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FAQs Folk Seminar 2014

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Thanks to all of you who submitted evaluations in 2013 - to a large degree your comments helped reshape some of the Seminar's activities in 2014.

The daily dance program in 2014 will feature one village (and region) teaching each day. The last dance session for each village (region) will be a review session where videotaping will take place.

We are planning lots of evening social activities for the 2014 Seminar attendees, and the dance hall will be open every evening until 10:00 pm. We are currently in the process of finalizing plans for evening activities, so check back here periodically for updates.

Bank Transfer is the only way to pre-pay for the Seminar, as the Music Academy believes this is the most secure method for pre-payment. Payment can only be made in Euros.

A Bank Transfer electronically transfers money directly from your bank to the Music Academy's bank account in Bulgaria. Bank transfers usually take approximately 3 days to complete. To pre-pay by Bank Transfer, your bank will need following information:

Bank Name and Address: UNICREDIT BULBANK
Bank Address: 31 Ivan Vazov Str.
Plovdiv 4000
Bulgaria
Bank SWIFT code: UNCRBGSF
Account Name: Academy of Music Dance and Fine Arts Plovdiv
Account Address: 2 Todor Samodumov Str.
Plovdiv 4000
Bulgaria
Account Number (in EURO): 3498641407
IBAN Number (in EURO): BG56UNCR75273498641407

When you have completed your Bank Transfer, please email us (at contact@folkseminarplovdiv.net) to indicate the date of your Bank Transfer. This will assist Seminar administrative staff with tracking your payment. If the Bank Transfer is originating from a bank account that is not in the registrant's name, or funds are being transferred for more than one registrant, please include the name of the person who owns the account, and all registrant names associated with your Bank Transfer.

On-Site Payment - Seminar attendees can also opt to pay on-site in Euros upon arrival at the Seminar. However, those who select this option should note that payment on-site is more expensive than normal (or late) payment. Please note that the on-site rate applies to all Seminar registrants paying on-site (including those who registered on-line but did not pay by Bank Transfer).

Personal checks, bank checks, traveler's checks, credit cards or money orders cannot be accepted.

Go to the Contact Us page, enter your name and email address, select "About Classes & Teachers," and in the message section list your instrument of interest. If your attendance at the Seminar is contingent on that instrument class being offered, please specify this requirement.

  • On-line Registration will stay open until July 15, 2014.
  • Mail-in registrations will be not accepted with postmark dates later than July 15, 2014.
  • On-site registration at the Music Academy will take place for the duration of the Seminar, starting on July 20, 2014.
  • Bank Transfer payment should not be initiated after July 15, 2014. (This will allow ample time for the transactions to be cleared through the various banks, and Seminar staff to associate the Bank Transfer with your registration.)

The Orientation, which we strongly suggest all students attend, will take place in the Music Academy's Concert Hall at 5:00 pm on Sunday, July 20, 2014. The Music Academy is located in the center of the city, at the top of the hill in "Old Town," just above the ancient Roman Theater. The Orientation will give students, teachers, and the Music Academy rector and staff an opportunity to get acquainted. This will also serve as an opportunity to discuss local restaurants, the schedule for the week (including last-minute changes), planned evening events, and logistical questions. Instrument loan will take place at this time. The Orientation will end with a short dance party at the Academy.

This rate is approximately 50% of the adult rate and applies to students who have been enrolled full-time in a college or university during the 2013-2014 calendar year.

The East European Folklife Center (EEFC) is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to educate the general public about the folk music, folk dance, and folklore in the Balkans through promoting and sponsoring activities which honor and celebrate the richness of these cultures; and to foster understanding and respect of all peoples through shared experiences of Balkan cultures.

- EEFC mission statement

The EEFC (www.eefc.org) and the Bulgarian Folk Music and Dance Seminar are Supporting Partners, whose programs share many common educational goals.

Individual, family or student members of the EEFC (www.eefc.org) will receive an additional 15% discount at the time of their registration.

