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Sample Track 1:
"Momche" from Vlada Tomova: Balkan Tales
Sample Track 2:
"Leili" from Vlada Tomova: Balkan Tales
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More About Vlada Tomova, Theodosii Spassov & Chris Rael

Heartbeat of Bulgaria:
Theodosii Spassov and Balkan Tales

The joyous folk traditions of Bulgaria come alive in this exciting program featuring Bulgarian kaval (shepherd’s flute) virtuoso Theodosii Spassov, one of Eastern Europe’s top musicians and a national icon and musical hero in Bulgaria; Vlada Tomova, founder of the New York Bulgarian women’s choir Yasna Voices, who blends Balkan and world sounds with her ensemble Balkan Tales, often in thrilling odd-metered time; and sitarist Chris Rael, whose elegant sounds recall the Bulgarian culture shaped by ancient Eastern migrations.

Theodosii Spassov (kaval, voice) 
Vlada Tomova (voice)
Chris Rael (sitar, Portuguese guitar, 12-string guitar)
Kyle Sanna (acoustic guitar) 
Mike Savino (bass)
Mathias Kunzli (percussion)

About the Music and Project Summary:

Bulgarian-born New York-based vocalist Vlada Tomova has invited Bulgarian kaval virtuoso Theodosii Spassov and American innovative sitarist Chris Rael to collaborate with her ensemble Balkan Tales for concert appearances in the USA in October - November 2011. 

The hour and a half concert program will consist largely of Bulgarian traditional songs, arranged by Tomova, Spassov and Rael; original compositions in the traditional idiom; and will explore the juxtaposition of Indian and Bulgarian folk songs alongside each other. The exploration of Bulgarian folk songs with sitar is unprecedented. From a cultural perspective, this will be an unparalleled opportunity to tap into the ancient influences that shaped Bulgarian music through early migrations from Persia and the Indian subcontinent. 

The collaboration of Rael, Spassov, and Tomova’s Balkan Tales is a unique cultural exchange where Indian sitar, Bulgarian folk songs, and musicians from New York and Sofia will meet for the first time to create new music.

Resumes of Key Performers:

Theodosii Spassov – kaval, voice. Theodosii Spassov began his early training on the kaval at the Kotel Music School and The Academy of Music and Dance in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The kaval, an eight-hole wooden “shepherd” flute, is one of the oldest instruments in Europe, rich in tone and technical possibilities.  Theodosii Spassov has developed his own unique style of playing the instrument by synthesizing traditional folklore with jazz, fusion and classical music.

For over 20 years, Theodosii has toured all over Europe, Asia, the Middle East, AustraliaCanada, and the United States.  In 1994, he performed with Sofia Women’s Radio Choir, which was awarded with a Grammy award for “Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares”.  In April 1995, “Newsweek” magazine recognized Theodosii Spassov as one of the most talented Eastern-European musicians in its “best of the East” article, noting that “Spassov… is not merely surviving the post-communist cultural wasteland. He has actually invented a new musical genre.”

Theodosii Spassov has contributed to 20 CDs, four of his own, which have been noted worldwide.  He has composed and performed numerous film scores including the French-Bulgarian feature film Granitza (The Border), 1993.  He has also recorded themes for films by Italian composers Carlos Siliotto and Ennio Morricone, An Italian Story and The Breakout of the Innocent. At the fourth European Jazz Night, Theodosii Spassov was a featured performer along with other jazz musicians, including Winton Marsalis.

At home, in Bulgaria, Theodosii Spassov is a national figure and musical hero.  He was most recently awarded The Golden Age Medal, the highest recognition of Bulgaria's Ministry of Culture, and has been honored twice with the Music Artist of the Year award (1997, 2002). Spassov is the Artistic Director of the world-renown Philip Koutev Ensemble Of Music, Drama and Dance.  He is a soloist of Bulgarian National Radio.

Theodosii Spassov was a member of the Irish music and dance company Riverdance, 1998-2001.  He is the recipient of The International Academy of Arts in Paris Award (1996), among other international awards. 

Vlada  Tomova – voice. Bulgarian vocalist and composer Vlada Tomova blends Balkan and world sensibilities to create her own personal sound.  Based in New York City, Vlada leads the world music ensemble Balkan Tales, featuring top international musicians.  She founded and led Yasna Voices, New York’s first Bulgarian Women’s Choir.  Her work with the group Balkan Beat Box continues to receive international acclaim.  Her voice is featured on National Geographic's touring exhibit King Tut, and was heard in the sound installation Echoes from the Mountains at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy.  Vlada is a guest vocalist in demand in the world music and theatre communities.

Vlada’s recent appearances include Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival (New York), Carnegie’s Zankel Hall and Weil Recital Hall (New York), the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Chicago World Music Festival, Toronto's Small World Festival, New York Summer Stage, the European Union-sponsored European Dream Festival (New York), and the Second Annual New York Gypsy Festival, among others.   

Vlada teaches Bulgarian traditional singing and World Music Appreciation.  She has presented workshops at Columbia University, Yale University, and Berklee College of Music, among others, and collaborated on Carnegie Hall’s Musical Explorers educational concert series.

Chris Rael – sitar, Portuguese guitar, 12-string guitar. Chris Rael's acrobatic vocal style was influenced by years of classical music study in Varanasi, India.  The sitarist/guitarist is leader of New York Indo-pop band Church of Betty, founder of indie label Fang Records, and producer of dozens of CDs and hundreds of live events in downtown New York.  Composer of 300 songs and 25 CDs since 1989, he is currently developing the chamber musical Araby (inspired by James Joyce's Dubliners), composing feature songs and soundtracks for film (Outstanding Score Award at Outfest Film Festival, Los Angeles 2005), and developing The Lazarus Rose, a  Sephardic music project with Bulgarian chanteuse Vlada Tomova.   

Chris Rael’s Church of Betty was part of the first wave of progressive acts through the original Knitting Factory, and later became a regular favorite at Greenwich Village's legendary Bottom Line.  Rael has performed at Town Hall, Lincoln Center & Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, Sydney Opera House, the Secession Building in Vienna, the National Mall in Washington DC, the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Berlin, London, Dublin, Glasgow, Mexico City, Varanasi, Eastern Canada and across America, with numerous appearances on National Public Radio.  He has collaborated with many dozens of artists, including Penny Arcade, Oasis, Annabella Lwin (Bow Wow Wow), David Byrne, Stew (Passing Strange), Najma, Johnny Society, Elliott Sharp, Curt Smith (Tears for Fears), Jayne County, Samir Chatterjee, Amar Nath Mishra, Steve Gorn, John Kelly, Rebecca Moore, Frank London (Klezmatics), Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), White Magic, West Indian Girl, Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth), Charles Henri Ford, Marty Matz, and Ira Cohen.