UNESCO’s proclaiming the year of 2000 as the International Year of Culture and Peace inspired Krassi Jeliazkov & AQUA STORM Music and Performing Arts Agency to be the initiators of the idea of creation of a Balkan Cultural Project in the field of Ethno and World Music. Nine of the most distinguished Ethno, Rock, Jazz, Ambience and New Age composers and performers participated in the Balkan Horses Band International orchestra.
In the course of 7 days from November 4 to November 9, 2000 in Sofia City, Bulgaria, people of various nationalities and ethnical groups did creative work in the same conditions, sharing their thoughts, emotions and ideas. For the purpose Hall 9 of the National Palace of Culture was hired which provided a creative comfort and the necessary technical equipment for every musician, composing and arranging live by his/her instruments, to be able to create a uniform music product. Already at the first rehearsal, not knowing each other by that time, all musicians played so powerfully and synchronically, leaving the impression that they worked and rehearsed together for years. Showing mutual respect, friendship and talent, they worked just and only for the success of the band. The two-hour concert, performed in the most prestigious Bulgarian Hall, i.e. Hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture, was a constant gallop of ideas, emotions and sounds where styles ran at an overwhelming speed. The Internet fans, through a special web site had the pleasure to observe the show live together with the audience of Hall 1. The Bulgarian National TV broadcast a film, a portrayal of the development of this unique Workshop, and a 100-minute presentation of the concert itself.
BALKAN HORSES BAND – PROJECT I:
TAMARA OBROVAC / CROATIA – vocal & wooden flute
THEODOSII SPASSOV / BULGARIA – kaval, vocalize & melodica
VLATKO STEFANOVSKI / MACEDONIA – el. guitar & vocal
ALEXANDER SANJA ILIC / SERBIA – grand piano
KOSTAS THEODOROU / GREECE – double bass
EMIL BUCUR / ROMANIA – nai (panflute)
STOYAN YANKOULOV / BULGARIA – drums & tupan
HAKAN BESER / TURKEY – percussions
KRASSI JELIAZKOV / BULGARIA – Bulgarian tamboura, ac. guitar
The phenomenal success of the project and the huge interest of the audience contributed to Aqua Storm’s deciding to organise a Balkan Tour 2001, involving countries like Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece. With the help of modern audio-visual equipment, in the course of ten days from June 18 to June 27 the Balkan Horses Band, by their two-hour magnetic show were missionaries of the new century, preaching the unity of the European spirit. It was not by chance that Belgrade, the town of human hope for harmony and unity, was chosen to be the starting point of the tour. In SAVA CENTAR a 4000 audience, seated, witnessed the expression of Balkan cultural integration. The seven flags, united by the talent of the nine musicians, made people feel the power of love and friendship. In Sofia City, at the square in front of Ivan Vazov National Theatre 8000 persons powerfully applauded the Band’s expressions, making the show unforgettable. Balkan Horses Band opened the program of Varna Summer – 2001 International Music Festival. For days the Balkan Horses were filling the hearts of thousands of spectators with music rhythm, world motives, ethnic sounding, improvisation and spontaneity.
The music project, based on the Balkan folklore, with its common origin and vitality is no doubt the shortest path to the human soul and an impetus for the Cultural Integration on the Balkans. The project’s implementation would not have been possible without the moral, social and financial support of the UNDP in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Turkey; the Open Society Foundation, the Pro Helvetia Foundation and the French Cultural Institute.
Krassi Jeliazkov wishes to thank all its partners and friends who with their love and support promoted the implementation of this idea. It thanks the Balkan Horses Band’s artists who made a wonderful experience of this music invent. Their music stirred our positive emotions and drive to preserve our roots and the Balkan culture specificity and to look back to the land from where we have taken our beginning, on which we live and create. We believe that the beauty and vitality of the Balkan music will be a real provocation which will stir the curiosity of music fans all over the world.
Video – BALKAN HORSES I:
Press release – BALKAN HORSES I:
The music of “Balkan Horses” managed to resurrect the Balkan spirit, which is snoozing somewhere deep, prompting us that we are people whose background is in these lands.
