Photo: Timothy Rice and UCLA guests in the foyer of the Bulgarian Presidency; from left to right: Radka Varimezova, Angela Rodel, Ivan Varimezov, Timothy Rice, Tzvetanka Varimezova, Tanya Varimezova, and Russell Schuh.
On Friday, June 27, 2008, Professor Timothy Rice, Director the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music and Professor in the Department of Ethnomusicology, received a medal called the “Order of Saints Cyril and Methodius, second degree” from Bulgaria’s President Georgi Purvanov in a ceremony at the Presidency in Sofia.
According to the president’s proclamation, Rice received the award for his “significant contributions to the scientific study of Bulgarian folklore and his popularization of Bulgarian culture in the United States of America.” Saints Cyril and Methodius were Greek missionaries who invented the Cyrillic alphabet as part of their effort to Christianize the South Slavs. A number of awards in their name are given each year around May 24th, the Bulgarian Day of Culture and Slavic Literacy, to important cultural figures and occasionally to foreigners.
Attending the ceremony from UCLA were Adjunct Assistant Professors Ivan and Tzvetanka Varimezovi, who direct UCLA’s Balkan Music Ensemble class (Ethnomus 91/161C), and their daughters Radka and Tanya; Ph.D. candidate Angela Rodel, currently conducting fieldwork on Bulgarian traditional singing; and Russell Schuh, professor in the Linguistics Department and clarinetist in the Balkan ensemble. To celebrate the award, Rice and the Varimezovs led the UCLA Balkan ensemble (a group of 30 UCLA students, faculty, and alumni) on a ten-day tour of Bulgaria during which they performed on a number of popular television shows; gave a gala televised concert with three Bulgarian ensembles at the National Palace of Culture; and met with numerous professional and amateur folk ensembles, musicians, and singers.
Their trip was sponsored by grants from four UCLA organizations: Summer Sessions; the Office of Instructional Development; the Center for European and Eurasian Studies; and the Herb Alpert School of Music Student Opportunity Fund. Rice, in addition to hosting and sponsoring dozens of residencies for Bulgarian musicians and scholars in North America during the last thirty years, has written many academic articles and two well-reviewed books on Bulgarian music: May It Fill Your Soul: Experiencing Bulgarian Music (University of Chicago Press, 1994) and Music in Bulgaria: Experiencing Music, Expressing Culture (Oxford University Press, 2004).