We weren’t quite sure what to expect, as we took our seats in the small, yet inviting, church of St Phillips in Earl’s Court. Yet after an expectant hush had settled, the stage was set for our performers.
In filed the singers: all dressed elegantly in black, with the girls done up with red ribbons to represent the colours of the Bulgarian flag. They were introduced to us as the vocal ensemble ‘Peregrina Enchantica’, aptly led by the traditional Bulgarian Singer, Zory Burner. The name comes from the Peregrine, their young travelling thousands of miles to raise a family in a territory of their own, just as Peregrina’s music attempts its own journey through time and space. What’s striking about her compositions is that they lend new excitement to the authentic, pre-Renaissance chants. Her compositional focus is about sharing Bulgarian music history and culture with the wider tapestry of London.
Burner is a singer/songwriter from Bulgaria, originally from Veliko Tarnova. She believes music is about being unique and expressive. In 2008, she moved to London, having spent 10 years studying music theory in her homeland, where she was part of a Bulgarian orthodox choir for seven years. This gave her the grounding to go on with her extraordinary voice and create her own, individual music.
The melodious sound of the gospel singers was intertwined with the haunting beat of a drum in the background, to great effect. This fusion of genres is typical of Burner’s style, along with her ability to create a haunting feel to her music.
Her influence she states as the great pre-renaissance Byzantine music combined with Bulgarian folklore, thus fusing an exotic element with local culture.
This can be seen in her use of the 7 quavers in a bar melody, something common in traditional Bulgarian music. The effect was one of escape: her choral background combined with the heady rhythm of the drums made for a vivid performance.
One of the most distinctive features of Balkan folk music is the complexity of its rhythms in relation to Western music along with its unique harmony and vocal production. Burner has put her voice to good use, too. Indeed, Peregrina’s first single, ‘Sub Dio’ (2015) was released in support of the UK National Bird Vote Campaign.
Particularly enjoyable was ‘Look Up’, a harmonious song that encourages us city-dwellers to appreciate our natural surroundings, wherever we are. Her inspiring work for the natural environment was complimented by lectures from attending speakers such as Mark Avery on the importance of saving wildlife – in particular the Hen Harrier, nearly extinct in England. She worked closely with David Lindo to help get people involved with the National Bird Vote, in 2015.
All in all, an enlightening evening. Zory will be performing in upcoming concerts in the area throughout the following year – I recommend that Bulgarian aficionados and music enthusiasts alike go listen for themselves.
More information about Peregrina Enchantica is available by clicking on the image below.