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Bansko Jazz 2011 – Maya Nova

April 15, 2011 by · 1 comment

Interview by Dessislava Berndt with the jazz singer Maya Nova

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 on the Balkans.

Since its foundation in 1998 the festival has been held every year from August 8th to 13th in the small town of Bansko. The concerts are free for the public. Traditionally, the programme features styles and groups representing almost all jazz trends. 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 jazz singer Maya Nova, who will participate in the International Jazz Festival Bansko 2011.

Maya Nova_Sam Kumar
Maya Nova, Photo: Sam Kumar

Maya, what is the meaning of music for you?

Music is my life.

How has the environment affected your personality and your music?

I feel very privileged and lucky to live in such a safe country away from natural disasters; for me this is the most important thing. I feel great compassion and responsibility for the poverty-stricken and deprived people; and whenever I have the chance to help them, I take it.

You work and live in Singapore; do you have relationships and contacts in Bulgaria?

Yes, I keep in touch with lots of friends and colleagues. I was very active in the live music scene before I started to travel 12 years ago.

Why did you decide to move there? Do you miss anything Bulgarian there?

I moved to Singapore for personal reasons. The thing I miss most here is my family!

Esplanade Outdoor Theatre_Singapore 1
Esplanade Outdoor Theatre, Singapore, Photo: Maya Nova

Is 2011 going to be your first time at the International Jazz Festival Bansko?

Yes, this is the first time for me to play at Bansko Jazz Festival ( and I am very, very excited! It is also the first time (if I take out few occasional jam gigs with friends in Sofia) that I will be performing live on a big stage in Bulgaria in 12 years. Somehow until now, I’ve always spent the time back home on holidays with my family.

What are your impressions from Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people in the last years?

I don’t have much observation; as I said, I spend very little time back home. But I think Bulgaria seems and feels more and more a part of Europe nowadays.


For you, what was the most surprising experience working with other musicians?

As a jazz musician (or that’s what I would like to be…) I find myself in situations of working with different musicians all the time, so no surprise there. But the best thing of being live on stage with other musicians is the communication through music – it is like having a conversation with somebody on a deeper level. Especially in jazz, where the main element of music is improvisation, you can really go everywhere with the conversations and feel the personalities beyond words. The most important thing is to listen at all times and if you click or happen to get along with the music thoughts and feelings of the people on the stage- it’s great, it’s really a lot of fun!

live at Esplanade_Simon Zheng
Live in Esplanade, Singapore, Photo: Simon Zheng

What is the source of your inspiration?

Life itself – music, family, friends, the simple things I like to do every day.

Maya Nova in cheongsam_ JPG
Maya Nova, Photo: JPG

What are you dreaming about?

Oh, I am quite of a daydreamer…but all I want for me and the people I love is to be healthy, so we can do the things that bring us joy and fulfillment.

live at Blu Jazz, Singapore
Blu Jazz, Singapore, Photo: Maya Nova

What is the greatest satisfaction for you as an artist and your biggest challenge?

My greatest satisfaction is when I hear somebody saying that they had fun listening to me or they got a certain feeling, that they were moved in some way.

Maya Nova_Hedy Khoo
Maya Nova, Photo: Hedy Khoo

The biggest challenge for me is being a practitioner and keeping your instrument in shape all the time; especially that I am a singer and my instrument is my body. Working on your instrument and your music is a lifetime commitment, no days off. And I love it!

album launch at Esplanade Recital Studio_Ming Chien
Esplanade Recital Studio, Photo: Ming Chien

What is the most important thing people should know about you?

I love what I do! Hope that everybody has a chance to do what they love.

Would you please tell us something about your current and future projects?

I did release my debut album in September last year with a concert at Esplanade Recital Studio in Singapore and I have been concentrating on promoting it – signed a distribution deal for Asia with a local record label, worked in collaboration with Starbucks Singapore, who were promoting and selling my album in their outlets, and have been doing lots of live shows and presentations.

album launch_Ming Chien
Presentation “Open”, Photo: Ming Chien

Another project on my plate at the moment is the upcoming concerts for Bansko (Bulgaria) and Nisville (Serbia) jazz festivals in August with a very exciting line up: Dimitar Bodurov on the piano, Tchavdar Natchev on the double bass and Dimiter Dimitrov on the drums.

And I have as a special guest a great saxophone player and composer from the US – Rick Margitza. I was introduced to his music 2 years ago, when I heard him live at Sunset jazz club in Paris and loved it, felt much related to it. So I am very happy that he accepted my invitation and I hope that we will be “cooking” some good music this summer.

Maya_Hedy Khoo
Maya Nova, Photo: Hedy Khoo

Also, at the moment, between teaching voice and performing, I’m trying to play the piano more, to work on harmony and improvisation and to write music, so that I have more of my own material for future records.

And for whoever passes through Singapore, they can find me performing live at the INK Bar at Fairmont Hotel on Mondays with the Rick Smith trio and on Thursdays with the Jeremy Monteiro trio – it is a great gig with fantastic musicians!

Where can your albums be bought from?

My album OPEN is available online through my website –, CD Baby and iTunes. And also in: Malaysia (Rock Corner), HongKong (CD Warehouse), Taiwan (Eslite), Indoensia (Audiophiles, Disctarra).


Maya Nova is a passionate and soulful jazz vocalist from Bulgaria.

Born into a family with great love for music and singing, Maya started playing classical guitar at 10 and later on took up the piano as her second instrument. Upon graduating with Masters in Jazz & Pop Voice major from Pop Art Department of National Music Academy in Bulgaria, she started appearing on the live music stage with several group projects: Mayrose Jazz Trio; funk bands – Chameleon and Infinity; pop band – Forte.

Finalist at two Voice Competitions for young talents: “Golden Orpheus” and “Star Moments”, where she performed with the National Radio Big Band. Other credits include appearances at Sofia Jazz Fall Festival with Maya Nova Jazz Quartet and the popular TV program “Todor Kolev’s Night Show” with the National Music Academy Big Band.

Maya Nova has performed internationally at concerts, festivals and jazz clubs in Denmark, Norway, Cypress, Singapore, Malaysia, India, China, South Korea.

In 2009 Maya was a semi-finalist of the Shure Montreux Jazz Voice Competition, performing at the 43rd Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland.

Montreux Jazz Voice Competition 2009a
Montreux Jazz Voice Contest 2009, Photo: Maya Nova

Since 2002 Maya Nova has been living in Singapore, where she holds the position of Main Study Voice Lecturer at LaSalle College of The Arts, combining it with a busy performance schedule.

Kurt Elling master class at Esplanade 1
Kurt-Elling-Master class, Photo: Maya Nova

In September 2010 Maya Nova released her debut album OPEN, comprising renditions of jazz standards like: “My Shining Hour”, “I’m Old Fashioned”, “Speak Low”, “Wild Is the Wind”, “Grooving High” and two of her originals – a Bulgarian folk song based on “Polegnala e Todora Blues” and “Open”. The sound of this record carries the intimate feeling of a soulful voice backed by an acoustic jazz trio – Tan Wei Xiang on the fender rhodes, Andrew Klein on the double bass and Tan Boon Gee on the drums. With all her love, Maya has dedicated this album to her late father!

Official website:



Twitter profile!/mayastoyanova

CD Baby artist profile:

Album “Open” on iTunes

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