Vassil Bebelekov

Gaida: Bulgarian Goatskin Bagpipe

Vassil is one of the world's great Bulgaria gaida (bagpipe) players. He was born in the Rhodolpe Mountain town of Devin, and was inspired to a life of folk music by village traditions and his grandfather, who played kaba gaida, a low pitched majestic sounding gaida specific to the Rhodope mountain region in southern Bulgaria. Vassil joined the ensemble Sto Kaba Gaida, an ensemble of one hundred Rhodope bagpipes, at age 11. He went on to graduate from the folk Music school in Shiroka Luka, a special high school dedicated to preserve Bulgarian traditional music,songs and dance. Vassil continued his musical education and graduated with honours from the Plovdiv Folk Music Conservatory, the highest level of traditional musical education obtainable in Bulgaria.

In Bulgaria there are two types of bagpipes: the low pitched kaba gaida is played in the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains. Elsewhere in Bulgaria the jura gaida remains the most popular instrument for traditional events. Vassil Bebelekov is one of few masters on both instruments.

Vassil Bebelekov played in more than 300 performances in Europe,Asia and the Middle East with the well known Ensemble Trakia. Vassil also performed and produced records,cassettes and CDs during three seasons with Philipopolis Ensemble Sofia and has recorded extensively for National Radio Sofia and Radio Plovdiv. He taught at the Shiroka Luka Music School for many years and has played and taught extensively throughout America.

Vassil Bebelekov recently brought his teaching and performing experience to America, including serving as visiting professor in the Ethnomusicology Department at UCLA, where he taught Balkan Ensemble. Today Vassil performs and teaches Bulgarian music and makes gaidas and other Bulgarian musical instruments. Mr. Bebelekov continues to participate in traditional Bulgarian music tours throughout the United States with Sredets, Kef Orchestra, Bebelekov Family, and Grupa Maistori ensembles.

During the last few years Vassil has collaborated with flamenco guitarist Freddy Clarke performing and recording fusion music with great success.