The Bulgarian Tour

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The Bulgarian Tour – 25/05/13 – 08/06/2013

Twenty-nine SMVC choristers, wives and partners enjoyed the hospitality of the Bulgarian people. Over two weeks SMVC performed in 5 concerts culminating in a concert at the British Embassy, Sofia. Below are photographs which give a flavour of this unforgettable tour. For the choristers I hope they bring back some memories and a smile to your faces!

For some video clips from TV and radio see web links: and

  • sofia-graduation-dayOn arriving in Sofia the choir thought someone had organised a welcome party – later we found out it was Sofia’s college graduation day! But we did have a ball – as you’ll see in the rest of the photos.
  • bulgaria-dancers
  • sofia-templeSome of the great sights in Sofia, where the choir spent their first and last night.
  • sofia-sight
  • sofia
  • max-brockman-inspirational-talk

    Now down to business – the first concert at Gavrailivo, close to Sliven. Musical Director Max Brockman-More gives an inspirational pep talk.

  • local-choir-ladiesThe concert starts with a local ladies choir who create a great sound, singing some traditional songs.
  • local-dancers

    Then something SMVC had no chance of matching – traditional dancing with the Gavrailivo Dance Troupe. The energy and stamina the dancers showed was amazing and their timing was faultless.

  • dancers-local
  • smcv-on-stage

    SMVC took to the stage – a little more slowly.

  • audience

    To a wonderful welcome.

  • group

    The entertainers pose for a group photo.

  • choir-smvc

    As usual, after a successful concert comes the ‘afterglow’ – but with a Bulgarian slant.


    Choristers will remember this musician – the sound from this bagpipe-like instrument rang in the ears for sometime after the playing had stopped.

  • dancing

    Our hosts gave us an informal dancing lesson which was met with rapturous applause.

  • beer

    Some choristers sit it out and drink some of the local beer – 90p a pint! No wonder they’re happy.

  • bar

    The Musical Director experiments with the language.

  • atmosphere

    Tony, Marge and Paul enjoy the atmosphere.

  • happy-birthday

    There’s no hiding – if it’s your birthday on tour. The whole choir sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to David Pritchard.

  • cat-nap

    It’s only day 2, but for some the feather pillows at the Radisson Hotel were not enough and it was time for a ‘cat-nap’. Be aware – there’s always someone with a camera to capture those embarrassing moments. This picture actually captures the drained energy levels of the choristers after a hectic first few days – you were not alone lads!

  • bus

    You don’t see many of these scarves in Bulgaria. SMVC are on the move to the second location – Sliven.

  • tourist-attractionFirst, a visit to a Sliven tourist attraction and no the attraction is not Paul and James trying to mount a moving chair lift – it’s the Blue Rocks National Park in Sliven. Anxious spectators look on but there was a happy ending – they did make it to sing at the next concert.
  • singing

    Brian sings his way to the top.

  • view

    Other choristers were also heard singing their way to the top of the Blue Rocks.

  • rescue-dogsThe rescue dog was not impressed and luckily he was not needed.
  • great-viewA great view from the top.
  • photo-opportunityAnother photo opportunity.
  • photo-opportunityAnother photo opportunity.
  • going-backAnd then it’s time to go back.
  • view
  • entertainmentA night off and someone else is providing the entertainment.
  • danceDavid Griffiths and his wife Audrey are the first up to dance.
  • john-dancing

    Then John shows his silky moves.

