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“Cat Jazz Symphony” – a unique world premiere with the trademark of Hristo Yotsov

Varna State Opera enters the new year 2021 on January 20, 19.00, “Main Stage”, 19.00, with the world premiere of “Cat Jazz Symphony”, a unique anniversary project of the outstanding Bulgarian jazzman, drummer and composer Hristo Yotsov.

Postponed since November last year due to David, “Cat Jazz Symphony”, now has the privilege to be the first to step on the stage of the new year.

“I’m absolutely dedicated and addicted to both jazz and symphonic music, so for me the most natural thing is to try to connect them.

“Cat Jazz Symphony” – I liked to call the work so that it is clear enough that it is associated with a symphony orchestra. Otherwise, there was a little flirtation with the term “Cat”, which in jazz jargon means exactly a master of the craft, a professional, worthy of respect, a real jazzman. To say of someone, “Oh, yes, he’s a Cat!” Is a great recognition.

That’s where the idea of ​​connecting the two came from, “says Hristo Yotsov.

“Jazz Cats Symphony” – January 20, 2021, 19.00, Main Stage, TMPC Varna

HRISTO YOTSOV for the premiere of his “Jazz Cats Symphony” as a love Crossover between jazz and symphonic music; for cats in life and jazz; for the spectators, who, although one third of the audience, carry the energy of all the spectators; about art as a spiritual poison and the effort to oppose Covid with culture.

– Varna feels privileged that here you choose to present your world premieres – “Jazz Cats Symphony” is coming on January 20, 2021 (after the postponement of the November date due to Covid restrictions), and in 2018 we applauded the world’s first musical on “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by Shakespeare.– It is obviously not a coincidence that my prime ministers became in Varna. You mentioned the symphony and the musical, I will add the Drum Concerto and Symphony Orchestra, a really special and unique work in world music literature, which we also performed for the first time in Varna, with the Varna Philharmonic and my great friend, the conductor Gancho Ganchev.

“Jazz Cats” quartet by Hristo Yotsov (Photos: Studio 5)

– Andrew Lloyd Webber created a musical for cats, you dedicate something even more complex to them – a symphony, and jazz. Tell us more about cats as inspiration.– Yes, I am a fan of cats, my wife says that I have already become a cat. I live with cats, and when a person lives with a cat, in general with an animal, he develops new qualities in his attitude towards others, positive qualities, I mean.

“Cat Jazz Symphony” – I liked to call the work so that it is clear enough that it is associated with a symphony orchestra. Otherwise, there was a little flirtation with the term “Cat”, which in jazz jargon means exactly a master of the craft, a professional, worthy of respect, a real jazzman. To say of someone, “Oh, yes, he’s a Cat!” Is a great recognition.

That’s where the idea of ​​connecting the two came from. In fact, the cat program has been running for five years now, and I’ve released two albums on the subject.

– Do the previous “Cat Projects” enter the symphony?– This is the repertoire of the cats from the previous two albums and from the forthcoming third album. I upgraded this program with a symphony orchestra in the great form of a symphony. Because I also love jazz and symphonic music. I’m absolutely dedicated and addicted to both jazz and symphonic music, so for me the most natural thing is to try to connect them.

Hristo Yotsov (Photo: Plovdiv Jazz Fest)

– And in the art of the global world, genres intertwine…– Of course, good music cannot be closed within a label, a genre. We have crossed borders a long time ago. This is the name of this world trend in art – Crossover, crossing, overflow. Crossover is a matter of aesthetics and taste, not a restriction in any genre framework.

– The premiere will be, of course, with your unchanging quartet.– Yes, yes. The reason this quartet came out was the Spanish saxophonist Arnau Garoffe, an amazing, accomplished jazz musician who graduated in The Hague, the only jazz school in Europe. He made a strong impression on me when he first came to Sofia, where he has been living for six years. On the piano is Lubo Tsanev, who lives in Burgas and remains to add Dimitar Karamfilov – double bass player, friend and colleague in jazz projects. Gancho Ganchev will be on the conductor’s desk, with whom I have long been associated with creative unanimity and a series of successful projects.

“Jazz Cats” quartet by Hristo Yotsov (Photos: Studio 5)

I am glad that I will again have a meeting with the wonderful musicians from the Varna Philharmonic, with whom I have repeatedly shared good moments. Many thanks also to the management of the Varna Theater and Music Production Center and the Varna Opera, which in such difficult times did not give up producing culture and making artists and audiences happy.

