Singer Gergana Dimitrova: Meeting Lisa Gerrard was a dream come true
The Mystery of The Bulgarian Voices is a phenomenon - the choir's sound, singing technique, presence and impact on the audience are unmatchedIvanichka Kyuchukova , Sofia
The most powerful moment for me was when Lisa Gerrard asked for the two of us to improvise while using just an electronic pad. We got some incredible vocal overlays and states. I felt grateful, singer Gergana Dimitrova says in an interview to Europost.
Ms Dimitrova, you are on a big tour with The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices, joined by Lisa Gerrard. Do you see any difference in the audience's reception?
We are currently touring Germany. We have four concerts together with Lisa Gerrard. These events are the natural extension to the release of the choir's new album BooCheeMish, produced for Schubert Music Publishing by Boyana Bounkova. This project is her brainchild. Our concerts have always elicited a passionate, exhilarated and emotional response from the audience. It is no different this time - a true elation by what is happening on the stage.
The women's choir had not recorded a studio album for 20 years prior to this one. What took you back to the studio and what was the feeling like?
Over the past 20 years the choir never stopped working. We took part in all sorts of productions. But yes, a brand new set of tracks did not come until Schubert Music Publishing's proposal for what is now our latest project. The music was composed by Petar Dundakov, who also produced it. Creating something new is always exciting. We put in a lot of work together with the women of the choir and its conductor Prof. Dora Hristova.
What was it like working with Lisa Gerrard, who is a Golden Globe-winner for best original score and a world-class professional?
To me, meeting Lisa Gerrard was a dream come true. I have been listening to her and been inspired by her music with the band Dead Can Dance long before this project ever came about. After we were introduced to each other, we learnt that she was in turn inspired by The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices. It is as if some intuitive connection running through time has brought us all together on BooCheeMish.
What was your personal interaction with Lisa Gerrard, and what will you remember about her the most?
We started communicating in the recording studio where Petar Dundakov introduced us. She knew my voice because we had sent her ideas for collaborations involving Bulgarian folk motifs and her music. She was ecstatic and inspired for what we were about to embark on. The most powerful moment for me was when she asked for the two of us to improvise while using just an electronic pad. We got some incredible vocal overlays and states. I felt grateful!
Has she given you any advice? Has she asked you for one?
I cannot say that she has offered verbal guidance per se. Our way of communication has been intuitive. It is more that I learn from the way she carries herself in certain moments and, of course, I try to emulate the freedom that she constantly exudes - the freedom to be yourself, to express yourself through your music and voice. She has not asked my advice. She encourages a creative relationship in which we sense and complete each other; it is a mutually empowering thing on stage.
How do you explain the long and undying interest towards The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices choir around the world?
The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices is a phenomenon in Bulgarian music history. Its sound, singing technique, presence and impact is unmatched. The richness of our folklore cannot be overstated. We have deep cultural roots, leaving a trace in every one of us and the souls of the people who listen to our performances. We are the ambassadors of this treasure. We are constantly seeking new ways of interpreting the folk melodies. The BooCheeMish album is a step in that direction. But tradition remains at the heart of it all.
When and how did you join the choir?
There was a competition in the year that I graduated from the music high school in Pleven. It was meant to be, just how things fell into place… I entered the competition and was accepted to the choir. I think it was the most incredible start to my career that I could have wished for. I was only 19 and just two months after that we travelled to the US. I flew, literally and figuratively. It was my first time on a plane and the world stage. I was filled with so much love, inspiration and gratitude for what was happening to me.
What is the concert you will never forget and why?
It is really difficult to choose one. Certainly, my first concert with the choir in San Francisco in 1994 has to be up there. I had never seen such audience - cheering loudly and stomping their feet in approval. We have been to some of the most magnificent halls - among them the Royal Festival Hall in London and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington.
Your husband is also in the music business. Is music what brought you together, and is this shared interest the recipe for a successful marriage for someone like you, who is always on the road?
Yes, my husband Kostadin Genchev is a musician with a capital 'M' in that title. He is a master of the shepherd's flute and a tremendous composer. We met thanks to my work in The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices. Music is what brought us together, as back then he invited me to be a soloist in his compositions. This is how it started. He is involved with various projects and travels a lot too. He knows I want to fly and always gives me wings. I am lucky to have a man like him next to me.
Are your children interested in music as well?
Our children are musically gifted. Our elder son Dimitar is 13, he plays the guitar and attends the music school in Sofia. The younger one, Boris, is six and is just starting. He has a wonderful voice and we sometimes sing duets for fun.
You were also featured on one of the most popular tracks of the year - Sunbeams, which was a hit even at Ibiza. How did you happen to join an electronic music project?
This is one of the directions I have been working towards as of late. The project was envisioned by Krasimira Damyanova, who produced and directed the video. She contacted DJ Fabrizio Parisi for me and we went to work. This is one of the ways to reach the young generation.
Gergana Dimitrova was born on 27 February 1975 in Pleven, Bulgaria. After graduating from the “Panayot Pipkov” National School of Arts in her hometown in 1994, she was immediately admitted to The Mystery of the Bulgarian Voices women's choir. She is among the five soloists in the choir's latest project, the album BooCheeMish, a collaboration with Lisa Gerrard that has delighted music fans across the world. In 1996, together with Milen Ivanov, Dimitrova started the Eva quartet. Working with composer Petar Dundakov, she helped create the music for the theatre productions Eurydice and Phantom Pain, as well as the feature film The Postman.