Bulgaria Overview: Love Without Borders
Sofia, Bulgaria, May 1994
Participants from fifteen countries interacted alongside Bulgarian artists
in performance, exchange of ideas, and personal relationship building.
The Festival opened with Edith Wiens, Lynn Maxwell and Timothy Bentch
performing Mozarts Requiem with the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra
and the Obretenov Choir. This was followed by other classical concerts
featuring the Wellspring Ensemble performing works by Beethoven, Telemann,
Albinoni, Monteverdi, and Brahms. Click
here for testimonials of the impact of the festival.
First Canadian Work Performed in Bulgaria
The conclusion of the classical festival highlighted the Mennonite Piano
Concerto, the first Canadian work to be performed in Bulgaria. Canadian
maestro Howard Dyck and pianist Irmgard Baerg performed with the Pajardjik
An exchange was held at the Bulgarian Film Makers Club between American
and Bulgarian film makers. Organized in conjunction with the Union of
Bulgarian Film Makers, it stimulated discussion on technique, ideas, and
future joint projects.
European Premiere Gettyburg
The pre-Cannes screening of Gettysburg along with the attendance of the
films producer and director, Ron Maxwell, was one highlight of the
Geoffrey Stevensons performances of Dostoevskys The Idiot
ran at Sofias National Theatre. Dreams of Power and Passion, involving
Shakespearean characters and text, performed by Paul Alexander, was also
Folk Music & Dance
Participants from Africa, Polynesia, India, and the Andes performed alongside
Bulgarian folk performers showcasing an evening of international cultural
expression in dance and music.
The Festival honored a number of Bulgarians with a special Humanitarian
Award, in recognition of their dedication to the cause of orphaned and
special needs children. Invited guests included government officials,
orphanage directors, and care givers.
Art Exposes Prejudice
Excerpts from Beautiful ... or What?!, the story of a young girl with
physical and learning disabilities, helped the audience to see the unique
value and dignity of every human being. This new musical was written and
performed by British composer Adrian Snell.
IFA conducted a comprehensive survey to determine felt needs in conjunction
with Government Ministries and the Bulgarian Agency for International
Hospitals were closed due to a lack of essential medicine and surgical
supplies. Orphanages had little food or heat. Partnering with Feed the
Children and Balkan Air, IFA arranged for urgently needed supplies to
flown to Bulgaria and delivered across the country.
The lives of four Bulgarian children were saved through the purchase of
special drainage valves needed to prevent paralysis and death.
Exchange with Orphans
Participants visited orphanages and performed for the children, in a practical
expression of love. Artwork was also exchanged between a U.S. school and
a Sofia orphanage.
Training programs brought focus and advocacy to children in need. Lectures,
workshops, and round table discussions focused on assessment, the visually
impaired, physical and sexual abuse, and the development of life skills
for young offenders.
School programs used music and drama to deal with issues that included
drugs, gang warfare, suicide, human sexuality, and AIDS. Band members
also went into classrooms to talk more intimately with the students and
Theatre Troupe Trained
Say No Max, a highly successful play dealing with the issue of addictive
behavior, was performed by a Bulgarian theatre troupe, trained by U.S.
playwright Gillette Elvgren during the Festival.
A program of performances, master classes, and workshops was arranged
for the Sofia Music Conservatory and the Academy of Theatre Arts and Film.
A week of shared expertise, joint performances, and relationship building
brought Festival participants together with the faculty and students.
The effects of environmental pollution on economic production and health
care were addressed. A delegation of international scientists interacted
with environmental ministries, local government, activists, educators,
Bulgarian Academy of Science.
Bulgarian Sponsors included: National Palace of Culture, Ivan Vazov National
Theatre, State Musical Academy, National Theatre & Film Academy, Association
of Bulgarian Filmmakers, and Radio Tangra.
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