Maxim Eshkenazy & America for Bulgaria present

Fortissimo Fest

Fortissimo Fest 2011 Programme

Music Under The Starry Sky, Sofia - free entrance

Classical music, Bulgarian folklore and favorite movie scores
September 10, Sofia, Open stage in front of the National Theater, 19:30

Music Under The Starry Sky, Plovdiv - free entrance

Classical music, Bulgarian folklore and favorite movie scores
September 17, Plovdiv, Antic Theater, 20:00

Fire Strings: Sarah Chang plays Sibelius

October 26, hall 1 of the National Palace of Culture, 19:30

Brass adventures with Mr. Brass - free entrance

October 28, Sofia Art Gallery, 19:30

Music Pictures - free entrance

October 29, Sofia Art Gallery, 19:30

Guitar Stories

November 04, Sofia Live Club, 19:30

Jazzy Smiles and Roma Rhythms

November 05, Sofia Live Club, 19:30

Voices From Over The Ocean

November 06, hall 3 of the National Palace of Culture, 19:30

Tickets from and in the National Palace of Culture

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The Festival

Fortissimo Fest 2011 will offer an exquisite mix of 8 unforgettable musical evenings.

The second edition of the festival spans between September 10 and November 6. The audience will be fascinated to meet the young, world famous violin player Sarah Chang. Also taking part in Fortissimo Fest 2011 are some of the finest voices of American opera and gospel music, an amazing band combining jazz and exotic Roma rhythms, a virtuoso guitar trio and some of Bulgaria’s most talented chamber musicians.

Fortissimo Fest 2011 will present a more detailed picture of the Bulgarian and American culture, as this year it focuses on the colorful ethnic palette in each of the two countries. Prominent artists of different ethnic groups will perform together, and it is through diversity that Fortissimo Fest 2011 will once again celebrate music - an art that knows no borders and unifies people. Fortissimo Fest 2011 stands for tolerance and understanding.

Fortissimo Fest 2011 will donate 100% of its ticket sales income to the educational programme “Fortissimo in the classroom” for the 2011-2012 school season.

Maxim Eshkenazy

Maxim Eshkenazy will open the 2011/2012 musical season with the second edition of Fortissimo Fest. This year the festival organized by Maestro Eshkenazy and the America for Bulgaria Foundation presents a unique mixture of different sounds in 8 evenings. The star of Fortissimo Fest 2011 is the world famous violin player Sarah Chang; other American guests are Janice Chandler Eteme and Kevin Deas - two of the finest American voices singing opera and gospel music.

The audience will once again be charmed by the combination of a Bulgarian folklore ensemble backed by a symphonic orchestra conducted by Mr. Eshkenazy. The programme of the festival also includes movie score favorites, two concerts in the Sofia Art Gallery, jazz and ethnic music.

Apart from the mission to bring closer the cultures of Bulgaria and USA, Maxim Eshkenazy is fully devoted to another cause - introducing classical music to young children. The educational programme “Fortissimo in the classroom” was initiated by Mr. Eshkenazy in 2011. As a way to partly finance the educational programme, Fortissimo Fest donates 100% of its ticket sales income to “Fortissimo in the classroom”.

In the United States of America, where Mr. Eshkenazy lives and works, he serves as Music Director and Conductor to Pacific Symphony Youth Orchestra. In 2011 the Orchestra made its first tour in Maxim’s homeland Bulgaria.

In 2009 Maxim Eshkenazy made a highly successful tour of South Korea as Music Director and conductor of the Bakersfield Youth Symphony Orchestra.

As assistant conductor of the Music Director of Pacific Symphony Carl St. Clair, Maxim will continue to be deeply involved and conduct The Family Music Mornings, and Class Act Youth Concerts. Education programs of Pacific Symphony that musically changes the lives of more than twenty five thousand kids a year. Mr. Eshkenazy is exceedingly proud of this projects and his musical live and soul are also change by the interaction with the students!

Mr. Eshkenazy is also Music Director of Colburn Chamber Orchestra and Orchestra De Camera in the Colburn Conservatory of Music.

America For Bulgaria

The America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF) assists in the development and growth of a vibrant private sector in Bulgaria, helping the country to realize its full potential as a successful, modern European nation. Established in 2008, the Foundation is the successor of the Bulgarian-American investment fund, created by the United States Government through the American agency for international development. The grants that America for Bulgaria Foundation provides are a way to promote the friendly relations between the American and Bulgarian people.

