As posted by Mariana Lazos on the website https://www.plans.com.mx/musicos-de-la-ofj-gergana-marinova/?
ART & CULTURE
Musicians of the OFJ: Gergana Marinova
Bulgarian-born Gergana Marinova is the only woman ever to have performed on Double Bass as part of theOrquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco up to today. Let’s discover her story!
(Have you seen a Double Bass? It’s not just a “big cello”; it’s a unique instrument in the String family).
Gergana Marinova comes from the coast of the Black Sea in Bulgaria. As a youngster, she accompanied her younger sister to piano class, and there she came to know the Double Bass.
“One day, the piano teacher wanted to show me [the string bass], she handed me a bow and I held it correctly. She was very, very surprised. I began to play the string bass and I let it take me wherever it wanted to go.” Marinova was nine years old.
In those days, downsized string basses for children didn´t exist, so in order to play, little Gergana had to sit up on a high stool--but she did have an advantage: she was taller than most boys and girls of her age.
I asked her how it happened that a little girl had chosen such a large instrument, and she replied: “I believe the instrument chose me because I was very young and unaware; I hadn´t even known that such an instrument existed in this world.”
In her fourth grade year of elementary education, Gergana Marinova began to attend a school where music education was offered in addition to the standard curriculum.
When she finished high school, she thought she would study journalism or history, but in the end, music won out. “I enjoyed it, I did it well, and it allowed me to go with the flow.” She studied for a music career in the National Music Academy “Prof. Pancho Vladigerov” in Sofía, her country´s capital.
The contrabassist has lived in the Czech Republic, Portugal, Singapore, and Malaysia, her husband´s native land. She and Anani Donev (bassoonist) had always wanted to perform in the same orchestra.
It was their search for another orchestra, with the goal of remaining together, which brought them to Guadalajara. After almost half a year of living in Malaysia while playing in separate orchestras, they decided that it was time to look for a new option.
The couple wanted to remain in Asia or the Middle East. “I looked at the map of the world and when I saw the American continents, I said ‘no sense looking there.’” A few months later, a friend invited them to audition for an orchestra in Mexico. It was the OFJ and there were openings for both musicians.
Gergana and Anani arrived in Guadalajara on January 11, 2008. They began with a 6-month probationary contract and now they have been in this city for more than 11 years. “Something magical happened because our six months trial period was up and we didn’t even think about looking for anything else; we immediately decided to stay.
A Female Double Bass Player
Gergana Marinova is the first woman to perform in the Orquesta Filarmónica de Jalisco on the Double Bass in the 104 years that the orchestra has existed. Yes, you read that right. 104 years!
For Marinova, that a woman could play the string bass always seemed rather normal: her first teacher was a woman, and in Bulgaria there were many girls who played the instrument. “For me this wasn’t something that only boys did. Later, when I finished my bachelor’s and master’s degrees with male professors, I hadn’t felt such discrimination then, either,” she told me.
It wasn’t until she left Bulgaria that she crashed into another reality, a reality she calls “ridiculous, male chauvinist and discriminatory.” There are almost no women who play the contrabass and those who do aren’t seen in a favorable light. For example, while she was living in the Czech Republic, there were only two women who played the instrument in the entire country (including her). “In Mexico it’s fairly similar; here the double bass is seen as an instrument played by men, and the string bass section, a section of men only.”
“I imagine that even though emancipation [of women] has been part of our lives for many decades, the world still wants to define femininity in terms of a masculine world view.”
For Marinova, this is a result of patterns and prejudices from the past that we haven´t yet changed. In any case, she is firm in her position: “Nowadays I don´t find it an issue, and if people think it´s for men, well, that´s their problem.”
Performing on the contrabass has had its challenges for the Maestra, on account of this situation as well as the characteristics of the instrument. “It´s not easy either to carry or to play an instrument like this, given the physiological constraints, but I like difficult things.”
In the final analysis, she told me, all of the aforementioned has become a part of her and she likes her instrument very much. “I can do everything on the double bass: cry, love, hate, scream, abandon it and then embrace it and do everything I like; it´s never said no.”
Gergana Marinova in the OFJ
For the contrabassist, being in the OFJ is a very intense job, because each week, the program changes and the director changes. Teamwork is very important because “creating something beautiful doesn´t depend on the individual; it depends on everyone.”
She doesn´t have any favorite composers or favorite pieces. She likes any work that is performed well. Some of the works she has most enjoyed playing include the Elgar Enigma Variations, the Symphony No. 35 “Haffner” by Mozart, and Bizet´s Carmen.
Life in Guadalajara
When Marinova arrived in Guadalajara, she didn´t speak Spanish, but knew French, Portuguese, and Italian. “Just by combining I understood everything and people could understand me, too.” She learned Spanish, her ninth language, quickly.
She liked the climate in Mexico, where there´s always sunshine, and the cuisine: “for a vegetarian it´s paradise to have fresh fruit and vegetables all year long.” However, what really caught her attention was the people: “very warm, very sweet, very human, and very empathetic.”
Today, Gergana Marinova has already become a Mexican citizen. Guadalajara has become her home. Here, her second child (a daughter) was born, and here she found her new passion: music therapy. “It´s a fusion of everything I´ve done over my lifetime, music, and my ability to be intuitive, empathetic and observant,” she told me.
Her favorite places are found where there is fresh air and green space. Marinova and her family are frequent visitors to the Bosque de la Primavera, the Guachimontones, Mazamitla, and Ajijic. In the city, the love to visit parks and ride bikes and scooters, and to visit the Museo Raúl Anguiano.
All along the way, the string bass has guided her: under its impulse she has lived in different countries, met her husband and found her passion. “HE’s at fault for everything that has happened in my life,” Marinova said to me while pointing at her contrabass.
Stay tuned because you will be able to hear and see Gergana Marinova in the OFJ during its Third 2019 Orchestra Season. We´ll know all the details very soon!
We thank Centro de Artes Suzuki for its support, including the facilities it provided for the realization of these interviews.