Colin Harbinson


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 Mozart’s 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
Symphony Orchestra.

Film Exchange
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 film’s producer and director, Ron Maxwell, was one highlight of the exchange.

Geoffrey Stevenson’s performances of Dostoevsky‘s The Idiot ran at Sofia’s National Theatre. Dreams of Power and Passion, involving Shakespearean characters and text, performed by Paul Alexander, was also well received.

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.

Humanitarian Awards
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.

Comprehensive Survey
IFA conducted a comprehensive survey to determine felt needs in conjunction with Government Ministries and the Bulgarian Agency for International Assistance.

Urgent Care
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 be
flown to Bulgaria and delivered across the country.

Lives Saved
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.

Staff Training
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.

Youth Issues
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 staff.

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.

Master Classes
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.

Scientific Exchange
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, and the
Bulgarian Academy of Science.

Bulgarian Sponsors
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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