The community centre in Oriahovo is one of the first in the country, founded in January, 1871, before the liberation of Bulgaria. It can be assumed that its library was also established at that time, as initially the activity of the community centre constituted the collection of books, and other activities followed later. In 1896 the community centre was given the name “Nadezhda” (“Hope”), which it bears nowadays as well. Its building is unique not only for Oriahovo but also for the country as a whole. The board of trustees started raising money for its construction in 1910, and having decided the money was enough, commissioned the renowned Bulgarian architects Tsolov and Vasilyov, both of them born in Oriahovo, to design the building. As a result, in 1935 the community centre was officially opened with a soiree.

Over the years the community centre has been in the centre of the preservation of Bulgarian traditions in general, and those of Oriahovo region, in particular. A number of amateur groups have worked there since its establishment. It was there that the opera prima Dochka Damyanova made her debut, as well as her colleague singer, Maria Pohachak, and the people’s actor Andrey Chaprazov, who was a versatile performer. The folk composer Diko Iliev lived and worked in the town for 42 years. Inspired by the Danube Valley, he wrote here his incomparable Danube Horo, with which Bulgaria meets the New Year after the President’s speech. What his main contribution was, was that he left behind a number of undying dances (hora) as in every village he established an orchestra he also wrote a dance composition. We are still discovering such compositions and we are now ready to publish 14 prepared by Conductor Kuzman Kuzmanov. Diko Iliev’s first dances were recorded performed by the military orchestra of railway forces. Our community centre took the initiative to release his unpublished works, and so far we have released 3 CDs. We are soon expecting a new CD with some of his unforgettable works to come out.

Each year a festival of brass orchestras is held in Oriahovo bearing the name of Diko Iliev. The 18th edition of this event was in 2014. At first the festival was held biannually or at 5 years, but for 10 years it has been an annual event. Brass orchestras from around the country and the cheerleaders attached to them are eager to participate in the festival at the end of August each year.

On its 100th anniversary in 1971 the community centre in Oriahovo was granted the Order of Cyril and Methodius, 1st degree, for its long work and its contribution to preserving traditions and boosting the patriotism of the local population.

The ensembles currently working in the community centre are, as follows: a brass orchestra with 23 members; a dance ensemble “Izvorche” with three groups – from 5-year-olds to 4th-graders, from 5th to 8th-graders, and high-school students and youth. There is also a group for authentic folk dances from Oriahovo and the region, two cheerleader groups, a female folk choir for a cappella singing with accompaniment, a group for old town songs, and a drama club. During the last 10 years, the community centre has participated in 21 EU-funded transboundary projects, the major one of which is “Youth in Action”. We are partners of a number of foundations and organizations in Romania. We have done something which does not exist anywhere else in Bulgaria, namely, that dance ensemble “Izvorche” has 15 compositions based on Diko Iliev’s music to the accompaniment of our brass orchestra. Besides, we have participated in a lot of festivals in Bulgaria and abroad – in Ukraine, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Poland, France, in order to present Oriahovo to the world.

Author: Hrizantema Racheva, Secretary of People’s Community Centre “Nadezhda” 1871, town of Oriahovo