Off The Beaten Path


Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Lora Tchekoratova, piano

Lora Tchekoratova


Born in Sofia, Lora Tchekoratova began playing the piano at the age of four, and soon became a student of the legendary pedagogue Lydia Kuteva. She gave her first solo recital at the age of nine at the Lyubomir Pipkov National Music School, where she received her basic music education. In Bulgaria, she also studied with Vessela Marinova and Prof. Jenny Zaharieva.

In 1992, on the advice of Prof. Zaharieva, Lora continued her education at The Juilliard School in New York. She received her Bachelor's, Master's and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees as a student of Seymour Lipkin, becoming the first Bulgarian to receive a doctorate from Juilliard. Her dissertation is dedicated to the piano works of Dimitar Nenov. While a student, she won a number of scholarships and awards, including First Prize at the Washington International Piano Competition. Her solo debut at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC has been followed by recitals, chamber concerts and festival appearances on some of the most prestigious stages in the United States and Europe.

Lora Tchekoratova is a renowned performer of virtuoso piano music from the 19th and 20th centuries. Her extensive repertoire includes numerous chamber music works as well as compositions by the great composers of Eastern Europe. Lora has recorded numerous times for radio and television in the United States, Finland, Sweden, and Bulgaria. In 2005, together with other notable Bulgarian musicians and the American Foundation for Bulgaria, she co-created the Bulgarian Concert Evenings in New York concert series at the Consulate General of Bulgaria in New York, whose organization she has led for seventeen seasons. Lora teaches at Mannes Prep at the New School in New York and is the Artistic Director of the Salon de Virtuosi. She is the Chair of the Off the Beaten Path Foundation since 2018.

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Georgy Valtchev, violin

Georgy Valtchev


Georgy Valtchev has performed on some of the world’s most prestigious stages as a soloist with orchestras, in recitals and as a chamber musician. In the United States, he has appeared at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the 92nd Street Y in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, and the Chicago Cultural Center. In Europe, he has performed at Wigmore Hall and the Barbican Centre in London, the Royal Theatre Carré in Amsterdam, and the Bulgaria Hall in Sofia. He has toured Asia, Australia and Israel, with performances at the Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Beijing Cultural Arts Center, the Guangzhou Opera House, the Sydney Opera House, the Taipei Cultural Center, and the Tel Aviv Opera House, among others.

A dedicated chamber musician, Mr. Valtchev enjoys frequent performances with distinguished international artists and ensembles in the United States and Europe, and has appeared in numerous festivals on both continents. Mr. Valtchev has been honored to lead, as guest concertmaster, several major symphony orchestras, most notably the London Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera of Madrid.

He is a founder and artistic director of the Off the Beaten Path Chamber Music Festival in Kovachevitsa, and a founding member of the Bulgarian Concert Evenings in New York chamber music series.

Born in Plovdiv, Georgy began his violin studies at the age of six with Boyanka Shopova. In Bulgaria, he also studied with Micho Dimitrov, Vladimir Vladigerov and Dora Ivanova. He received his basic music education at the state music schools in Plovdiv and Sofia. At sixteen, he won the Grand Prize of the Jaroslav Kocián International Competition for Young Violinists in then Czechoslovakia. After a short study at the Prof. Pancho Vladigerov National Music Academy in Sofia, Georgy was accepted as a student of Professor Dorothy DeLay and Masao Kawasaki at The Juilliard School in New York, where he completed his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees. He has been honored with a number of awards, including the First Prize of the Ducrest International Competition (USA), and the Special Prize of the Tibor Varga International Violin Competition (Switzerland).

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Nikola Takov, violin

Nikola Takov


Nikola Takov was born in Sofia, where he started playing the violin at the age of five, as a student of Boyanka Shopova. After graduating from the Lyubomir Pipkov National Music School, he continued his education at the Prof. Pancho Vladigerov National Music Academy in his native city, in the class of Professor Dora Ivanova. The same year, he was admitted with a full scholarship to Louisiana State University, in the class of Professor Kevork Mardirosyan, where he received a Bachelor's Degree in Performing Arts in Violin. He continued his education at the Boston University College of Fine Arts, in the class of Professor Yuri Mazurkevich, receiving a Master's degree and an Artist Diploma.

