Bagpipe Society Logo
Promoting the Bagpipe Revival since 1986

The Bagpipe Society

Travels with a Gaida

Mike Billington with one of his gaida tutors, Cvetelin Andreev

If anyone knows Mike Billington, either in person or from his Facebook page or website (, then you will know that he is something of a collector of bagpipes. I’m not sure what his total is up to now but it must be about 20 different types and the number seems to be growing at a steady rate! He took collection of a tsabouna from Yannis Pantazis just this week.

A true bagpipe enthusiast, Mike arrived back from a visit to Bulgaria this summer and within a couple of hours of landing back home (literally), he sent me some photos of his trip. Good man! Mike travelled to Bulgaria with the express purpose of improving his playing on the gaida and kaval. He was there for the inaugural Koprivishtitsa Festival based in Dolen, in the south of the country. Theodosil Spassov (kaval) was the headline act and there were many other gaida and kaval players there. Mike reports that it is hoped that the festival will become an annual event. In the meantime, he achieved his aim of improving his playing as he was able to attend a number of classes throughout his week long stay. He was taught by several expert players on djura and kaba gaida as well as kaval.

Nicolai Belyavski (left), maker of kaba gaida, together with other players as part of one of the processions
Petyo Kostadinov, gaida and Simeon Dimitrov – kaval. Both teachers over the week.