BalkaNova

Balkanfolk & World Jazz

Our project

Balkanfolk & World Jazz

Viktoria Lasaroff (BG) vocals, accordion, percussion | Andreas Brunn (D) 7-string acoustic guitar | Robin Draganic (CAN) double bass.

The international ensemble, with the fantastic Bulgarian singer Viktoria Lasaroff, fuses Balkan folk and world jazz in an innovative style. At festivals we also play in a quintet with Vladimir Karparov (BG) sax and Stoyan Yankoulov (BG) drums.

Viktoria Lasaroff leads an international singing workshop in Havana (CUB) every year since 2014, also in 2024 from 27.04. – 20.05.2024 (supported over the years by the Goethe Institute, the DAAD and the Foreign Ministry of the FRG).

We recorded our new CD with BalkaNova at the end of February 2024 in the excellent Tune In Studio with the help of a grant from the Berlin Senate. These recordings are in progress, among others the Bulgarian star Stoyan Yankoulov just played in his studio in Sofia to our rough mixes and these musical highlights will soon be integrated into the CD, which will be released in the fall by our record company Laika Records.

BalkaNova interprets folk songs in a special way: arrangements developed close to the text reflect the meaning of the words at every moment through subtle, jazzy harmonies, fast-paced rhythms and the metrics typical of the Balkans. The text, melody and accompaniment of the original Balkan songs are woven together in a unique way.

BalkaNova played with the Bulgarian star Stoyan Yankoulov at the BERLIN BALKAN SLAM Festival and the DÜRENER JAZZTAGE. The trio has recorded a CD with Stoyan Yankoulov as a guest. It was released in September 2012. The following recordings were pre-releases of the new BalkaNova album.

Studio Recording of our next CD:“Byala Jana” trad. Bulg. (arr. V.Lasaroff/A.Brunn)

Biography

The soprano Viktoria Lasaroff was born in Sofia (Bulgaria) in 1975. Even in her infancy, she stood on the “boards that mean the world” in the Berlin Metropol Theater. At the age of 6 she received her first piano and accordion lessons. She continued her musical and vocal education at the Georg Friedrich Händel Special School of Music and as a young student at the Julius Stern Institute of the Berlin University of the Arts. There she studied school music and singing. Since 2000 she has sung several opera roles in both mezzo and soprano.

She showed her warm multi-faceted vocal sound and versatile acting skills both in trouser roles such as the youthful seducer Blansac in “La scala di seta” by G.Rossini and as the femme fatal Lavina in the Neuzell production of “Die Ganz von Kairo” by W.A. Mozart. Private training in jazz singing with Doro Dalg, Judy Niemack and Kara Johnstad as well as seminars and workshops in Brazilian music and Balkan chants expanded her stylistic repertoire.

In numerous song recitals “Slavianska Dushá” with the Ukrainian pianist Olga Romanchenko, her Bulgarian roots unite with her classical vocal culture in songs by Bulgarian and other composers of the Slavic region to create a moving sound experience. Together with guitarist Andreas Brunn and bassist Klaus Axenkopf, their entire cultural and musical background is transformed into sounding emotion in an exotic mixture of Balkan melodies and creative jazz sounds.

Andreas Brunn was born in Weimar in 1964, played the clarinet since the age of six, started learning the guitar at the age of fourteen and has been a musician in bands of various styles ever since. He studied guitar and music theory at the “Franz Liszt” University of Music in Weimar.

His composition “Two Faces” was awarded 1st prize in the guitar composition competition Open Strings in 1999, announced throughout Germany by the specialized magazine AKUSTIKGitarre.

The guitarist has given concerts at various European and Asian festivals and has worked with Petri Hakala, Stoyan Yankoulov, Ateshan Husseinov, Uli Bartel, Mack Goldsbury, Ralf Siedhoff, Ferenc Snetberger and has given concerts with a solo program. Andreas Brunn took conga lessons with Topo Gioa and teaches percussion using the Ta-Ke-Ti-Na method.

In 2003 he was a scholarship holder of the Senate Department for Science, Research and Culture, Berlin in Bulgaria and in 2008 also a scholarship holder in Finland.

In the summer of 2004 and 2007 he was the artistic director of the EU-supported project “Young Music Caravan Europe”, which traveled 7,500 km with young musicians from Europe and made guest appearances at renowned festivals in a large number of countries.

The double bass player Robin Draganic was born on January 3, 1963 in Zagreb (Croatia). His family moved to Canada when he was six years old.

After two years in China, where he taught English, he came to Germany in 1988 and studied double bass with a member of the BSO.

For twenty years he played almost every night of the week and led several jam sessions, e.g. at the Schlot, the Bepop Bar, the B-Flat and the Jazz Scheune.

Since 2001 he has been touring and recording with the band Lyambiko (for Sony Classical). The ensemble has sold over 60,000 records!

As Dr. Jazz he performs with the MG Showcompany with the shows Lets Burlesque and Glanz. Over the last ten years, the ensemble has toured all over Germany.

Press

BalkaNova at the MALAGA JAZZFESTIVAL

“… BALKANOVA, the voice of the Balkans … Viktoria Lasaroff, who is on stage, sings in the highest soprano. How is that possible? This woman had a deep voice just a few minutes before. How does she manage that? A voice that fills your eyes with tears, leaves you spellbound and already asking for the next song. The Balkanova Trio tells us stories and well-known legends of the Balkans, which take shape in beautiful songs in a very unique way, played perfectly and flawlessly. …

This was a night of anecdotes and jazz, of stories, legends and magic. An hour of pure enjoyment with one of the best European jazz voices. An hour to appreciate real professionals who are making a name for themselves with their special and unique sound. Yesterday we smiled with our hearts thanks to this Balkan trio….” Lily Sánchez @ www.modernicolas.com

CD review: JAZZPODIUM
BalkaNova – Heart Beats – Bos Rec 228-12

Featuring Stoyan Yankoulov

“… Bulgaria is the cultural area that most appeals to the likeable 7string acoustician and music activist Andreas Brunn in his gentle campaign against national and cultural borders. In 2010, Brunn and the outstanding saxophonist Vladimir Karparov, who brings with him an important share of regionality, presented their “East Side Story”, which was of course much more than just that, because the other, the silent half always resonated in the – still wordless – messages…

BalkaNova live

Concerts

BalkaNova @ Zimmer 16

08.06.24 20:00, BalkaNova – Berlin . Sofia . Toronto | Balkanfolk & World Jazz ZIMMER 16, Florastr. 16 | www.zimmer16.com

BalkaNova @ Café Tasso

24.05.2024, 20:00, Café Tasso, Frankfurter Allee 11, 10247 Berlin| www.cafe-tasso.de, Information also available at Sinnewerk.

BalkaNova @ b-flat Berlin

12.03.2024, 21:00, B-Flat, Dircksenstraße 40, 10178 Berlin |  Phillip Bernhardt on drums! www.b-flat-berlin.de

Contact

Are you planning an event and would like to inquire about one of the artists or bands? Please do not hesitate to contact us.