By Umer Nangiana
Drawing influences from major ancient civilisations such as the Thracians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Ostrogoths, Slavs, Varangians and especially Bulgars, Bulgaria boasts a diverse cultural heritage. The Bulgarian nation has one of the richest folk heritages in the world. Bringing a glimpse of this rich cultural diversity, a two-day Bulgarian festival, ‘Discover Bulgaria’ will entertain the local audience early next month.
Besides the traditional Bulgarian delicacies in food, an authentic Bulgarian music group, Pendara Ethno Project, is all set to perform live at the beach front lawn of InterContinental Doha on March 4 and March 5.
Pendara Ethno Project comprising Nina Nikolina, Ekaterina Anguelova, Kalin Veliov on percussion and vocals, and Nedyalko Nedyalkov on kaval (a flute like Bulgarian musical instrument), traditionally attired in the Bulgarian outfit, takes the audience on a journey through multiple cultures and folk music.
Lead vocalist Nina Nikolina is a veteran musician who has successfully produced and recorded albums in an array of musical genres including folklore, pop and Latino.
Nikolina has released nine albums and she has received awards for performance, song, music video, lyrics, album of the year. In 2008, she received the prestigious Performer of the Decade Award for her success with the song Ti (You).
She has presented Bulgarian folkloric music and culture on a number of occasions before at international festivals in Denmark, Finland, Romania, Belgium, Egypt, Italy, Spain, England and Portugal. She has performed at the renowned Astoria Hall in London.
She is accompanied by Kalin Veliov on vocals besides playing a traditional Bulgarian percussion. Veliov discovered his passion about percussion instruments at a very early age. At the age of seven, he started his musical education at the National Children’s Palace in Sofia.
Few years later, the young percussionist joined the popular children’s pop band Pim-Pam, which gave him the opportunity to tour Bulgaria and participate in many TV shows. He is a student of the Palievi family, who are one of the greatest names in the area of drums and percussions in Bulgaria.
Veliov was accepted in the National School of Music Lubomir Pipkov (1988). The same year, the young student became a member of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra Pioner, conducted by maestro Vlady Simeonov with which he toured Italy (1988-1990).
Veliov graduated from the National School of Music in 1992. He was also accepted at the National Conservatory in Sofia, where he studied classical music for another five years.
The last decade of the 20th century has been a time of tremendous opportunities and success for Veliov. As a percussionist and drummer, he performed with the most high-ranked celebrities in Bulgaria including Akaga, Medicus, Dony & Momchil, Ku-Ku Band, Lili Ivanova, Stoyan Zahariev, Kanaleto, Nona band, Jazzbreakers, Latino Partizani and others.
The talented musician participated in many different TV shows, recorded and participated in over 30 albums, and performed on six huge tours in Bulgaria– and all that in the short period of seven years.
The year 1992 marked a huge success for Veliov. The young musician took part in the creation of the fusion formation, Akaga. In no time, Akaga became a leader of of funk and jazz rock.
Moreover, the band was honoured to be the official band for the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), followed by numerous performances at the most prominent and major music events in Bulgaria (1992–1999).
In 1992, Veliov was also asked to join the well-known Bulgarian country-rock band Medicus as its drummer. The years of 1992–94 followed with numerous performances throughout the country. The period of 1994– 97 was marked by a myriad of tours, studio recordings, and TV appearances with the pop duet Dony & Momchil.
Veliov’s work with the duet includes but is not limited to three audio albums and the VCR reproduced Acoustic Concert at the National Theatre Sofia.
Between 1996–98, Veliov joined the Top 40 band Forte at their gigs in Bulgaria as well as throughout Europe (ie Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Greenland). With Akaga, Veliov participated for two consecutive years at the world leading and most prestigious jazz festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival. Consequently, Channel 1 of BNT released a documentary about the band and its performance at the festival.
In 1998, Veliov toured Bulgaria with Kanaleto, Dony & Momchil, and Nona Yotova band. The same year, the Diva of the Bulgarian pop music, Lili Ivanova invited Veliov to be her drummer. With Lili, he had the opportunity to perform at many major events such as representing Bulgaria at Moscow, Russia during the Days of Bulgarian Culture.
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