During his studies, Nikola participated in master classes with world-renowned musicians such as Ifra Niemann, David Seron, Joseph Silverstein, Camilla Weeks, Sergio Luca, Charles Casselman and Elmar Oliveira, gaining invaluable experience. He won a number of competitions and awards in Bulgaria and the United States, performing actively as a soloist and chamber musician.

Nikola Takov was a founding member of the Kalistos Chamber Orchestra (Boston, 2003), concertmaster of the Claflin Hill Symphony Orchestra, Massachusetts (2004-2009), and a member and acting assistant concertmaster of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra (2001-2003), the Portland Symphony Orchestra (2001-2009), and the Rhode Island Philharmonic (2001-2009). Since 2010, he is a member of the prestigious Orquesta Sinfónica de Navarra Pablo Sarasate in Spain. He is a founding member and first violinist of the Fluencias string quartet and La Cuerda de Oro chamber ensemble, actively concertizing in Spain and across Europe.

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Mariana Karpatova, mezzo-soprano

Mariana Karpatova


Born in Gotse Delchev, Mariana Karpatova graduated from the Lyubomir Pipkov Music School in Sofia. She continued her training as a student of Prof. Mati Pincas and Mila Dyulgerova at the Prof. Pancho Vladigerov National Music Academy in the Bulgarian capital, and later the Juilliard School Opera Center in New York.

While still a student at Juilliard, Mariana appeared on the Live from Lincoln Center broadcast of Maurice Sendak’s new production of Hänsel und Gretel in the dual role of the Mother and the Witch, and made an impressive debut as Rosa Mamai in L’arlesiana at the Sarasota Opera in the United States. She went on to make her Lincoln Center recital debut at Alice Tully Hall as the recipient of the Alice Tully Vocal Arts Debut Award.

Highlights of her opera appearances include Cuniza in Oberto at the Sarasota Opera, Mistress Quickly in Falstaff at the Michigan Opera, Magd in Elektra at the Metropolitan Opera, Alisa in Lucia di Lammermoor and Berta in The Barber of Seville at the New Jersey State Opera, Larina in Eugene Onegin at the Baltimore Opera, The Maid in Jenůfa and Cieska in Gianni Schicchi at The Spoleto Festival USA, Zita in Gianni Schicchi and The Princess in Suor Angelica at Opera Tampa, Brucha in The Woman at Otowi Crossing at the Opera Theater of St. Louis, Olga in Eugene Onegin at the Palm Beach Opera, Azucena in Il Trovatore at the Bulgarian National Opera, among others.

On the concert stage, Ms. Karpatova has appeared at the Lincoln Center in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, The Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, as well as with the National Symphony Orchestra of Mexico and other philharmonic orchestras.

In 2018, Mariana Karpatova co-founded the Off the Beaten Path Chamber Music Festival in Kovachevitsa, not far from her native Gotse Delchev. In addition to her artistic and organizational contribution to the festival, she has also initiated a number of music events for the public at large, as well as vocal training opportunities for young people in the region. She has also taken part in the campaign to restore the historic building of the cultural center in Kovachevitsa, and other charitable causes.

Ms. Karpatova is on the board of Opera at Florham in New Jersey, and the narrator for their opera concerts. In the 2021-22 season, she has appeared in the Opera at Florham Holiday Concert, the Bulgarian Concert Evenings in New York Gala Concert at Carnegie’s Weill Hall, as well as in their concert series. Her forthcoming engagements this year include debuting as Florence Pike in Albert Herring at the Princeton Festival, and an appearance with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.

Mariana Karpatova teaches at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Florham Campus, and in her own Mariana Voice Studio in Madison, NJ.

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Alexander Fiterstein, Clarinet

Alexander Fiterstein


Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein is considered one of today’s most exceptional artists. Clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein has performed in recitals, with distinguished orchestras, and with chamber music ensembles throughout the world. He won first prize at the Carl Nielsen International Clarinet Competition and received the prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant Award. The Washington Post has described his playing as “dazzling in its spectrum of colors, agility, and range. Every sound he makes is finely measured without inhibiting expressiveness”, and The New York Times described him as “a clarinetist with a warm tone and powerful technique.”