The general telephone number for the Music Academy is (032)-628-311. If you would like to reach us - Dilyana Kurdova, Larry Weiner or Lyuben Dossev - we can be reached in Plovdiv at:

Larry Weiner (tentatively beginning July 8, 2013)
Cell phone number (dialing from outside Bulgaria): +359-889-663-238
Cell phone number (dialing from within Bulgaria): 0889-663-238

Dilyana Kurdova
Cell phone number (dialing from outside Bulgaria): +359-887 990321
Cell phone number (dialing from within Bulgaria): 0887 990321

Lyuben Dossev
Cell phone number (dialing from outside Bulgaria): +359-886-710-668
Cell phone number (dialing from within Bulgaria): 0886-710-668

A fairly reliable and relatively inexpensive calling card for making calls between Bulgaria and North America (originating in either country) is available through www.bulink.com. There is a local access number in Plovdiv for this service; calls back to the USA are 7 cents/minute. (Sorry, we don't currently have info for calls between Bulgaria and other countries.) There is also a computer room with internet access available at the Music Academy during specific hours each day. Users of Skype should bring their own headphones.

The Sofia Airport now has two terminals. The older terminal (Terminal 1) is used by intra-Bulgarian airlines and smaller, "low-cost" European carriers. As we understand it, almost all international flights arrive at the new terminal (Terminal 2), where most banks and ATMs are located and you can change some currency into Leva. At Terminal 2, taxis are always available and there is public transportation (Sofia city buses); there are also places to buy phone cards for use with the local pay phones, car rental kiosks, a bookstore and most other services one usually finds at major international airports. For more information about the airport, go to http://www.sofia-airport.bg/.

After your plane lands, you will first go through "Passport Control" and then follow the signs to Baggage Claim. After you get your luggage, you will pass through Customs. Generally, everybody chooses to walk through the "Nothing to Declare" queue, and it seems that rarely are visitors asked to open their baggage for inspection.

Note: If your baggage does not arrive on your plane, there is an office in Baggage Claim where you can get assistance. They will attempt to locate your luggage, and if it has been delayed for some reason, they will deliver it to literally anyplace you are in Bulgaria, within about 48 hours, at no charge to you. (This has happened to Larry and he was pleasantly surprised by the high quality of service. However, this is still a good reason to pack a change of clothes in your carry-on baggage.)

After passing through Customs, you will enter Terminal 2's main foyer. If you don't have any Leva with you, you may want to change some of your national currency into Leva at any of the banks or ATMs in the airport lobby (even though Bulgaria is now a member of the EU, Bulgaria still uses Leva as its national currency and almost all "cash" transactions are in Leva). If you arrive late in the evening the banks may be closed, but each of them has an ATM (Bankomat) at their entrance that accepts most bank cards, worldwide. (Note: Do NOT use a credit card to "buy" Leva, unless you want to pay hefty fees - if you use a credit card, it is considered an advance or a loan, and is not the same thing as using an ATM card. Also, an ATM machine is more likely to give you a better exchange rate than a bank in the airport - see "Larry's Hints" below.)

Taxi from the Airport to the Sofia bus or train station

If you decide to take a taxi from the airport to the train or bus station (or your hotel) it is very important to go to the "taxi desk" (opposite the door where you exited Customs control) and request a taxi; this will help you in not being overcharged. (Someone will typically go outside with you to confirm your ride with a taxi driver.) They speak some English as well as some other non-Bulgarian languages. The people at the taxi desks we spoke with implied that they knew there was a problem with some taxis overcharging, but insisted that it would not happen if you go to the taxi desk first. There is no extra charge to use the taxi desk.

The taxi ride is about 15 kilometers or so to the bus station and the cost per kilometer is .79 Leva/kilometer (.90 lv/km after 10 pm), plus some small charge for waiting in traffic (.18 lv.minute). When you get into a taxi this should be posted somewhere. It is also a good idea to ask the taxi driver how much it should cost to go to the bus or train station (or your hotel if you are staying in Sofia). We don't recommend taking a taxi from Sofia to Plovdiv because it will be quite expensive.

There may be taxi drivers "lurking" (meaning waiting) in front of (or inside) the airport terminal for people wanting a taxi and coming up to you to see if you want a taxi. These are usually the folks who are charging the outrageous 70-100 Leva rates for taxis to the Sofia bus station. If they ask you if you want a taxi just say "no" and go to the taxi desk. The two companies with desks are the "Taxi-S-Express" and the "OK-Supertrans" but again only take them after you have gone to the taxi desk. These two companies have many taxis waiting outside the door on the right hand side of the terminal, and they should be OK.

One of the best ways to get from the Sofia Airport to Plovdiv is by "Avtobus" (bus). However, you will either need to take a taxi, city bus, or combination of the two in order to get from the Sofia Airport to the Central Bus Station, "Centralna Avtogara," in Sofia. If you decide to take the city bus (a large yellow/orange bus, #84), it stops in front of Terminal 2. The bus from the Airport, and all busses within Sofia, cost 1 Lev. There is no person collecting money on the bus, only the bus driver sells tickets (and he usually does not have any) - I advise all people to try and buy the tickets from the airport. Moreover, each piece of big luggage must have its ticket, too. Otherwise the people who check the tickets on the bus will fine the passenger. And they usually play together with the bus driver to fine foreigners. You should get off at the Hotel Pliska and then get on bus #313 at the Hotel Pliska, which goes to the Central Bus Station, "Centralna Avtogara." (This "first adventure" in Bulgaria, getting from the Sofia Airport to the Central Bus Station, "Centralna Avtogara" by bus, can take about 1 ½ hours.) If you take a taxi from the airport directly to the central Bus Station, "Centralna Avtogara," it should not cost more than 20-25 Leva (regardless of how many passengers) and take about 20 minutes (45 minutes in rush hour, so the cost might be a little higher then). A third option, a compromise, is to take bus #84 from the Sofia Airport to its last stop at the University, and take a taxi from there to the Central Bus Station.

Also, another option for getting to the Central Bus Station, "Centralna Avtogara" is by taking a taxi to the University and taking the Metro from the University. The Metro has grown bigger.

When you finally arrive at the Central Bus Station, "Centralna Avtogara," locate the kiosk that advertises "Plovdiv" and purchase a bus ticket there. The cost is about 15 Leva. They will tell you when the bus is leaving for Plovdiv, and from which bus parking place. It may also be possible to purchase a ticket directly from the bus driver (if in doubt, check at the "Information" kiosk). The bus normally leaves on the hour from Sofia to Plovdiv, until around 8:00 pm. The bus ride is approximately 1 hour 45 minutes and the final stop is on the main street (bulevard Hristo Botev), opposite the Plovdiv "Avtogara Yug," next to the train station. There should be plenty of taxis in the area. Ask a taxi driver to take you to your hotel (most drivers know where every hotel is, but it is a good idea to have the street address with you) or to the "Music Academy" (bulevard Todor Samodoumov #2, next to the ancient Roman Theater), if you are going directly to the Orientation on Sunday afternoon.

A completely different option to consider when traveling to Plovdiv from elsewhere in Europe, is to consider finding a RyanAir flight to Plovdiv Airport from either London Stansted or Frankfurt Hahn Airports. The Plovdiv Airport is located approximately 15 km south of the Music Academy in Plovdiv, and a relatively short taxi ride.

In planning your return trip from Plovdiv to Sofia, we suggest taking the bus, which runs every hour. It is usually about a 2-hour trip. You need to be at the bus station 1 hour earlier in order to purchase your ticket on the day of departure. The buses depart from Bus Station "South"- Avtogara "Yug" - close to the train station.

The Music Academy will not be providing a dance syllabus for the dance program, but a DVD of the dance review sessions will be made available for purchase. (See also the section on videotaping, below.) For the singing program, song words (but not music charts) will be provided. For the instrumental music program, some of the instructors may provide music charts.

Audio recording will be allowed during all classes. Videotaping will be allowed during all instrument and vocal classes. Videotaping will be allowed during each of the dance review sessions (session 4) but is not allowed during the dance instruction sessions (the first 3 dance sessions each day).

Any in-class recordings (video or audio) made at the Seminar are for each registrant's personal use and may not be used for commercial purposes, uploaded to social networking sites (e.g. Facebook) or file sharing services (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, Vbox7). We have established this policy as a courtesy to both Seminar teaching staff and your fellow Seminar participants.

For the past number of years the Music Academy has produced a 2 DVD set of videos for the dance program. This DVD set is available for a small additional charge (payable at the end of the Seminar) and the DVDs are sent approximately 3 months after the Seminar. Further, for village dance groups that do not have music CDs for sale at the Seminar, we will produce a set of CDs and make them available in a similar manner as the DVDs.

  • If you need help with something (and don't speak Bulgarian), try to find a young Bulgarian person to assist you. Today many young Bulgarians speak some English.
  • In Plovdiv, taxis are fairly inexpensive (by Western standards); a taxi rarely costs more than 8 Leva (approximately $6.00 US) to go from one side of town to the other. Generally the driver is not tipped. Taxi fares increase somewhat past 10:30 pm. I have found that most Plovdiv taxi drivers will take you to your destination using the most direct route.
  • In Plovdiv if you want to be driven to the Music Academy, just say "Music Academy" to the driver; they all seem to know where it is.
  • Changing money - I have found that generally the best rates are available through a bank's ATM machine using your bank debit card (not a credit card.) The money-changing kiosks at the Sofia airport have among the worst rates in Bulgaria. There are many ATM machines in the downtown Plovdiv area. It is a good idea to ask your bank how much you will be allowed to withdraw using a foreign ATM machine, as usually the limit is usually $200-$300 per day. The exchange rate as of March 9, 2014, is approximately 1 USD = 1.41 BGN Leva or 1 EUR = 1.96 BGN. That rate changes somewhat daily and also varies according to where you do your exchange.
  • Travelers Checks - don't waste your time. I have found that no bank in Bulgaria will accept an American Express Travelers check. I doubt that situation has changed much.
  • Most small- and medium-sized businesses do not accept credit cards issued outside of Bulgaria, however, since Bulgaria has entered the EU, I expect more and more businesses will accept foreign credit cards. Large hotels will often accept non-Bulgarian credit cards, but always check ahead of time if you plan to pay by credit card.
  • The bottom line is that most transactions are done in Bulgarian Leva, although some places will allow you to pay in Euros.

We will be offering a daily Bulgarian language class that will attempt to meet the needs of all the students who enroll.

The class will be taught by Daria Mihalkova, a multi-lingual Bulgarian from Sofia who is also very involved with traditional dance in Bulgaria. While Daria will probably not be using this book in class, those of you who would like to work on your Bulgarian language before the Seminar might consider getting "Teach Yourself Bulgarian," which has an accompanying set of 2 CDs. If you are completely new to the language, it would be useful to familiarize yourself with the Bulgarian alphabet beforehand, to make optimal use of this short, week-long class. The new and improved book and CD are available through Amazon for $16.46 at: http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Yourself-Bulgarian-Conversation-Guide/dp/0071499350/ref=pd_sim_b_2.

Food and lodging are not included in the Seminar "package." There are many accommodations and eateries close to the Music Academy, giving participants a variety of choices to suit their dietary and financial needs/desires. Public transportation is very cheap; taxis are common and inexpensive, by standards in North America and other parts of Europe.

For full-time Seminar registrants, the cost of the Friday night Gala (July 25, 2014) is included in the registration fee. Round-trip transportation will be provided by the Seminar for the Gala.

  • The program will have equally strong vocal, instrumental and dance class components, as well as Bulgarian language sessions. Attendees can mix and match classes according to their interests and abilities.
  • Instrumental classes will be offered in most of the major "traditional" Bulgarian instruments (gaida, kaval, gudulka, tambura and tupan), as well as classes for students experienced in accordion, violin and clarinet.
  • Vocal classes will focus on regional styling.
  • Dance classes will focus on village/regional traditional repertoire.
  • Bulgarian language classes will give students some basic knowledge they can use while in Bulgaria.
  • Instrumental and vocal music classes (divided by experience level) will be held in the mornings, and individuals or small groups will meet with the teachers in the afternoons.

We are combining the wealth of expertise that exists at the Music Academy in Plovdiv with native experts from the villages, who have not previously taught outside of Bulgaria. We will have multiple instructors and assistants for most classes, with some music sessions co-presented by faculty from the Music Academy (who are accustomed to teaching) and "old masters," who have their own regional/local repertoire (and may be not accustomed to teaching).

Bulgarian folk dance classes will be similar in that we will feature regional/village dancers (often with many dancers of different ages from the same village) presenting the traditional dances from their folklore areas of Bulgaria (Shopluk, Thrace, Northwest Bulgaria, Pirin, and Dobrudzha). They will be assisted by English speaking dance staff familiar with how non-Bulgarians learn dance. Dance classes will take place throughout the morning and afternoon.

In some cases, these "old masters" are not in excellent health and at this time cannot commit to being at the Seminar for the entire week.

As of September 1, 2006, American citizens do not need a visa for Bulgaria for tourist stays of up to ninety (90) days. For more information go to http://bulgaria.usembassy.gov/bulgarian_entry.html.

Larry Weiner
Bulgarian Folk Music & Dance Seminar - International Program Coordinator
10206 Day Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20910
US tel#: 301-565-0539
or
Dilyana Kurdova
Bulgarian Folk Music & Dance Seminar - International Program Coordinator
ul. Knyaz Batenberg 40
9000, Varna
Bulgaria
Cell (dialing from outside Bulgaria): +359-887-990321
Cell (dialing from within Bulgaria): 0887-990321
or
contact@folkseminarplovdiv.net