The mission of America for Bulgaria Foundation in the field of arts and culture is to achieve a higher recognition and demand for Bulgarian art both nationally and internationally, to encourage talented people from Bulgaria to perform outside the country and to work for the international cultural image of Bulgaria. Fortissimo Fest is a way for the foundation to give the Bulgarian audience the opportunity to meet some of the best examples of the American art and culture.


Sofia Festival Orchestra

In the end of 1991 in Sofia, conductor Alipi Naydenov and professor Boyan Lechev founded the Club of Bulgarian friends of the Academia Chigiana with a group of Bulgarian musicians. The Sofia Festival Orchestra was initially founded as the orchestra of that club and was first called Sofia Symphony (renamed in 1998).

Through the years, the Sofia Festival Orchestra developed its concert activities mostly during the summer months when it participated in the conductor courses of Academia Chigiana in Sienna, Italy. Highlights in the performances of Bulgarian orchestras include the names of soloists as Salvatore Arcado - violin, Franco Guli - violin, Leonid Cogan - violin, Bruno Gurana - viola, Andre Navara - cello, Franco Petraki - bass, Severino Gazeloni - flute, Nikanor Zabaletta - harp, Katya Richarelli - soprano, Cecilia Gazdia - soprano and many more.

Bulgarian orchestras are also working to popularize Bulgarian music in concert. Along with playing the works of composers Pancho Vladigerov, Petko Staynov, Marin Goleminov, Krasimir Kyurkchiiski, many Bulgarian soloists have played with the Sofia Festival Orchestra - Rositza Koeva - flute, Emil Kamilarov - violin, Mincho Minchev - violin, Svetla Slavcheva - piano, Bogdana Peneva - cello, Vladislav Grigorov - horn, etc.

Concerts of the Sofia Festival Orchestra have been conducted mainly by its Chief conductor Alipi Naydenov. Guest conductors include Pierre Belugi, Luciano Berio, Ferdinand Leitner, Genadiy Rojdestvensky, Bruno Bertoleti, Maurizio Dones, Gianluigi Gelmetti among others.

The Sofia Festival Orchestra has performed in Athens, Greece, at the International Festival for music and arts in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

The Orchestra has released CDs with the works of D.Nenov, H. Berlioz, L. Bernstein, Fr. Schubert, E. Grig, N. Jommelli among others.

Mario Hossen

A Paganini reincarnation… The soloist with magnificent creativity interprets the famous violin concert of Paganini with superb sound, clear tone and vigor..." - Standart, Austria

"Hossen's lyrical reading bears out the composer's own evaluation of this work, with a rare depth of expression and dazzling passagework. His ardently simple presentation of the main themes, particularly the opening Adagio, goes to the heart and soloist and orchestra achieve a sympathetic partnership that does Bruch's Second Violin Concerto in D minor full justice…" - Music Teacher Magazine, USA

Mario HOSSEN is a virtuoso with an impressive style of performance, masterfully combines the classical approach with a filigree romantic expressiveness.

Mario Hosen began playing the violin in Bulgaria. He made his debut as soloist with Orchestra at the age of eight. His work with prominent performers and music pedagogues like Frischenschlager (Vienna), Gerard Poulet (Paris) lent an important impetus to his musical career.

He is a Soloist with international reputation. He has performed with orchestras including the English Chamber Orchestra, Bruckner Orchestra Linz, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Nord West Deutsche Rundfunk, Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra da Camera de La Scala di Milano, Sofia Radio Symphony Orchestra, Capella Istropolitana, Charlotte Philharmonic Orchestra, Orquesta Sinfonica del Estado de Mexico, Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra, Ankara Presidential Symphony Orchestra, Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra, Baltic Philharmonic, Budapest Philharmonic etc.

He has been met with a storm of applause in USA (Carnegie Hall), Austria (Konzerthaus Vienna, Brucknerhaus Linz), Italia, France (Salle Gaveau Paris), Switzerland (Victoria Hall Geneva, Tonhalle Zürich), Spain, Latvia, Turkey, Albania (UNESCO), Mexico, Hungary, Slovenia, China, Croatia, Russia, Serbia, and Japan. Hossen performs and records with such household names as Adrian Oetiker, Philippe Bernold, Jean Bernard Pommier, Gerard Caussé, Dong Suk Kang, Imants Resnis, Felix Carasco, Milena Mollova, Vladimir Fedossejev, Lior Schambadal, Hansjörg Schellenberger,

He is one of the most fascinating Paganini Performer of his generation. The concert appearances with all 6 Paganini Concerts and the 24 Capricci have been met with acclaim by critics and audience alike. The violinist is holder of many international prices and awards. He is founder of Orpheus Academy Orchestra and serves as artistic director of the International Music Academy Orpheus (organised by the New Bulgarian University Sofia in cooperation with universities and academies of Vienna, Basel, Madrid, Milan and Paris). He is Associated Professor in Sofia (New Bulgarian University) and in Madrid (Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía).