As soloist he has appeared with the Czech, Israel, Vienna, and St. Paul chamber orchestras, the Belgrade Philharmonic, the Danish National Radio Symphony, the Tokyo Philharmonic, the China National Symphony Orchestra, the KBS Orchestra of South Korea, the Jerusalem Symphony, the Orchestra of St. Luke’s at Lincoln Center, the Kansas City Symphony, and the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. He has performed in recital on the Music at the Supreme Court Series, the Celebrity Series in Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Kennedy Center, the Louvre in Paris, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, the Tel Aviv Museum, and NYC’s 92nd Street Y.

A dedicated performer of chamber music, Fiterstein frequently collaborates with distinguished artists and ensembles and regularly performs with the prestigious Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Among the highly regarded artists he has performed with are Daniel Barenboim, Yefim Bronfman, Mitsuko Uchida, Richard Goode, Emanuel Ax, Marc-Andre Hamelin, Pinchas Zukerman, and Steven Isserlis. Fiterstein performed with the Dover, Pacifica, Jerusalem, and Shanghai String Quartets, as well as with Ensemble Wien-Berlin. He spent five summers at the Marlboro Music Festival and appeared at the Caramoor, Moab, Music@Menlo, Montreal, Toronto, Jerusalem, and Storioni chamber music festivals.

Fiterstein is a founder of the Zimro Project, a unique ensemble dedicated to incorporating Jewish art music into chamber music programs. He performed as principal clarinet of the West-East Divan Orchestra at the invitation of Daniel Barenboim and has appeared as guest principal clarinetist with the Israel Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta, the KBS Symphony Orchestra with Yoel Levi, and with the St. Paul and Orpheus chamber orchestras.

Fiterstein has a prolific recording career and has worked with composers John Corigliano and Osvaldo Golijov and had pieces written for him by Samuel Adler, Mason Bates, Paul Schoenfield, and Chris Brubeck, among others. Fiterstein was born in Belarus and immigrated to Israel at the age of 2 with his family. A Juilliard graduate, he won first prize at the Young Concert Artists International Auditions and received awards from the America-Israel Cultural Foundation. He is Professor of Clarinet and Chair of Winds at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and a Buffet Crampon and Vandoren Performing Artist.

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Yousuke Kawasaki, violin

Yousuke Kawasaki


Yosuke Kawasaki currently serves as Concertmaster of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra. His versatile musicianship allows him to pursue a career in orchestra, solo and chamber music. His orchestral career began with the Montgomery Symphony Orchestra and soon led to Mito Chamber Orchestra, Saito Kinen Orchestra and Japan Century Orchestra all of which he led as Concertmaster. His solo and chamber music career spans five continents, collaborating with artists such as Seiji Ozawa, Pinchas Zukerman and Yo-Yo Ma and appearing in the world's most prestigious halls such as Carnegie Hall, Suntory Hall and The Royal Concertgebouw.

Kawasaki's current regular ensembles are Trio Ink and Quartet AT Mito. His passion for chamber music led to his appointment as Music Director to the Affinis Music Festival in Japan. He is also an artistic advisor to a new chamber music festival Off The Beaten Path in Bulgaria.

As an educator Kawasaki has given masterclasses and performed side by side with students in schools across Canada. Well versed in the string quartet literature he was entrusted by Seiji Ozawa as the youngest faculty member of the Ozawa International Chamber Music Academy at the age of 26. He was also an adjunct professor of violin at the University of Ottawa School of Music from 2013-2022 alongside the beloved pedagogue, Yehonatan Berick.

Mr. Kawasaki began his violin studies at the age of six with his father Masao Kawasaki and Setsu Goto. He was subsequently accepted into The Juilliard School Pre-College Division and further continued his education and graduated from The Juilliard School in 1998 under the tutorship of Dorothy DeLay, Hyo Kang, Felix Galimir and Joel Smirnoff.

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Anna Petrova, piano

Anna Petrova


Anna Petrova has a multifaceted career as a soloist, chamber musician, educator, and artistic director of a non-profit music organization. She is the recipient of honors and awards from international piano competitions, including the Queen Elisabeth Competition (Belgium) and the Jose Roca Competition (Spain). Petrova has performed in renowned venues such as Carnegie's Weill Recital Hall (New York), the Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), and the National Center for the Performing Arts (Beijing). Recent highlights include her New York City debut with conductor Philippe Entremont, a Naxos Music recording of Stravinsky’s Les Noces with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra conducted by JoAnn Falletta, and solo and chamber music residencies at festivals across North America, Europe and Asia. In 2022, her debut solo album “Slavic Heart” was released to critical acclaim by the German label Solo Musica. BBC Magazine has called her performances "artistic, clear and enlightened", while Ritmo Magazine has praised her "refined virtuosity and underlying passion".

