Monday, April 3, 2017

Vivo Montana (Bulgaria)

Vivo Montana
Several years ago I was introduced to the musical genre Chalga.  Chalga is a type of popular folk or dance music prominent in Bulgaria and other Eastern European countries.  The music is unique mix of Western electronic dance music, folk music, and other influences.  I was in research class for my Master's program when we listened to several Bulgarian folk and popular musical selections.  One of the artists we listened to is Azis.  Azis is a gender fluid Chalga artist.  His music and music videos were a little shocking to me at first, but I quickly became accustomed to the fusion of musical styles and the gender fluidity of his video persona.  Here is a glimpse of Azis.  
Vivo Montana is a brass band made up of young men that play popular music of Bulgaria on Brass Instruments.  The clip at the top of this post has a similar style to Azis' music, but the acoustic brass elements are less processed and sound less clean musically.  However, the energy is still there.  The men play trumpets, baritones, trombones, tuba (sousaphone) and percussion.  Vivo Montana, hail from the city of Montana, Bulgaria in the Northwest section of the country.  These young men attended a math and science high school together and organized their band with the help of their music teacher.  The band has appeared on Bulgaria's Got Talent and other television shows.  The group has their own web page with dozens of performances in video and Soundcloud audio.

I find their performances to be enjoyable and full of energy.  I would not say they are polished in a professional sense, but that is where the charm begins.  The performances are edgy and at times dangerous.  My embouchure is screaming at me watching all of the choreography and movement.  You can see the joy on their faces.  The music is just a portion of the entertainment package, just as Asiz uses video and imagery to enhance the music.  No, I do not expect you like the music, nor the performers, but I encourage you to step out of the box and just experience this style of performance.  I feel their work is important historically.  In 1991 when the iron curtain fell, Western influence, poured in.  This music is a product of that cultural revolution in Eastern Europe.  There is validity and a humanness to this product that I find intriguing artistically.  My life in the United States has been rather tame artistically.  Imagine if we lifted all kinds of societal restrictions and cultural assimilation tactics from the States.  What could we accomplish artistically or musically?  Look at Bulgaria!  Vivo Montana and Asiz are obviously celebrating their freedom to pursue music in a personal way.  Now I wait for America's Got Talent to have all manner of ensembles hit the stage......

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