Secular and sacred Bulgarian songs of Rituals and Customs


This class of Bulgarian songs reflects the pagan beliefs of the ancient Bulgarians. They are considered to be the oldest traditional Bulgarian songs. They are functionally linked to certain customs and largely depend directly on the Bulgarian people’s strong bond with Nature. At the same time, they express a firm belief in Goodness and Justice. These are calendar songs, linked for centuries to a public holiday such as Christmas, Lazarus Day (an Orthodox feast day: the Saturday before Palm Sunday), Enyo Day (the day of the summer solstice on 24 June), etc. They are also partly family custom songs, in other words songs not linked to a specific day in the calendar but to certain occasions such as a christening, a wedding or a burial. At weddings, for example, the songs console the young bride who is leaving her father’s house; they also beg for rain to come and bless the dry earth, or they hope to chase away evil spirits. They occupy a fairly precise place within the customs. In this rare workshop, Milena Jeliazkova will introduce you to these very ancient Bulgarian songs, which are still highly respected today. Each song will be accompanied by an explanation of the corresponding ritual or custom.


  • Body warm-up: Matching, preparation of the body to find resonances, breath management, relaxation and availability, verticality and horizontality, anchoring to the ground, inner listening, concentration, energy.
  • Exploration of timbres: Voice placement (specificities according to pitches), sound management, work on vowels, articulation, spoken and sung voice. The change of timbre according to the emotion that emerges.
  • Polyphonic approach: Work on intervals (seconds, thirds, fifths) and chords, management of “discomfort”, self-affirmation, acceptance of others.
  • Work on odd rhythms: breath management and specificities.


The master-class is open to beginners and experienced singers and dancers, good ear and correct singing are nevertheless essential.



Bulgarian and French citizen, Milena JELIAZKOVA began her piano and singing studies at the age of six with Kristina Boeva, professor emeritus of the Academy of Musical Arts in Plovdiv. At the same time she took lessons in traditional Bulgarian songs and dances with her mother, a singer and dancer in “Ensemble Trakiya”. After eight years of both, classical and traditional training in her country, she invested herself, in France, with BALKANES, a quartet of Bulgarian a cappella polyphonies, in traditional Bulgarian singing and the world of sacred Slon and Byzantine songs. Milena has been singing since 1997 in this a cappella female ensemble that performs in France, Switzerland, Italy, Bulgaria, Tunisie, Germany, USA…

Her eclectic musical tastes have led her to become increasingly interested in the traditional songs of the world in general and the various singing techniques attached to them.

In 2006, she created with Jean-Pierre Caporossi and Tony Canton the project KËF – élektro Balkans. Milena has also been singing for 15 years in the Cie Henri AGNEL, which explores medieval and contemporary Mediterranean repertoires and with which she tours in France and abroad.

In 2017, she co-founded the SIBYLLES TRIO with Françoise ATLAN and Milena ROUDEVA, and in 2019 the “MUSTAAR” voice and percussion duo, with Malik ADDA. That same year, she was chosen by Simon-Pierre BESTION, founder, and artistic director of the company LA TEMPÊTE, as soloist in traditional singing for his creation “Prophet(s)/Jerusalem” sponsored by the Festival of Saint-Denis and the Basilica of Vézelay.

In 2020, the BALKANES quartet of which she is the driving force, is chosen by ANDRÉ MANOUKIAN to  sing on the new CD of the jazzman heart and to perform with him on tour from 2022.

In February 2021, the DUO SOURCIÈRES, songs of women from East and West, was born, with Els JANSSENS-VANMUNSTER, singer and artistic director of the MORA VOCIS Ensemble.

Milena composes and arranges for all these ensembles, co-animates vocal workshops for all audiences in France, Italy and Switzerland, teaches Bulgarian singing at the International Institute of World Music ( and offers vocal and scenic coaching to beginners and experienced singers (graduated from Harmoniques, Paris.)

Discography:                                                  Publications:

BALKANES « Ochté », 2003                      « La Bulgare », roman, Hello Editions, 2022

BALKANES « Kœsmet », 2012

Cie HENRI AGNEL « Los Kaminos », 2014

BALKANES « Séfarades », 2016

A. MANOUKIAN « Anouch », 2022