Hossen is Artist of the world leading string producer- Thomastik Infeld Vienna.

He plays the on 1749 “G. B. Guadagnini” violin, which has been lent to him by Austria National Bank.

Dr. Sarkis Baltaian

Dr. Sarkis Baltaian has gained an international reputation as a concert pianist, chamber musician, recording artist and pedagogue. He has been praised by critics for his “beautiful tone and ability to project even the most delicate pianissimos” and compared to George Gershwin and Oscar Levant for his performance of Gershwin’s Concerto in F. Dr. Baltaian made his Carnegie Hall Debut in 1999 and has performed extensively both as recitalist and concerto soloist with major orchestras throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Dr. Baltaian has been a top prize winner of various national and international competitions and has appeared as guest artist in numerous festivals including the Aspen International Music Festival, Holland Music Sessions, Bad Bertrich Klaviersommer, Pan Pacific Music Festival, Mammoth Lakes Music Festival, and Plovdiv International Chamber Music Festival. Dr. Baltaian has made recordings for Television and Radio Stations and has been featured in live concerts and interviews on NBC, NPR, KUSC- Los Angeles, K-Mozart- Los Angeles, WMFT-Chicago, Bulgarian National TV and Radio, Classic FM-Bulgaria among others.

A dedicated teacher, Dr. Baltaian’s students have won various national and international competitions and continue to establish themselves as respectable musicians. He is a fierce advocate for the music education of young musicians and has served on the piano faculty at the Pan Pacific Music Festival in Sydney, Australia, Mammoth Lakes Music Festival in California and as a chamber music coach for the Junior Chamber Music Series in Los Angeles. Dr. Baltaian is in demand as clinician and regularly presents Master Classes at Universities across the United States. He is frequently invited to adjudicate for such organizations as the Music Teachers National Association, Music Teachers Association of California, Junior Bach Festival and Southwestern Youth Music Festival.

Dr. Baltaian began to study piano at the age of four with Rositza Ivancheva at the “Dobrin Petkov” Music High School for gifted students in his native Bulgaria. He continued his education at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where he received the Bachelor of Music, Masters of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts Degrees under the direction of renowned pedagogue and concert artist John Perry who describes Dr. Baltaian as “a musical talent of genius quality”.

From 2002-2006, Dr. Baltaian served as the teaching assistant to Professor John Perry at the University of Southern California and was also a member of the piano faculty at the California State University, Los Angeles from 2005-2008.

Currently, Dr. Baltaian is an Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

National Folklore Ensemble “Philip Koutev”

The national folklore ensemble “Philip Koutev” was established in 1951 by the famous Bulgarian composer Philip Koutev. Its mission is to transform the long history of the traditional Bulgarian folklore culture on stage in the form of authentic, recreated or composed songs, dances, orchestral works, customs and traditions. Combined together, the arranged and composed songs by Philip Koutev and the dances by Margarita Dikova, a school that is a fundamental part of today’s ensembles throughout Bulgaria and the world was established. National Folklore Ensemble “Philip Koutev” manages to save, resurrect, broadcast and continue these old Bulgarian customs and traditions. For 59 years, the ensemble had over 6000 performances in Bulgaria, as well as Europe, Asia, Africa and America.

Georgi Andreev - composer

Born on March,24,1969 in Haskovo where he starts studying music.

In 1988 he completes studies in the State’s School of Folklore Music Shiroka Laka, majoring Gadulka folklore instrument. In 1990 he starts regular studies in the state Academy of Music “Pancho Vladigerov” in the class of composing with professor Aleksander Tekeliev which he completes with honors in  1997presenting Symphony #1.

1993 – Scholarship of the Union of Bulgarian Composers for a most promising young composer
1994.- Award "Alfred Shnihter" for a sonata for piano
2001г- Award "Maestro Dimitar Valchev" for music for the show “Dva sviata” (Two worlds)
2004-Award " Zlatno pero" of Classic FM radio
2004- Award "Musician of the year" for the show “Legendata” (“The legend”)
2004- Special Award of the national palace of culture arts parlor for “Friendship with no limits” project.
2005-Award of the Union of Bulgarian Composers “Golden staff” for symphonic arts.
2008-prizewinner of the competition for composing a piece on Hendel for the Bulgarian national Radio

Professional experience:
From 1992 to 1994 Georgi has been the Director of the representative orchestra and Professor of composing and orchestration in the State’s Folklore Music School in Shiroka Laka.
From 1994 to 1997Composer and Arrangement Master for the Bulgarian national radio
From 1994 to 2000 Director of the orchestra at the national folklore ensemble “Philip Koutev"
From 2000 until present chief director and vice chair of the National Folklore Ensemble Philip Koutev.

A more outstanding pieces:
Horo  - scherzo -скерцо "Kalushari"-1991
Klan Klan Dedoklan – musical for kids-1992
Sonata for piano, 1994                                                                                   
Symphony for a orchestra-1997
Plays for diverse formations and orchestras  ("Priunitsi concert")1999
Music to the show " Two Worlds"-2000
"Aramii" Choreography for symphonic orchestra-2001
Concert for clarinet and orchestra-2002
Music for the show" Legendata” 2002
Concert show "Divi iagodi"2003
Music and dance composition " Jar ot sartseto "2004
Concert for vocals and sympphonic orchestra -2005
Phoenix-Armenian symphony for strings orcehstra-(dedicated to the genocide of the Armenian people in  1915 г).-2008
Story of the horseman – piece for a symphonic orchestra 2009

More than  400 author’s songs and plays for orchestra, choir and soloists.
Vocal, keyboar, choir and chamber rmusic, etc

Sarah Chang

“Her gifts are at a level so removed from the rest of us that all we can do is feel the appropriate awe and then wonder on the mysteries of nature. The ancients would certainly have had Ms. Chang emerging fully formed from some Botticellian scallop shell.”

The New York Times

Sarah Chang is recognised as one of the world’s great violinists. Since her debut with the New York Philharmonic at the age of 8 she has performed with the greatest orchestras, conductors and accompanists internationally in a career spanning more than two decades. In 2012, she will have recorded exclusively for EMI Classics for 20 years.

Ms. Chang tours extensively throughout the year. Highlights in 2010/11 in the UK and the US include appearances with the London Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra (Washington), Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Pittsburgh and Detroit Symphony Orchestras. She will also perform in Norway, Romania, Austria, Canada, Poland and Denmark. Ms. Chang appears regularly in the Far East and returns to Seoul for concerts with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and to Guangzhou to perform with the Symphony Orchestra as part of the Asian Games Opening Festival.

In recital, Ms. Chang regularly travels internationally and her last season tour included visits to cities such as London, Zurich, Dublin, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Moscow and St. Petersburg. As a chamber musician, she has collaborated with such artists as Pinchas Zukerman, Wolfgang Sawallish, Yefim Bronfman, Leoif Ove Andsnes, Yo Yo Ma, the late Isaac Stern and members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.

Ms. Chang’s most recent recording for EMI Classics, performances of Brahms and Bruch violin concertos with Kurt Masur and the Dresdner Philharmonie was received to excellent critical and popular acclaim and was her 20th album for the label. Her 2007 recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons attracted international commendation, with BBC Music Magazine stating: “She has never made a finer recording.” She has also recorded Prokofiev Violin Concerto No.1 and Shostakovich Violin Concerto No.1 live with the Berliner Philharmoniker under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle, Fire and Ice, an album of popular shorter works for violin and orchestra with Placido Domingo conducting the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Dvorak concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis, as well as several chamber music and sonata discs with artists including pianists Leif Ove Andsnes and Lars Vogt.

In 2006, Ms. Chang was honored as one of 20 Top Women in Newsweek Magazine’s “Women and Leadership, 20 Powerful Women Take Charge” issue. In March 2008, Ms. Chang was honored as a Young Global Leader for 2008 by the World Economic Forum (WEF) for her professional achievements, commitment to society and potential in shaping the future of the world.

In 2005, Yale University dedicated a chair in Sprague Hall in Sarah Chang’s name. For the June 2004 Olympic games, she was given the honor of running with the Olympic Torch in New York, and that same month, became the youngest person ever to receive the Hollywood Bowl’s Hall of Fame award. Also in 2004, Ms. Chang was awarded the Internazionale Accademia Musicale Chigiana Prize in Sienna, Italy. She is a past recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, Gramophone’s “Young Artist of the Year” award, Germany’s “Echo” Schallplattenpreis, “Newcomer of the Year” honors at the International Classical Music Awards in London, and Korea’s “Nan Pa” award. Ms. Chang has been named the US Embassy’s Artistic Ambassador from 2011.

The Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra

The Sofia Philharmonic, the oldest established symphony orchestra in Bulgaria, was founded in 1928, on the initiative of the renowned violinist, conductor and pedagogue Prof. Sasha Popov. The creative development of the orchestra is related to the names of the outstanding Bulgarian conductors Konastantin Iliev, Dobrin Petkov, Vladi Simeonov Dimiter Manolov, Yordan Dafov, Emil Tabakov, and Julian Kovatchev, Нayden Todorov.

The Sofia Philharmonic organization has its own concert hall, the Bulgaria Concert Hall, where it unites the symphony orchestra of 120 musicians, the National Philharmonic Choir “Svetoslav Obretenov” of 80 singers, “Sofia” string quartet”- leader Angel Stankov, and various other chamber formations.

Since May 2002 General Director of the Sofia Philharmonic is  Mr. Yavor Dimitrov - pianist and composer, Principal conductor is Alexei Kornienko from Austria, / since 2009/ ,Conductor is  Martin Panteleev / since 2009/, who lives in Germany. Conductor of the National Philharmonic choir is Luba Pesheva.

The Sofia Philharmonic has worked with many celebrated guest conductors and soloists including Herman Abendrott, Kurt Masur, Gennady Rozhdestvensky, Igor Markevic, Yuri Temirkanov, Gyorgy Lehel, Karl Osterreicher, Jean-Bernard Pomier, Carlo Zechi, Mstislav Rostropovich, Neville Marriner, Uros Lajovic, Leonid Kogan, Alexis Waisenberg, Svyatoslav Richter, Andrew Marriner, Julian Rachlin, Alexander Knyazev, Bernd Glemzer to name a few.
The Sofia Philharmonic’s repertoire covers a wide spectrum of music - from the popular classics to the latest in contemporary pieces, but giving special prominence to works by Bulgarian composers. In recent years, the Orchestra’s programmes have contained a significant emphasis on large - scale symphonic works and they have performed the complete cycles of works by Bruckner, Mahler, and Beethoven, and the most important works of Scriabin, Rachmaninov and R. Strauss, and since 2002 the new management of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra realizes premiere performances in Bulgaria of important pieces of music of new symphonism of Penderetski, B.Martinu, A.Roussel, N.Rota.

The Sofia Philharmonic has a busy touring schedule- successful tours   in USA, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taipei, Morocco, Spain, France, England, Turkey, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Greece, Portugal, Malta and so on.

The Sofia Philharmonic has realized a lot of records of compact discs for Balkanton /Bulgaria/, Elan /USA/Capriccio /Delta / Germany/, Mega-Music/Bulgaria/ Pentagon /Holland/ Gega-New/Bulgaria/, as follows:
Mahler - All symphonies - 15 CD set/ Capriccio /Delta, Brahms - all Symphonies and Overtures, German Requiem, Richard Straus - Alpine Symphony,
Rimsky-Korsakov - Shecherazada, Scriabin - all Symphonies,
Beethoven - all Piano concertos, Bartok – Concerto for orchestra, 
The Miraculous Mandarin, Verdi  - Requiem, Highlights from Il Trovatore, Rigoletto, Un Ballo in Maschera, La Forza del Destino and others.

Since 2005 started successfully the realization of long-term project of recording of film music together with the Austrian company   Image Performing Arts Promotion GmbH.
Sofia Philharmonic realized successfully projects with national media BNT (Bulgarian National Television), BNR (Bulgarian National Radio), BTV, Nova TV etc., concert programs and musical films.  

Mr. Brass

Mr. Brass is a brass octet, formed in 2010 by Peter Makedonski and Krassimir Kostadinov. The two enthusiastic musicians were backed up by the talented Bulgarian composer Rumen Boyadzhiev-son, who wrote pieces designated for the newly formed chamber ensemble. The idea to form the octet was hatched three years ago, when Kostadinov and Makedonski decided they wanted to play quality chamber music to entertain and please the audience.

Mr. Brass are: Peter Makedonski - trumpet, Krassimir Kostadinov - horn, Encho Yanchev - horn, Dimiter Stoev - trombone, Kiril Zafirov - bass trombone, Todor Bakardzhiev - trumpet, Kiril Makedonski - trumpet and Bayou Staev - tube.

The repertoire of the octet consists mainly of Bulgarian music. The musicians insist on this, and if by any chance they play music by a foreign composer, they use Bulgarian arrangements. Mr. Brass is lucky to work with Rumen Boyadzhiev on the arrangements. The energetic formation is spreading fresh and positive emotion to the audience every time they play.