An avid chamber musician, Petrova is a member of two award-winning ensembles: the Iris Trio and the Carr-Petrova Duo. In 2018, she was honored at the United Nations for her work with refugees around the globe through the Carr-Petrova Duo’s Novel Voices Refugee Aid Project.

Teaching is an integral part of Petrova’s musical activities. She is currently the Assistant Professor of Piano at the University of Louisville (KT), where some of her students are the recipients of national and international awards and many continue their studies at prestigious graduate programs throughout the United States. Petrova regularly offers masterclasses around the world at institutions such as the Beijing Central Conservatory, the Jerusalem Music Center in Israel, McGill University in Canada, as well as the Meadowmount School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music in the United States. Her latest commitment is serving as the Co-Artistic Director of ATX Chamber Music and Jazz – a non-profit organization curating high-quality concert experiences and offering educational opportunities to the local community in Austin, TX.

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Teodora Atanasova, cello

Teodora Atanasova


Teodora Atanasova (b. 1993, Plovdiv) began playing the cello at the age of nine in the class of Yulia Markovska at the Dobrin Petkov National School of Music and Dance in Plovdiv. She graduated from the Professor Pancho Vladigerov National Academy of Music in Sofia in 2017 in the cello class of Prof. Anatoli Krastev and the chamber music class of Prof. Angel Stankov. She currently teaches cello at the Lyubomir Pipkov National Music School and the National Music Academy in Sofia.

Teodora Atanasova is the recipient of numerous prizes from national and international competitions, and has taken part in masterclasses of renowned cellists such as Claudio Bohórquez, Romain Garioud, Denis Severin, Thomas Grossenbacher, Georg Baich, Conradin Brotbek, Răzvan Suma, Anton Niculescu, Vladimir Perlin, Mats Lidström and Álvaro Huertas.
 As a soloist, she has appeared with the Orchestra of the Orkestrani Association (Ponte di Piave, Italy), the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the Prof. Pancho Vladigerov National Academy of Music (Sofia), the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra (Pernik), the Vidin Sinfonietta, the Sofia Philharmonic, as well as with the symphony orchestras of Shumen, Pazardzhik, Ruse and Plovdiv. Teodora is a multiple-time participant in the International Summer Academy of the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, where she has worked under the guidance of renowned chamber musicians and teachers such as Hatto Beyerle, Josef Klusoň, Avedis Kouyoumdjian, Johannes Meissl, Anita Mitterer, Péter Nagy, Petr Prause, Jan Talich,Vida Vujic, Evgenia Epstein and Miguel da Silva.

In 2018, Teodora became a member of the Frosch String Quartet and in 2020, she joined the Underground Cello Quartet – Bulgaria's first cello quartet. As a chamber musician, she has appeared at most of the major music festivals in Bulgaria, including March Music Days, Varna Summer, Sofia Music Weeks, The Art of the Baroque, the Apollonia Arts Festival, Music Days at Balabanov's House, the International Chamber Music Festival in Plovdiv, the Prof. Ivan Spassov Winter Music Evenings in Pazardzhik, the Chamber Music Days in Gabrovo, Arbanassi Summer Music, among others. She has recorded for the Bulgarian National Television and the Bulgarian National Radio, and with the European Recording Orchestra. In 2017, she participated in several concert programs with the Junge Zürcher Harmoniker in Zurich (Switzerland).

Teodora is currently principal cellist of the New Symphony Orchestra and solo cellist of the European Recording Orchestra. As soloist, chamber musician and orchestra member, she has appeared in venues throughout Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland, Poland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Turkey, Serbia, Russia, China, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Rumen Cvetkov, viola

