ZDRAVETS is a Boston-based ensemble which has been performing traditional music from Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia since 1989. This village music is the wild ancestor of the music that modern composers have tamed and adapted for large choral ensembles.
Bulgarian music is characterized by highly resonant, close harmonies and energetic asymmetric rhythms. The vocal styles are free, full, and thrilling, while the instrumental music makes your feet itch to dance. ZDRAVETS brings you the whole gamut – instrumental music, unaccompanied voices, and the full ensemble combining instruments with voices.
ZDRAVETS’s instrumentalists usually play the old-style Bulgarian village instruments – kaval (end-blown flute), gadulka (bowed lute), tambura (mandolin-like instrument), tapan (large double-headed drum), tarabuka (hourglass shaped drum), and gaida (goatskin bagpipe); occasionally they play newer folk instruments (clarinet, violin, saxophone) as well.
ZDRAVETS’s unaccompanied songs are primarily from field recordings, many of which were made by group member Martha Forsyth, who has done extensive folklore research in Bulgaria since 1978. (Some of her original recordings can be heard on Rounder Records #1055, “Two Girls Started to Sing: Bulgarian Village Singing”.)
ZDRAVETS has performed regularly at the New England Folk Festival (NEFFA), the Folk Arts Center of New England’s annual Balkan Music Night and the Zlatne Uste Golden Festival in New York. Since the fall of 1997, ZDRAVETS has been holding a regular monthly dance party and concert from September through June; currently we meet in Newton, Mass. The group has also performed at the National Folklore Festival in Koprivshtitsa, Bulgaria (1991 and 2000) and at the Petrova Niva Festival in Strandzha, Bulgaria (2000), and has been featured on Bulgarian television and radio. Occasional appearances have included wedding receptions, farmers’ markets, international folk dance events, livingrooms, backyard barbecues, barn dances, and you-name-it in the northeastern U.S. The group has released two tapes: “Zdravets” and “From Our Garden”, and a CD: “Late Harvest”.
About the group’s name: zdravets is a wild mountain geranium (Geranium Macrorrhizum) whose aromatic leaves stay fresh and green all winter. Zdravets is beloved by Bulgarians, to whom it symbolizes all that is healthy and longlasting.
The currently active members of ZDRAVETS are Chaya Bromberg, Dean Brown, Dick Forsyth (in spirit), Martha Forsyth, Ralph Iverson, David Skidmore, Dana Sussman, Patrick Yacono, and Janet Yeracaris.