Theodossii Spassov 370.
(photo credit: Juliana Voloz Rudolstat)
‘The kaval [Bulgarian shepherd’s pipe] is one of the first European wooden
instruments. Its sound is most natural and similar to the human voice. That is
what probably draws people around the world to my music,” says internationally
renowned kaval player Theodosii Spassov modestly in an interview from his home
Spassov, who has already performed in Israel, returns to appear
in The Balkan Pearl concerts, together with Sinfonietta Beersheva, on January 28
and 30 under conductor Ziv Kojokaro.
He adds, “It is probably the
combination of this most simple instrument with a symphony orchestra or a jazz
ensemble that sparks people’s curiosity.”
Spassov’s way to music was as
natural as the sound of his instrument.
Born in a village in Bulgaria, he
went to a music school for traditional Bulgarian instruments, organized by his
father. “The choice of instruments was a bagpipe, an accordion, a folk violin
and a kaval – a wooden flute – and I went for the latter. As a romantic
eight-year-old boy, I was totally captivated by the image of a shepherd tending
his herds in the plains and mountains – you know, serenity and freedom,” says
the 50- year-old. After winning a local competition, he entered the Music School
in Kotel and graduated from the Academy of Music and Dance in Plovdiv. “I’ve
been playing kaval for more than 40 years,” he says.
Over the years, he
has developed his unique style. He admits that music occupies most of his life,
and “when I get tired of something, I develop new directions. My approach to
music making is not commercial, this all is about my musical interests, about my
personal freedom as an artist. I work on various projects – it could be
cooperation with classical orchestras, with jazz musicians, as well as solo
performances,” he says.
Spassov has developed his unique style of playing
on this eight-hole wooden flute, which is rich in tone and technical
possibilities. He has toured all over Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Australia,
Canada and the US. In 1994 he performed with Sofia Women’s Radio Choir, which
was awarded a Grammy for “Le Mystere des Voix Bulgares.”
In April of
magazine named him 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
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 1993 French-Bulgarian feature film Granitza
(The Border). He also
recorded themes for films by Italian composers Carlos Siliotto and Ennio
Morricone in An Italian Story
and The Breakout of the Innocent.
At the fourth
European Jazz Night, Spassov was a featured performer along with other jazz
musicians such as Winton Marsalis.
At home in Bulgaria, Spassov is a
national figure and musical hero and was honored with the Music Artist of the
Spassov, who recently performed in Israel as a guest of the
Netanya Kibbutz Chamber Orchestra, has nothing but praise for Israeli musicians:
“They are the crème de la crème of music making. And I feel great in your
country, not only because it has a huge Bulgarian community but also because
Bulgarians and Israelis share the same sense of humor – that is why they
understand my music so well!” Theodosii Spassov performs with Sinfonietta
Beersheva on January 28 and 30 at the Center for the Performing Arts (41 Rager
Blvd., Beersheba). For reservations: (08) 626-6422.