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.
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).
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.
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.
Baritone Randall Scarlata has been praised by the New York Times as "an intelligent and communicative singer" with a "compelling desire to bring texts to life." He has also been acclaimed for his "extraordinary vocal range and color palette" and "ability to traverse so many different singing styles" (MusicWeb International). The Daily Telegraph (London) adds, "Randall Scarlata sings with the assurance of one with nothing to prove."
Known for his versatility and consummate musicianship, Randall Scarlata's repertoire spans five centuries and sixteen languages. A sought after interpreter of new music, he has given world premieres of works by George Crumb, Paul Moravec, Richard Danielpour, Ned Rorem, Benjamin CS Boyle, Lori Laitman, Thea Musgrave, Samuel Adler, Hilda Paredes, Daron Hagen, Wolfram Wagner, and Christopher Theofanidis. He regularly performs the major German song cycles with pianists such as Cameron Stowe, Gilbert Kalish, Jeremy Denk, Jonathan Biss, Inon Barnatan, Peter Frankl, and Laura Ward. He is a regular guest with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum, Lyric Fest, Chamber Music Northwest, the Seattle Chamber Music Festival, the Kneisel Hall Festival, the Skaneateles Chamber Music Festival, among many others. In addition, Mr. Scarlata's extensive recording catalog appears on the Chandos, Naxos, CRI, Gasparo, Arabesque, Bridge, Albany and Sono Luminus labels. His recording of Schubert's Winterreise with pianist Gilbert Kalish was honored with a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Vocal Solo.
Randall Scarlata has appeared on concert stages throughout Europe, North America, South America, Australia, and Asia. He has been a soloist with the Philadelphia and Minnesota Orchestras, and with the Pittsburgh, San Francisco, American, Sydney, Ulster, Tonkünstler, National, New World, and BBC Symphonies, as well as the early music groups Wiener Akademie, Grand Tour, Tempesta di Mare, and Musica Angelica, among others. Many of the world's great music festivals have sought him out as a soloist, including the Ravinia, Marlboro, Edinburgh, Vienna, Music@Menlo, Gilmore, Salzburg, Norfolk, Aspen, and Spoleto (Italy) festivals.
During the summer, Mr. Scarlata is co-artistic director of the Alpenkammermusik Chamber Music Festival in Carinthia, Austria, and gives masterclasses throughout the United States and abroad. In 2019, he joined the faculties of the Tanglewood Music Center and the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University. He has also served on the faculties of West Chester University and SUNY Stony Brook.
Praised for her versatility and emotionally moving performances, Dora Dimitrova has a multifaceted career as a concertmaster, soloist, chamber musician and violin teacher. She has performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, the Rudolfinum – Dvořák Hall in Prague, and the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. She has shared the stage with world renowned musicians such as Kurt Masur, Carl St. Clair, Gustav Meyer, the Emerson String Quartet, Augustin Hadelich, Yoel Gumzou, and Rossen Milanov. In 2016, Dimitrova began performing regularly with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (NJ) where she frequently served as guest concertmaster. She has worked with Symphony in C (NJ), the International Mahler Orchestra (Berlin), the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, the Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra, the New York Symphonic Ensemble (NY), among others. As a passionate chamber musician, she has appeared in numerous chamber music recitals across Europe and the United States.
Dimitrova’s teaching career began in the New York metropolitan area. She was coach in residence at the Lakeland Youth Symphony Orchestra (NJ), the Gemini Youth Orchestras (NY) and the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra. She was violin faculty member at the Mahanaim School of Music (NY) and Assistant Violin Professor at the New Bulgarian University. Prima Volta Music Competition (USA) listed her among their best violin teachers of 2019.
Dora began her musical journey at the age of 5. At the age of seventeen, she was a laureate of the Young Virtuosi International Competition, the Fourth Competition for German and Austrian Music and the Young Musical Talents Competition in her native Bulgaria, as well as the Concertino Praga International Competition in the Czech Republic. Dora holds a Master of Music degree from the National Academy of Music, Bulgaria, and the State University of New York, Stony Brook. She graduated as a Doctor of Musical Arts at Stony Brook University in May, 2018. Her violin teachers include Dora Ivanova, Soovin Kim, Hagai Shaham, Jennifer Frautschi, Arnaud Sussmann, and Philip Setzer. She studied chamber music with the renowned Emerson String Quartet.