  • francisAnd Francis, our accompanist shows she’s got rhythm too. ‘Feel the Rhythm’.
  • rachelProud Dad, Gordie dances with his daughter and SMVC female soloist, for the tour, Rachel.
  • singing-choirTo the next concert which is at the centre of Sliven. SMVC performed at the invitation of the Mayor and the town dignitaries. SMVC choir rehearse.
  • audienceA packed concert hall watched the performances.
  • choirDobri Chintolouv Choir, directed by Acedemia Metodiy Grigorov, take to the stage and start the concert with some impressive singing of sacred and folk music of a wonderful Balkan style.
  • smvcSMVC in action.
  • For final item, ‘Krai Bosfora’, a popular Bulgarian song, was sung by the choirs combined. The choir received rapturous applause whenever they sang this song and provided some memorable moments. It certainly made the time spent learning the song all worthwhile.
  • choir

    choir-smvcAfterglow party hosted by the Bulgarian Choir saw Max Brockman-More taking the floor.

  • smvc-choirSMVC responded with some traditional after concert singing – appreciated by the hosts.
  • garethGareth Jenkins, co-organiser of the tour has a smile on his face when he is asked for a dance.
  • choir-smvcThe two Maestros of the two choirs exchange gifts to mark the occasion. Terry Morris, the other co-organiser of the tour looks on.
  • The hotel at Sliven.
  • What’s the relevance of this photo? Well two choristers actually climbed to the top of this mountain as a challenge, to get a closer look at the cross. Hope it was covered on their travel insurance!
  • busDeparting for the third venue at Hotel Etar, Veliko Tarnovo.
  • Time for a coffee break on the way to Veliko Tarnovo.
  • One of the signs in Veliko Tarnovo centre immediately makes the Welsh contingent of the choir feel more at home.
  • It doesn’t take some long to settle in and enjoy a meal at a local restaurant.
  • view-balconyA view of the beautiful, former capital city of Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo, from the hotel balcony.
  • It wasn’t long before the third concert at Municipal Concert Hall in the centre of Veliko Tarnovo.
    The rehearsal goes well
  • choirThis concert was unusual for this tour because the majority of the audience were expats –they also showed their appreciation of our singing of ‘Krai Bosfora’.
  • The choir were entertained the following evening with a spectacular light and laser show at the Tsavarets Castle and Fortress music. This was also a chance for the photographers in the choir to test out shutter speeds.
  • cross-view-night
  • The choir leave Hotel Etar, Veliko Tarnovo for Primorsko on the Black Sea coast and a few days on the beach, free of concert singing.
  • hotel-b
  • pool
  • dinnerBreakfast at the new location.
  • Daytime exploits.
  • Night-time.
  • An ‘unforgettable’ ‘fire dance’.
  • The seaside.
  • seaside-view
  • At the hotel some say they drank the bar dry and then the ‘pool’. Only joking, we’re a choir not a rugby team! But the photo does show our unity!
  • ampitheatreFourth concert venue – an amphitheatre – another first for the choir.
  • A local poster advertising our concert.
  • There were some trips to Velingrad and Bansko
  • riverA day on the river.
  • wavingMary and Joyce wave SMVC adventurers off and back. Like a line from the ‘Song of the Jolly Roger’. Members of the choir will know it well!
  • site-seeingSome site-seeing.
  • night-dancingSome night dancing.
  • dance-singOne of our choir, Matt, joins in – proving he can sing and dance.
  • localitySome photos of the locality.
  • wagonHe was heard singing, ‘three wheels on my wagon and I’m still rolling along ………’.
  • train-journeyA train journey.
  • balcongThe trip organisers, Gareth and Terry, chill out on their balcony.
  • pool-view
  • choir-singingThe final concert. SMVC perform at the British Ambassador’s residence as part of ‘British Week’, promoting the UK in Bulgaria.
  • The Welsh stick together at the Embassy.
  • Another great performance from Rachel Spencer-Smith.
  • Our interpreter, Todor, over the fortnight recalls some of his tour highlights with SMVC.
  • Another satisfied audience – mission accomplished in Bulgaria.
  • A picture of the British vice Ambassador with the choir.
  • Now a special song enjoyed by all to end our visit.
  • With a special performance from Terry.
  • flight-homeAnd finally – the flight home.
  • SMVC sing before take-off was welcomed by the air stewardesses on-board.