Last Sunday I had the privilege of attending a session with Stela Petrova, bassist at the Ensemble “Trakia”. Later, on that unforgettable day, I watched Ensemble “Trakia” on their 40th anniversary concert, at the Ancient roman Theatre, in the historical city of Plovdiv. I carefully chose my place at the first row to watch Stela playing up close. The ensemble is composed by dancers, a choir and an orchestra, where Stela plays the double bass, the only non-traditional instrument in the group. Stela’s role is exclusively to provide orchestral support and probably the only element which will never take a solo spot in any presentation, yet Stela provides the bottom end during the whole performance which totally drives the whole show, essential for the rhythm section, and consequently setting the pace for the extraordinary dancers to perform intricate choreographies, defining harmony for the choir and orchestra, and allowing soloists to shine.
Hopefully, the footage I have gathered will show, despite of the audio quality of my recording, the often disregarded role of the double-bass in a Bulgarian folk ensemble, which is in reality vital. Stela also told me that many of the songs, by the great composer Stefan Mutafchiev, do not have bass scores originally, so Stela actually composed many basslines, for Stefan Mutafchiev gave the freedom for the bass player to develop them. Stela also has shown me different versions of songs, where she was playing different basslines of the same song, such as “Oi, Shope, Shope” which closes the first part of the footage.
The second part ends with the great finale, where many of the 4ooo attendants join the ensemble to dance onstage, bringing the celebration to a spectacular apotheosis.
Although I opted to film mostly Stela and his orchestra mates, the show is much more a dance and vocal show for the majority of the audience, so I add below and excerpt from the show, as broadcasted live by the Bulgarian National Television and I encourage you to look for more audience recordings of this and other shows of Ensemble “Trakia” to complement your perspective of the beautiful show of colour and movement provided by one of the most relevant artistic institutions of Bulgaria.