/ The Dnes (Today) 18 of June 2001 /
The international ensemble Balkan Horses successfully commenced their tour on the Balkans with a concert in the crowded open-air theater in the “Tvardjava” fortress, Nish. Nine superior creators, composers and instrumentalists from seven Balkan countries offered a magnificent interpretation of this region’s traditional music, which stems from a common root and rests of a rich variety of Balkan traditions. The word is about a group of outstanding professionals, original authors and virtuosos, which were awarded a ten-minute ovation by the audience in Nish.
/ The Dnevnik (Diary) 30 of June 2001 /
Scopije could not have hoped for a better event last night, when the Balkan Horses group performed in the MNT theater… The rich Balkan folklore with its unrepeatable, unique rhythm, the fantastic arrangement of the whole band, the virtuoso lace of the nine instrumentalists with improvisations which are affordable only by the greatest musicians, turned out to be an example of seven-eight’s jazz, rock, ambiance … Unplugged. We heard a unique music whose new heralds became “Balkan Horses” … The crowded hall of MNT was ignited by two hours of unadulterated performance in twelve compositions created by these masters. Skopije will remember the concert of Balkan Horses for a long time ahead.
/ The Vest (News) / 20 of June 2001 /
The MNT hall in Skopije became the epicenter of a rich musical experience with a new art, filled up with positive energy, desperately needed by the times we are living in.
/ The Morning Magazine / 20 of June 2001 /
The whole concert of this super ensemble of traditional Balkan music masters was targeted to an arrangement of a master theme, which successfully demonstrated an endeavour to uncover the real links to the roots of the Balkan melody rhythms, thus bridging over all discords by means of the language of music – mankind’s common language.
/ Magazine Ekran (Screen) / 21 of June 2001 /
It happened at last. The Balkans together – without quarrels and boundaries, without the historical logorrhea and political mutism. The name of this miracle is Balkan Horses.
/ The Ethno Reporter Magazine / number 5, 2000 /
Balkan Horses made a grand show. The musicians demonstrated how a Balkan orchestra should sound in synchrony, they unveiled the most essential values our music, excited the aural perception and the hearts of the spectators with unique melodies and rhythms. The most trivial, but the most correct definition is: it was a real celebration.
/ The Duma (Word) 21 of November 2000 /
Balkan Horses are coming just in time to demonstrate that Goran Bregovich is not the only inhabitant of this peninsula, who has something to tell the world. The two-hour concert was a real gallop of ideas, stylus eclectics, emotions and sounds. The show had both the sense of a first-hand experience and the brilliant professionalism of the studio record.
/ The SEGA (Now) / November 2000 /
Life seems to have shown that Balkan politics has to be governed by the musicians of Balkan Horses. Because they get together quick, they speak little and they make up an orchestra that forces the world’s admiration.
/ The POGLED (Look) / November 2000 /
Sofia was burst by the applause of the audience, which would not let the musicians go. It all became a musical magic. Maybe because each one of those who experienced the miracle recognized something of his own personality, some of his dreams, some of the other worlds each of us longs for.
/ The Musica Viva Magazine / 18 of December 2000 /
It is a rare experience of mine to become so much carried away by some music as to forget entirely where and when I am. The concert of Balkan Horses trespassed the boundaries of time, space, ethnic and language differences, historical encumbrance and whatever else one can think of.
/ The New Rhythm Magazine / December 2000 /
Nine Balkan musicians made an event of their concert in Varna. The Balkan Horses project launched a new style of 21st century music. Two thousand spectators in the open air theater were thrown in ecstasy. They applauded and whistled with pleasure. Neighing and snorting effects poured from the kaval and the guitar and pierced the fantastic compositions … The Balkan Horses show is part of “Varna Summer” giving this festival a powerful start.
/ The 24 Hours / June 2001 /
This is more than just music – these are the souls of seven nations who have merged their voices into one. An unexpected charm and a purging onset. In the improvisations which follow one after the other, we hear sub-celestial and super-celestial voices, moans, sighs as if shed off by the spirits of men and women who lived long ago. They contain everything: joy, dreams, tears and hopes. All those things that come from real life.
/ The Art Forum / August 2001 /