With a carefully timed slide show of her photographs of Bulgaria backing her up, Bistra Hristova last night had us enthralled as she told us about growing up in the Balkan Mountains steeped in the country's folk music, costumes, rich history and customs, and breathtaking beauty. And then she blew our socks off: she began singing in the complex style of the Balkans --music clearly influenced by nations to the east, some of the vocal techniques absolutely foreign to western music (although not unfamiliar to those who have listened to Greek, Turkish, and Arabic singing). In other words, you may have heard it done, but you sure can't do it! Bistra is not only musically trained, but she also has a naturally beautiful vocal quality.
The presentation spawned a spirited discussion on the subject of our connection to our native land. We found that such connections vary widely between individuals, but are often deep and always permanent. I personally noted a resonance between my connection to small town Texas and the connection to the childhood in Bulgaria that Bistra described. Though Bistra's superb photography and music were of special interest to artists in those genres, the salon was appropriate for anybody who in any way feels connected to a homeland.