributed on this recording.
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Thousands of people have seen the Bulgarian Georgi Petrov – one of the world’s finest gadoulka players – on the stages of Europe without realising who he really is: The musician, arranger and composer of Sofia is a leading instrumentalist in the popular dance show Riverdance. A number of his talented Bulgarien “Friends” contributed on this recording After Sunset.
Composed of the half traditional and half Petrov’s original compositions, it features the cream of contemporary Bulgarian folk instrumental talent. However “Father’s Song”, one of the most evocative tunes on the album, is begun by the haunting duduk playing of Petrov’s father Iordan, thus giving the project a living link with Petrov’s home region and the ancient folk music tradition that has been passed down over the centuries.
The impressive singer on four of the albums tracks is Stoimenka Nedlyakova, a member of The Bulgarian Voices Angelite, and regarded as one of the best young singers in Bulgaria. Her husband Nedyalko Nedyalkov is the astounding kaval (end-blown flute) player featured on the album; like Georgi Petrov, Nedyalko is regarded as one of the best in the world on his instrument. They have toured widely together, and he is a current member of the Radio Sofia Orchestra. The subtle keyboard parts on the album are played by Georgi Andreev, a classically trained composer and conductor who assisted Petrov with many of the arrangements. He and Georgi Petrov have known each other for many years, and Andreev even learned to play the gadoulka after he heard Petrov’s playing. The other musicians on the album include Angel Dimitrov (tamboura), Dimiter Todorov, (tapan – a hand drum and gaida – a Bulgarian bagpipe) and Evgeny Eremyev (double bass).
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Georgi Petrov was born on the 13th of May 1962 in the small village of Sinagovstl, in north west Bulgaria near the Danube river, not far from the borders of Romania and Serbia. The region is named after the town of Vidin, and it is an area where three countries’ folk cultures have intermingled to some extent, a fact that is significant in Georgi’s musical development. His Father Iordan is a famous musician in the region, being a master of all the traditional wind instruments (kaval, and many different kinds of duduk). However, probably the first tunes Georgi Petrov heard and learned were the songs his mother sang him as a child, from her native Pirin region in Macedonia. With his kind of background, it was only natural that Georgi Petrov should develop an interest in music from a very early age, shown by the fact that his first public performance was at the age of seven in the famous Bulgarian music festival in Koprivshitsa, where he won a gold medal. This set a pattern; Georgi Petrov grew older, he continued to win the top prize in the annual national Folklore Competitions for every age group on his chosen instrument, the gadulka (a bowed stringed instrument native to Bulgaria).
From the age of thirteen to eighteen he studied at the Pleven Musical School, and then spent a further five years specialising in folk instruments at the Bulgarian Academy for Folklore in Plovdiv. During this period Georgi Petrov started to compose his own music, and began recording with Plovdiv radio and the world famous Radio Sofia National Folklore Orchestra. In 1988 he won the Adjudicator’s Special Award in the International Radio Competition in Bratislava, and by his mid-twenties was regarded as one of the foremost gadulka players in the country.
In 1990 he reached the pinnacle of his Bulgarian musical career by being chosen as the Concert Master of the Radio Sofia Orchestra. In the period to August 1996 while he ran the orchestra, Georgi Petrov continued to play with his own group Traki at weddings and in concert halls througout the country. With Traki and the Bisernov Sisters (vocal trio), he performed in all the major European countries, as well as Japan and Canada. He arranged and recorded extensively with the Radio Sofia Orchestra, and also performed with the world renowned Bulgarian womens choir The Bulgarian Voices Angelite. In September 1996 Georgi Petrov joined the orchestra for the hit dance show Riverdance, playing alongside such respected Irish traditional musicians as bodhran maestro Johnny McDonagh and piper Declan Masterson. This led to new musical partnerships, in particular a collaboration with Riverdance harmonica player Brendan Power in some notable Edinburgh performances, some of which were recorded for Scottish television.
In 1997, during a break back home, Georgi Petrov recorded the album, After Sunset. It is a remarkable project not just because of the brillance of the musicianship of erveryone envolved, but also because of the circumstances under which it was recorded – during the height of the recent civil disturbances in Sofia.