Sofia Quartet

Sofia Quartet - Angel Stankov (violin), Nikolay Gagov (violin), Valentin Gerov (viola), Jeffrey Dean (cello)

All the members of the Sofia Quartet are prominent chamber musicians. The repertoire of the Quartet includes classical Vienna pieces and modern music, some of which is written especially for the ensemble. Their concerts are often televised and always spark media attention.

Angel Stankov has graduated from the Bulgarian State Music Academy. As a soloist, chamber player, concertmaster of the Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor, he takes active part in Bulgarian music life. Since 1996 he is professor in the Bulgarian State Music Academy “Pancho Vladiguerov” and since 1999 - its deputy rector. He has played in most European countries, as well as in the USA, Russia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and Cuba. In a musical partnership with his fellow violinist Yosif Radionov that spanned over 25 years, the duo has won multiple prizes.

In the words of lord Yehudi Menuhin “Angel Stankov is not only a promising violinist, he has great sensuality and nobleness of the nature, that distinguish the true musician”.

Nikolay Gagov has graduated from the Bulgarian State Music Academy. Since 1973 he plays the second violin in the quartets “Valchev”, “Sliven”, “BNR”, Sofia Quartet and Dimov Quartet. He has specialized in the string quartet with professor Vilmos Tatrai, professor Franz Samoil, professor Rudolph Nel and professor Joseph Calvet. Gagov is laureate of many international music contests. Since 1988 he is professor of chamber music at the Bulgarian State Music Academy.

The violist Valentin Gerov is laureate of many contests in Bulgaria and abroad. In 1991-92 he specialized in Stuttgart with the Melos quartet. Recognized as a notable chamber artist, he has played with many distinguished ensembles, has many recordings for the radio and TV, and also plays as a jazz musician. Various composers dedicated their works to him. In 1995 he was awarded the Musician of the Year award for his concert activities. He teaches viola in the Bulgarian State Music Academy.

The American cellist Jeffrey Dean, who lives in Sofia since 1992, is known across Europe and North America. In 1989 he founded the Ravnopolska-Dean duo, and in 1997 he becomes part of the Dimov string quartet. He has graduated from the Music University of Indiana, where he studied chamber music with Rostislav Dubinski. He is laureate of the National Music Federation (USA), Obretenov (Bulgaria) and other competitions. He is founding member of the music faculty of the American University Bulgaria, where he also works as a coordinator of the Fine Arts program.


Triada combines the unique talents of Nikola, Petar and Vasil Chekardzhikov, forming one of the most brilliant guitar ensembles now performing. The three brothers are individually virtuoso guitarists, and their intuitive sense of ensemble gives a synergy that makes their concerts very special and exciting events. Performances by Triada feature innovative repertoire, including traditional classics, modern favorites, and vibrant, colorful ethnic music to engage and delight any audience. Programs usually include powerful works that composers have written specifically for this superlative ensemble.

The three are former members of the guitar quartet “Four of a Kind” with their sister Petya. A heavy schedule of concerts, TV and radio appearances in Bulgaria led to concert tours in Europe from 1994 to 1996. Since coming to the United States, the trio has performed at some of the most prestigious concert series and classical guitar forums in the country. Their CDs is regularly aired in over 100 radio stations in the US.

The brothers studied guitar from early childhood with professor Ljuben Haralambiev in Varna, Bulgaria. In America they completed graduate studies at Cal State Fullerton with David Grimes. They have also worked in master classes with internationally known guitarists such as Scott Tennant, Bill Kanengiser, Roland Dyens, Maximo Diego Pujol, Assad Brothers, among others.


Three years ago a new project got some of the best Roma musicians in Bulgaria together with some of the finest jazz musicians. This colorful artistic combination is called RomaNeno.

For the second edition of Fortissimo Fest, RomaNeno will play songs from their upcoming debut album - “Taj Mahala”, as well as authentic Roma folk melodies, songs by Shaban Bayramovich and their own compositions - all in the fresh jazzy arrangements of Misho Yossifov.

Neno Iliev (vocal, accordion) received his first accordion when he was five, as a birthday present from his father. Soon it was clear he also had the talent to be a singer. When he was 16 years old the self-taught musician released his first album together with the famous Roma musician Angelo Malikov.

Boril Iliev (tenor saxophone) plays the saxophone for more than 25 years. He is also writer of the only instrumental piece in the “Taj Mahala” album - “Eurovision”.