– Now that theaters are closing all over the world, in Bulgaria, in compliance with all anti-epidemic measures, live meetings between artists and audiences are still happening, albeit less frequently. Excessive courage or a sensible approach, how do you assess it?– We are probably the only country in the world where cultural events continue to take place, albeit in painful conditions, to some extent with heroism. This speaks to the character and will of the people involved in cultural policy.

Because it’s easiest to give up, do nothing, stay home and be angry with the whole world. It is harder and more constructive not to stop and move forward, doing the best you can in the given conditions. It is high time to notice that Bulgaria is making efforts to preserve its culture and this is an honor for it. I expect our public to turn its back on nihilism, to show respect and to appreciate with dignity the efforts of Bulgarian artists.

– I admire the Varna audience, which, despite Covid, fills the hall to the officially permissible percentages and not only does not give up living art, but empathizes even more emotionally and deeply with his meetings with him. Covid also seems to change our attitudes towards art…– Indeed, only one third of the people can come to the theater, but they bring with them the energy of all spectators and this is what we really need today – the spectators and us, the artists. I don’t know how many victims this bacillus will have, but the mental damage will be permanent and we must not give up, we must oppose them with culture.

“Jazz Cats” quartet by Hristo Yotsov (Photos: Studio 5)

– I remember, during a jazz fest, a foreigner said: “People, you are making history here!” I think the current situation is similar. I am sure that whatever antidote they invent, it cannot be compared to art, it is a spiritual antidote in difficult times of life.– Recently I experienced a similar period and now I am really happy that all my events planned so far on the anniversary project have come true – the concert with the band of BNR some time ago, and now the upcoming premiere of my symphony.

Interview with Violeta TONCHEVA

Conductor Gancho Ganchev: Hristo Yotsov is an exceptional jazzman and one of the best contemporary Bulgarian composers

“Hristo Yotsov and I have been friends since we performed the world’s only Concerto for drums and symphony orchestra at the Varna Summer IMF. I have not stopped admiring him since then. There is nothing that we have not planned and not realized.

A real phenomenon in our musical culture, Hristo Yotsov is an exceptional jazzman, an original combination of drummer and composer. As a composer, he has fine thinking and pure orchestral thinking, his phrase is clearly written, he is precise in every stroke, he puts his best into the music and the orchestra reacts immediately. The orchestra likes such scores and is happy when they can play his works with him.

With “Cat Projects” and “Cat Jazz Symphony” Hristo Yotsov proves that there are no barriers between the symphonic and jazz form, that the classical symphony can sound jazz, with the culmination and everything that jazz musicians expect. He also introduces folk music, makes cartoons, generally uses all the elements to build a multi-layered symphonic sound. The logic of the whole is clear, and there is a possibility for improvisations, brilliantly connected with the orchestral parts.

For me, Hristo Yotsov is one of the best contemporary Bulgarian composers “, the conductor Gancho Ganchev is categorical.

HRISTO YOTSOV was born in 1960 in a family of musicians, Hristo Yotsov graduated from the Sofia Music School (1979) and the National Music Academy “Prof. P. Vladigerov ”in the percussion class of Prof. Dobri Paliev (1985).

Since 1982 he has played with various jazz groups in Bulgaria and Europe. With “Acoustic Version” he won the two most prestigious European jazz awards – 1985 in Belgium and 1986 in Germany. In the period 1982-1989 he was a drummer and arranger of the Big Band of the Bulgarian Radio. Since 1989 he has been leading a percussion class in the Pop and Jazz Department at the Pancho Vladigerov Music Academy, where he is a professor. He has played with Simeon Shterev, Milcho Leviev, Yildiz Ibrahimova, Teodosii Spasov, Tommy Smith, Andy Scofield, Adam Pieronchik, Eric Pro, Steve Hamilton, Tim Garland, Alexia, Reggie Workman, Benny Mopin and Tom Harel.

Since 1995 he has performed mainly in his own projects with the participation of Bulgarian and foreign musicians, for whom he creates original music – “Opium”, “Seven Steps”, “Jazz Ball”, “Funky”, “Go Fusion”, “Next Step”. ”,“ Jazz Cats ”. He has released over 30 albums for Bulgarian and foreign companies.

See the program of Opera Varna for January: