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Artist of the Week – Silvia Mitev

March 7, 2016 by ·

Interview by Dessislava Berndt with the Fado singer Silvia Mitev

Jazz Festival Bansko

The International Jazz Festival in Bansko is one of the biggest summer musical events in Bulgaria and one of the foremost international cultural happenings in the Balkans.

Since its foundation in 1998 the festival has been held annually from August 8th to 13th in the small town of Bansko. Tickets for the concerts are free of charge for the public. Traditionally, the programme features styles and groups representing almost all jazz styles. During the festival week, jazz is also played on various smaller stages in the large resort complexes and restaurants.

Today we would like to present you the Fado singer Silvia Mitev (Bulgaria/Portugal). She will perform in a concert at the 2016 edition of the Jazz festival held in the Bularian mountains.



Silvia, how did you come upon the invitation for Bansko Jazz Festival? Are you participating for the firts time?

I should say I came upon the invitation to participate in the Bansko Jazz Festival due to a kind of a family bet 🙂 My family has always been retated to music both in a professional and personal way. So Bansko Jazz Festival has always been considered by us a very well respected and amazing stage, not only because of the international recognition which it has already earned, but because of the celebrity artists and musicians who present their magnificent work here; also because of the great audience, which I know is very demanding.

In this particular case, I owe this firts participation in Bansko Jazz Festival to my mother and my father because when I released my firts album, they wanted me to present it in Bansko and engaged this project as their first priority during one of their first coming holidays to Bulgaria. And of course I owe it especially to Dr. Emil Iliev because he beleived in me! 🙂 It is a huge responsibility and a great honor for me to sing on this particular stage which has already received tremendosly huge names and universally recognized Bulgarian and foreign artists like Vassil Petrov, Yildiz Ibrahimova, Scott Hamilton, Kamelia Todorova, Ana Moura and so many others …

Silvia Mitev, Photo: Hugo Macedо

You work and live in Portugal. What is your relationship with Bulgaria?

My relationship with Bulgaria has always been pretty intense because part of my family lives there. Besides, I graduated Tourism in Portugal and I always present the country where I was born as a cozy, sunny land with beautiful nature and extremely rich in a historical and cultural way.

What are your favorite places in the two countries?

I should say in the firts place, of course the town where I live now – Viseu (Portugal) and the town where I was born – Shumen (Bulgaria). I also like very much Varna, becauce we (people from Shumen) use to say that “Varna is the seaport fo Shumen”! I also like very much Sarafovo and Bourgas, because this is the place I spent most of my summers as a child (I also have a lot of relatives). In the winter I have a few favourite places, such as Maliovitsa, Bansko, Semkovo not only because they have really splendid natural scenery, but because I love to practice ski and there are marvellous environmental and tourist conditions. I miss Bulgarian mountains.

In Portugal, I love spending some time in Lisbon, because this is where Fado was born. I love to visit the fado taverns (Casas de Fado) and to meet and greet my coleagues. It is quite a show sometimes, because when we meet, we all sing and my coleagues play…it is actually a kind of a closed society where tradition means so much and it´s very nice to be part of it and learn at the same time.

Silvia Mitev, Photo: Hugo Maced��������

Porto and Coimbra are other beautiful cities that I enjoy visiting very much. I kind of like being a tourist guide and show all the interesting places there to my Bulgarian and foreign friends. I love taking them to some nice typical restaurants and eat some delicious Portuguese cuisine. In Porto, with a view of River Douro, we normally eat fresh fish or ocotpus. I enjoy visiting Coimbra as well. With its hilly scenery and the University (the oldest in Europe) it reminds me very much of the Bulgarian Veliko Tarnovo. A great part of my best friends live in Coimbra-it is also the capital of “Fado de Coimbra”. It is another type of the Fado music, but its particularity is that it is more “academic” ,but still romantic. It was sung by male students to their beloved ladies (donzelas). This is where Portuguese serenades were born!

What are your plans for 2016?

I hope 2016 would be quite a benefical year in professional and personal plan. We are still at the beginning of the year and I already have quite a few international tours and concerts programmed: Switzerland, Spain, Bulgaria (Bansko and most likely Burgas, and perhaps other cities). I am also constantly occupied in Portugal. Performances and concerts come up all the time and I am very glad people want us to present our Fado spectacle.

How would you describe yourself as a person?

In the first place I consider myself a very senstive person… Not only because I am a natural, because of my astrologic sign (I am a Cancer girl), but also because I was raised in a family closely connected to music, and this inevitably changes me with quite a heavy sentimental change. And I must say that this is the reason that brought me so closely to Fado Music. I see myself in Fado, it��������s like a mirror to me.

Silvia Mitev

In addition to this sensitivity and sentimentalism, I dare say that I am a very responsible person and a good human being. I was taught to respect all the others! As a matter of fact I was raised and lived a lot of years in Angola in a very foreign-friendly environment with a bunch of different nationalities (Angolan, Portuguese, Brazilian, Cubans, Argentinian, Spanish, Russians, Bulgarians, you name it!). I really care for and respect other cultures (as long as they don����t harm others: humans or other animals!).

What does Fado mean to you?

Fado is all about feelings for me. There is no actual way or form that Fado could be sung without feeling it. Perhaps 99% of the true meaning and the true sense of Fado music (for those who perform it!) is in the lyrics…. every word is important! As a musical genre, Fado is the only one that presents so trully Portuguese culture and the Portuguese soul!

It is a great pleasure for me to sing in Portuguese, because I see this language as my second mother-tongue. It is also a great responsibility and honour to be accompained by some outstanding Portuguese musicians.
What gives me more strenght and force is the support I receive from the Portuguese audience. The fact that they themselves appreciate, encourage and promote my art is really priceless.

cover cd


How and why did you decide to sing fado?

Fado came completely naturally into my life. I´ve been connected to Portuguese language and culture almost all my life. When I finally moved to Portugal in 2002, I came across some recording of Amalia Rodrigues. Her voice, so warm, but at the same toime so pure and filled with brilliance was the catalysing factor for me to fall in love with this sentimental and sensual music, so to say. Of course then I got to know other wonderful performers, composers and poets of Fado, which naturally created in me a very strong relationship with this music.

Silvia Mitev, Photo: Hugo Maced��

Here in Portugal they say that �������you do not choose whether to sing Fado or not! It is Fado that chooses you!”. And again we come back to the same cricial point I mentioned before: there isn��t a way or form that Fado can be sung without understanding and feeling every single word you sing! There is no way to get the audience shiver and thrill, without you shivering with the words you sing.

Well, it turned out that people wanted to hear me sing and step by step I found myself in the Portuguese scenes and stages. I begun to appear on Portuguese television and to perform on stages where Mariza, Ana Moura, Carlos do Carmo, Camané- and others – have already perfomed. People begun to wonder how a Bulgarian girl like me (though with double nationality: Bulgarian-Portuguese) sings Fado – something that is so deeply rooted and ingrained in Portuguese blood. Fado is a great national and cultural symbol for Portuguese people. Well, the most curious thing in all of this is that most of the audience really come to figure out that I was not actually born in Portugal, but in Bulgaria, and that is because normally I sing one Bulgarian song from the folclore.

What is the most interesting experience working with foreign artists and musicians?

The most interesting experience working with my Portuguese colleagues (and other colleagues from around the world) is also connected to the Bulgarian folclore! 🙂 All the musicians I have ever worked with, love to play Bulgarian folklore! No exceptions. Usually we even do jam sessions on a Bulgarian folclore song at most of the rehearsals. They normally get very excited and positively surprised by the beauty and complexity of the Bulgarian folklore, not only because of the rhythm and measures, but also because of the music gamuts … They love to play Bulgarian folclore with a jazz groove and it´s really fun!

Basically they get damn interested in the Bulgarian music itself, and I get damn excited with the fact that they enjoy it so much! So it´s a Win-Win Situation. There are neither borders nor limitations for music. 🙂

What do you dream of?

My dream is to continue successfully to do what I do, because music fills me with great happiness, radiance and spiritual peace. It doesn´t really matter wheather I will own a lot or just the necessary. The important thing is to be happy with what we make with our own hands and head (and voice in this case). Sometimes I ask myself �����������How could I have this great luck to be working the most wonderful job?”. After all, the life a of a musician or an artist like me, has a soundtrack! What could be better than that? 🙂

What do you do in your spare time?

I really love sleeping, because I need to rest my voice (sometimes I get quite busy). It´s quite tiring between concerts, rehersals, travelling… and more travelling. I rarely get to travel just for pleasure and vacations.
I love animals and I spend a lot of time spoiling my puppy! 🙂 I also practice sports, mostly fitness and cycling. I love the sea, and I should say Portugal provides marvellous conditions for summer tourism with amazing beaches. Unfortunately, on a great part of the coast the ocean water is terribly cold, not like the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. I really miss skiing and the Bulgarian mountains in winter. Portugal is best known for its Coasts, Culinary marvels, Fado and Culture, but not for its conditions for winter sports. However, the mountain Serra da Estrella is a pretty interesting place to be visited in the winter, especially alongside a nice and cosy fireplace with a glass of red wine – in my oppinion (and not only!) – the best one on the Earth.

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