Rumen Cvetkov


Since his solo debut at the age of 8, Rumen Cvetkov has performed in nearly forty countries on four continents, earning critics’ acclaim. Popular as a soloist, recitalist and chamber musician, he has performed in important music venues worldwide, such as the Berliner Filharmoniker Hall, Carnegie Hall (New York), Wigmore Hall (London), Walt Disney Hall (Los Angeles), the Pallacio de Bellas Artes (Mexico City), the Mozarteum (Salzburg), the Chicago Symphony Center, and the Bulgaria Hall (Sofia), among others. His festival appearances include the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival (Finland), Ravinia and iPalpiti (USA), the Red Sea Festival (Israel), the Athens Festival (Greece), the St. Moritz Festival (Switzerland), the Mimir Chamber Music Festival (USA), the Henry J. Bruman Chamber Music Festival (USA), Ascoli Piceno (Italy), as well as the Music in the Old Town and European Cultural Month festivals in his native Plovdiv. As chamber musician, Rumen Cvetkov has collaborated with world renowned musicians such as Ida Haendel, Bernard Greenhouse, Mikhail Muntian, Sir Harold Martina, Jose Feghali, Christian Tetzlaff, Vladimir Mendelssohn, Michael Flaksman, Jose Gallardo, and members of the Borromeo, Kronos, Aviv, Jerusalem and Verdi quartets In 2017, Cvetkov founded and became the Artistic Director of the MurciArt Music Festival in Spain, with Placido Domingo as Honorary President. Cvetkov is also a founding member of the Mediterranean Soloists orchestra of Andalusia. After serving as Principal Violist at the Royal Opera House in Valencia, he has regularly performed as a guest solo violist with the Tonhalle-Orchester Zurich, the Brandemburg Symphony Orchestra, the Mannheim Philharmonic, the Bach Collegium, the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra, the Basque National Orchestra, under the direction of Bernard Haitink, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Chailly, Myun Wun Chung, Kent Nagano, Paavo Jarvi, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Semyon Bychkov, Enrique Batiz, Rossen Milanov, Alan Gilbert, Robert Trevino, among others. A passionate teacher, Rumen Cvetkov is Visiting Professor of viola at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts Tilburg (Netherlands) and the New Bulgarian University of Sofia. He has taught at the Musical Arts Conservatory in Madrid since 2020, and regularly leads masterclasses worldwide. His debut solo album Brahms Alliance, with pianist Ludmil Angelov, was released in 2019 by GEGA New. A second solo album, with an all-Russian program, is forthcoming later in 2022. Rumen Cvetkov performs on rare instruments, including a viola made by Simon Schödler in 1785, named “Time”, an Italian viola by Giusseppe Ghiacchetti di Roma, and, most recently, a viola made by the "Russian Stradivari", Timofey Podgorny, named “The Poet”.

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Alexander Somov, cello

Alexander Somov


Born in Sofia, Alexander Somov graduated from the Lyubomir Pipkov National Music School as a student of Stefan Rounevsky. He made his debut as a concert artist in Bulgaria and in Germany, and premiered Angel Escudero’s Concierto de Espana on tour to Spain, at the age of fifteen. He continued his studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where in 1998 he won the Gold Medal, the UK's most prestigious music college prize, previously awarded to Jacqueline du Pré, Tasmin Little, William Primrose and Bryn Terfel.

Alexander Somov has performed concertos spanning from the baroque to the contemporary repertoire with the Philharmonia Orchestra (London), the Royal Northern Sinfonia (Newcastle upon Tyne), the Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony, and the Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Rousse Philharmonic orchestras, among others, under the direction of Thomas Zehetmair, Paul Mccreesh, Thierry Fischer, David Parry, Marc Albrecht, Lionel Bringuier, Sir James MacMillan, Emil Tabakov and Georgi Dimitrov, among others.

As a chamber musician, Alexander Somov has appeared at concert halls across Europe, as well as in Israel, Japan and Mexico, with partners including Thomas Zehetmair, Simon Trpceski, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yuri Bashmet, Tasmin Little, Bartek Nizioł, Mari Kobayashi, and Michel Benhaïem.

Alexander currently holds the position of Violoncelle Super-Soliste at the Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra. As guest principal cellist, he has appeared with the London Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, and the SWR Stuttgart Orchestra, among others.

He, has taught at the Strasbourg Conservatoire (2006-2013) and given masterclasses in Bulgaria, France, Sweden, Italy and Japan.

Alexander Somov has recorded solo and chamber music for Naxos Marco Polo, LSO Live, Landor Records and Gega New, while archival material with his performances is owned by the BBC Radio, the Bulgarian National Radio, Polskie Radio, and Radio Valencia.

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