For me it is always a privilege and a pleasure to conduct orchestras throughout Eastern Europe, promoting cultural exchange. American Music Festivals enjoys working with musicians and organizations in the United States and abroad to present concerts that lead to greater understanding and build lasting relationships. Our mission has taken us to world music centers like St. Petersburg, Prague, and Sarajevo . In this essay I want to tell you about my experiences in Bulgaria, and particularly with the Bulgarian people, with whom we share a special, and ongoing, cultural collaboration and friendship.
This time I arrived directly in Varna, Bulgaria ’s third city and a thriving cultural center. I was met at the airport by Christo Rachev, with whom I had worked seven years before. In addition to his career as a performing artist, he had become a successful concert promoter, and was planning to create a new multi-disciplinary festival in Varna. Our conversation, and his vision and “new” thinking, led the next summer to the first Varna International Arts Forum.
My third trip to Bulgaria was in August of 2009 at the invitation of Mr. Rachev. We had a great concert together with the Varna Chamber Orchestra that closed the first Varna International Arts Forum. In attendance was Ken Moskowitz, Counselor for Public Affairs, from the US Embassy in Sofia. Plans are underway for another collaborative orchestral event in Varna in 2011, which may also be linked with a program in Sofia. Our work in Bulgaria has just begun.
The idea of nonprofit giving, and community service, is somewhat new to our many Eastern European friends who have recently arrived in America. Yet the project was too important to delay, and we announced the collaboration between the Bulgarian American Heritage Center and American Music Festivals, and that the program would be given at Northeastern Illinois University, to commemorate the Holiday of the Founding of the Slavonic Language, on May 23, 2010.
The concert opened with the Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra performing my own arrangement of Dimitri Nenov’s Miniatures, and then the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 with Ms. Vassilenko as soloist. After intermission, the Bulgarian Dance Ensemble “HORO” took the stage, led by Irina and Todor Gochev, Artistic Directors and Chorographers, along with the Folk Orchestra “Kolorit” and soloist Temenushka Zhekova. The event also included a pictorial expression of the Slavonic Alphabet, by Bulgarian children in Chicago.
Tell us how to bring Sofia and Chicago closer.
Build a bridge between people and cultures.
Make Friends of Chicago a part of your life.