• In 2002 the women’s chorus KITKA from Oakland, California, visited Kremena. For some of their comments, check out Bulgarian Memories at their website.

• In the summer of 2001, a group of young women from YALE SLAVIC CHORUS attended Kremena’s school in the summer of 2001. Sarah Montante speaks for the group and describes what the program was like for them:

    In May 2001, the Yale Women’s Slavic Chorus joined Kremena for ten days of musical training and cultural adventure. Our apprehensions about traveling in a country whose language we didn’t know vanished at the airport, where Kremena met us with flowers and warm hugs. Her friends and family drove us from the Sofia airport to Kovachevtsi, about 45 minutes south of the city.
    The whole village seemed to have been waiting for us. When we arrived, we were greeted with more flowers and hugs by our host families and the mayor. The welcome was genuine. Our host families opened their homes and their hearts to us, sharing family pictures, memories, and songs.
    Our days began with a breakfast of rich, creamy yogurt, fruit, and tea. Then we would go to Kremena’s house, warm up, and begin work on a new song. By lunch, we would have the new song under our belts, except for the ornaments, which Kremena repeated with astounding patience. After lunch, we would nap or take a walk, then return to Kremena’s to review the morning’s song and begin work on another one. In the evenings, we traveled to see concerts and traditional dances. Afterwards, we were treated to a generous spread of Bulgarian food: banitsa, shopska salata, fresh baked bread, stuffed peppers, and endless sweets. After urging us to eat until we almost burst, the grandmothers would then lead us onto the dancefloor where their stamina exhausted us.
    We left Bulgaria with lots of music - both recorded and learned - but more importantly, we left with beautiful memories. My favorite is of an afternoon we spend in the Pirin mountains. We drove as high as we could in our vans, then parked them in a meadow. A more rugged truck hauled us up the steep and rocky path to the summit, past mountain lakes and wild flowers. We spent the afternoon in an upper clearing, learning “Lale Li Si” from Kremena while her sister gathered herbs for our salad and a friend roasted fresh fish. The afternoon concluded with a delicious picnic and a leisurely walk down the mountain. I had the sense that I had entered the landscape of the music. It was a sense shared by everyone in our group, and it was exactly what we came for.

Comments from some of the other participants:

    “We never, ever dreamed that our visit with you in Bulgaria would be so amazing and beautiful.”
    “You are such a warm, loving person. Thank you for making us a part of your family and teaching us so much!”
    “Thank you so much! The trip was more wonderful than I ever imagined.”
    “Thank you for taking such good care of us. I had a wonderful time.”
    “Ние ще винаги запомним вас! (Nie shte vinagi zapomnim vas!)
    We will always remember you!”