Mihail Yossifov (trumpet) is one of the most successful Bulgarian jazz musicians. He and his trumpet have been inseparable for the last 24 years. Misho is also a composer and music arranger who participates in different projects and writes music for movies and theatre plays.

Velislav Stoyanov (trombone) is one of the founders of the bands Infinity and the Brazz Association. He has played around the world with the bands Wickeda, Caffe, Hipodil, and is currently a part of the Mihail Yossifov sextet, Dirty Purchase and Tumbaito.

Vassil Spassov (piano) started as a student in the school of drum instruments of professor Dobri Paliev. He has graduated from the National Musical School “L. Pipkov” and the National Music Academy “Pancho Vladigerov”. He has specialized at the Berklee College of Music, where he studied piano and composition of movie scores.

Georgi Donchev (bass) is famous with his taking part in different music projects. He has lived in the USA for 10 studied at Berklee College of Music. Since 1989 he is member of the band “Akustichna versia”. He has worked with some of the coolest ladies in the Bulgarian music scene - Andronia Popova (Nasekomix) and Arabel Karayan (Tripple A).

Ventsislav Radev (drums) is member of RomaNeno since the creation of the band. Before that Ventsi, whos first teachers are Dimitar Dimitrov and Hristo Yotsov, plays in the band of Martin Lubenov “Jazzta Prasta” and works with Martin in his orchestra.

Janice Eteme

In summer 2010 Janice Chandler-Eteme had great success as Bess in Gershwin's Porgy and Bess with the Opera de Lyon in Lyon, Edinburgh and London, one of several recent forays into opera. She was Clara in the Dallas Opera production of the same opera and sang Donna Elvira in Mozart's Don Giovanni with the National Philharmonic at Strathmore. Versatility has been the hallmark of the American lyric soprano who continues to sing an astonishing range of literature. Her current season includes Strauss' Four Last Songs with the Reading and Utah Symphonies; Brahms' Requiem with the Jacksonville Symphony, Elijah with the Modesto Symphony, Mahler's Second Symphony with the San Diego and Nashville Symphonies; and Philip Glass'Passion of Ramakrishna with the Pacific Symphony.

Recent seasons have included Mahler #2 with Jahja Ling and the Cleveland Orchestra, Gilbert Kaplan and the Cincinnati Symphony, Keith Lockhart and the Utah Symphony, Carl St. Clair and the Pacific Symphony, Jeffrey Kahane and the Colorado Symphony, Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony (PBS telecast), Yuri Temirkanov and the Baltimore Symphony and Rome's Santa Cecilia Orchestra; Haydn's Die Schöpfung with Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony, Gilbert Levine and the Pittsburgh Symphony and David Loebel and the Memphis Symphony; Lokumbe's Dear Mrs. Parks with the Detroit Symphony (Naxos recording); the Brahms Requiem and orchestrated Schubert songs with Jahja Ling and the San Diego Symphony; Mahler's Eighth Symphony with Andreas Delfs and the Milwaukee Symphony and Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony; Beethoven #9 with the New Jersey Symphony under Neeme Järvi, Houston Symphony under Hans Graf, and Alabama Symphony under Justin Brown; and a return to the Baltimore Symphony for Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915 and the Brahms Requiem under Marin Alsop. She has sung Strauss’ Four Last Songs with Yuri Temirkanov and the Baltimore Symphony, Daniel Hege and the Syracuse Symphony, Stefan Sanderling and the Florida Orchestra and with Peter Oundjian at the Grand Teton Music Festival, and forged memorable collaborations with James Conlon and the Cincinnati Symphony and Gabriel Levine and the Pittsburgh Symphony (Haydn’s Die Schöpfung), and Andrew Litton and the Dallas Symphony (Tippett’s A Child of Our Time). She also made a French tour with the Orchestre National de la Pays de la Loire, performing Villa-Lobos’ Bachianas Brasileiras, No. 5 to unanimous acclaim.

Ms. Chandler-Eteme first gained international prominence as a favorite soloist of Robert Shaw. She has continued to work with many distinguished conductors in the years since, including Christoph von Dohnányi, Charles Dutoit, Claus Peter Flor, Carlos Kalmar, Yakov Kreizberg, Raymond Leppard, Christof Perick, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Vladimir Spivakov, Edo de Waart and Hugh Wolff, to name just a few. She has been guest soloist with the Los Angeles and Saint Paul Chamber Orchestras; Boston, NHK (Japan), Vancouver, Phoenix, Kansas City and Santa Rosa Symphonies; Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Rochester Philharmonics; and Philadelphia Orchestra. Festival invitations include Bard, Grant Park, Aspen, Chautauqua, Prague Autumn and Blossom. Ms. Chandler-Eteme's recordings include an inspirational solo disc (Devotions), and the Dvorák Te Deum with Zdenek Mácal and the New Jersey Symphony, She holds degrees from Oakwood College and Indiana University and has studied with Virginia Zeani, Margaret Harshaw, Ginger Beazley and Todd Duncan.

