Dolno Ablanovo, Bulgaria
The village of Dolno Ablanovo arose in the 18th century with the settlement of some 300 travelers from the Balkan Mountains, who engaged their intrinsic folklore with the soft and nurturing playfulness of the warmer lands, evoking in the process a unique fusion of traditions and customs.
Since the 1980s, the group has been dedicated to their people’s folklore. Features quintessential to both folklore regions are apparent in the style of singing, the topics and lyrics of the songs, the occasions they adorn. Lighthearted and as their mountainous roots, their sound also reflects the warm hearted nature of the fertile lands they now inhabit. Their traditional dress tells the same story – their handkerchiefs are brown or green, vests heavy and dark in color, but their handmade shirts and aprons are white and red, a typical feature of the northern parts of Bulgaria.
Sama Kitka: Dolno Ablanovo’s folklore source
After a short hiatus, the group reemerged in 2004 under the new name of Sama Kitka. The name can be translated as a flower hand-bouquet or ‘nosegay’ symbolising the bond between beloved couple. Sama Kitka’s accordion accompaniment enriches their sound while preserving its authentic form. The group’s current mission is to keep their tradition alive, but to delight their audience and bring joy through their performance.
Alen Mak: urban folklore
In 2008 the group began to perform 19th-century Bulgarian songs – old city songs, within a genre close to the classical European style of that era. Under the name Alen Mak, the group incorporates skill, passion and virtue in equal measure to Sama Kitka. Yet, the songs of Alen Mak are gently paced, with intense, saturated tones: an altogether different sound.
Their performances in both styles receive appreciation and recognition at festivals and live shows. The group takes part in and have received prizes at, amongst many, the National Folklore Fair Rozhen, Art Fests, the World Folklore Championship Nessebar, and Euro Folk 2016. They have performed numerous times live on national television and have received the acclaim of multiple international folklore and traditional arts organizations.
The group holds in its repertoire more than 100 songs, many of them their own, or performed exclusively by them. A great many traditions and rituals have remained alive only through oral tradition; recording projects such as these are critical to their preservation – and survival.
Featured in Sama Kitka and Alen Mak are vocal artists Bozhanka Uzunova, Nikolina Ivanova, Dilyana Stefanova, Penka Ivanova, Velika Demireva, Rumyana Baleva and accordionist Georgi Rachev Ivanov.