Kevin Deas

Kevin Deas has gained international acclaim as one of America’s leading basses. Lauded for his “burnished sound, clarity of diction and sincerity of expression” and “fervent intensity” by Chicago Tribune critic John von Rhein, Deas has been variously called “exemplary” (Denver Post), “especially fine” (Washington Post) and possessing “a resourceful range of expression” (The Cincinnati Enquirer). He is perhaps most acclaimed for his signature portrayal of the title role in Porgy and Bess, having sung it with the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, National Symphony, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, San Francisco, Atlanta, San Diego, Utah, Houston, Baltimore and Montreal symphonies and the Ravinia and Saratoga festivals.

2011/12 brings repeat visits to the National Philharmonic, return engagements with Boston Baroque, Musica Sacra, Oratorio Society of New York and Princeton Pro Musica, as well as the Requiem by both Fauré and Mozart with the Vermont Symphony and a Dvorak program with the Buffalo Philharmonic and North Carolina Symphony.

Deas’ 2010/11 season highlights consisted of appearances with the Calgary Philharmonic in Porgy and Bess, Boston Baroque with Messiah, a Richmond Symphony Beethoven Symphony No. 9, St. John Passion at the Winter Park Festival, Philip Glass’ Passion of Ramakrishna with Pacific Symphony, Paukenmesse with Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional de Mexico and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the National Symphony of Costa Rica on occasion of the orchestra’s 70th anniversary.

During the 2009/10 season, Deas appeared in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Rochester and Buffalo philharmonics, Brahms Requiem with the Hartford Symphony, Messiah with the Minnesota Orchestra and Musica Sacra, and the Verdi Requiem with the symphonies of Grand Rapids and Vermont.

The 2008/09 season offered another snapshot of the continued demand Kevin Deas enjoys with the major orchestras in the US. He returned to the New York Philharmonic in Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges under Lorin Maazel, then sang in the world premiere of Derek Bermel’s The good Life with the Pittsburgh Symphony under Leonard Slatkin and was again heard in Hannibal Lokumbe’s Dear Mrs. Parks, this time with the Detroit Symphony. Other return engagements brought him to the Atlanta Symphony, Pacific Symphony, Virginia Symphony, Boston Baroque, Winnipeg Symphony, Modesto Symphony, National Philharmonic, The Discovery Orchestra and an appearance at the Winter Park Festival.

Other recent highlights include Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony under the baton of Daniel Barenboim with Filarmonica della Scala in Accra celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of Ghana, Copland’s Old American Songs and Mozart's Marriage of Figaro with the Chicago Symphony, Messiah with the Cleveland Orchestra, Brooklyn Philharmonic and Handel & Haydn Society, an opening performance at the Newport Jazz Festival with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Colorado Symphony and Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, and performances of Brubeck’s To Hope! in Salzburg and Vienna. He also sang at Lincoln Center's Mostly Mozart Festival and Carnegie Hall, Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius with the Chicago Symphony and Barenboim, Mozart’s Requiem with the Atlanta Symphony, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas with the Houston Symphony.

A strong proponent of contemporary music, Kevin Deas was heard at Italy’s Spoleto Festival in a new production of Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors in honor of the composer's eighty-fifth birthday, videotaped for worldwide release. His 20-year collaboration with Dave Brubeck have taken him to Salzburg, Vienna and Moscow in To Hope! and his Gates of Justice were presented in a gala performance in New York during the 95/96 season. He also performed Tippet's Child of our Time with the Vancouver Symphony and in 1992 debuted with the Chicago Symphony in a concert version of X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X by Anthony Davis, later repeated in New York and recorded.

Kevin Deas’ list of recordings is as varied as it is impressive: He has recorded for Decca/London Die Meistersinger with the Chicago Symphony under the late Sir Georg Solti and Varèse's Ecuatorial with the ASKO Ensemble under the baton of Ricardo Chailly. Other releases include Bach's B minor Mass and Handel's Acis & Galatea on Vox Classics and Dave Brubeck's To Hope! with the Cathedral Choral Society on the Telarc label.

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