Currently, Dimitrova is the Concertmaster of the New Symphony Orchestra in Sofia. She also regularly works with the Sofia Session Orchestra and enjoys teaching violin at the Anglo-American School of Sofia.
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”.
Vyara Shuperlieva is a graduate of the Prof. Pancho Vladigerov National Music Academy in Sofia. She has served as accompanist at the National Opera and Ballet in Sofia since 1986, and, previously, at the Boris Hristov Academy in Rome (1991-1994), where she worked with singers Alexandrina Milcheva, Nikola Gyuzelev, and Sergio Oliva.
Shuperlieva regularly contributes to the Boris Hristov Singing Competition in Sofia, where she has won a Best Accompaniment prize. As accompanist, she also regularly appears at the Paolo Neglio Competition (Italy) and the Neue Stimmen Competition (Germany), as well as at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World auditions in Bulgaria. She has accompanied at prestigious international festivals, including Open Air Solothurn (Switzerland), Festspiele Salzburg (Austria), and Opera Bergen (Norway), among others. Since 2009, she has served as teaching accompanist at the Mozarteum University in Salzburg, Austria.
As recitalist, Superlieva has appeared with Andrea Rost at the Royal Theatre of La Monnaie in Brussels, and the Auditoriums of León and Seville (Spain), as well as with Darina Takova and Kiril Manolov. She is also a frequent guest at the Apollonia Festival in Sozopol (Bulgaria).
Shuperlieva has accompanied at master classes with Krassimira Stoyanova, Vesselina Kasarova, Alexandrina Pendatchanska, Carlo Colombara, and Darina Takova.
violin and viola
Bilingual as violinist and violist, Max Baillie likes to go off the beaten track, so he was particularly excited to be invited to this festival, and in a place he has not been until now! Max has performed at the Festival du Desert in the depths of the Malian Sahara, duetted with Bobby McFerrin in New York, and led Bjork’s string orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall.
Max’s interest in the cross-pollination of styles led him to form Lodestar Trio with Scandinavian folk music stars Erik Rydvall and Olav Mjelva. A meeting of Swedish nyckelharpa, Norwegian hardanger fiddle, and violin, together they play Baroque music as groove-based music, with improvisation and the spirit of a folk fiddle band. The group released their debut album Bach to Folk on the Naxos label last October to critical acclaim, and has toured all over Europe.
For over a decade, Max has also played in Zum Roten Igel (ZRI), a quintet drawing together the folk and Gypsy influences in works by Brahms, Schubert, and Janacek, which was inspired by the Red Hedgehog Tavern in Vienna. Including cimbalom and accordion in this repertoire, they have played at festivals across the UK and in Europe and have made 3 albums together, with a fourth currently in the oven. They also tour their own live score to Charlie Chaplin's early classic 'The Adventurer'.
Max plays at chamber music festivals in the UK and abroad, and appears regularly as guest leader & director with Swiss Chamber Orchestra CHAARTS including tours with Mischa Maisky and Fazil Say. He has also guest-directed projects for Scottish Ensemble and Manchester Collective.
Max is also one half of Sonnen, an electronic music duo with Vahakn Mattosian. The duo has performed at Snape Maltings for the Festival of New and been supported by a residency hosted by the Britten Pears Foundation. Their style is intergalactic-experimental.
Mentored by the late maverick violinist Ivry Gitlis, Max is a graduate of the Yehudi Menuhin School and received top honours in a Political Philosophy degree from Christ’s College, Cambridge.
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.
Since moving to New York City in 1991, cellist Wolfram Koessel has established himself as a much sought after chamber musician, soloist, recording artist and contractor on the New York music scene.
In 2006, Mr. Koessel joined the renowned American String Quartet, with whom he performs in the world’s leading concert halls, frequently collaborating with some of today’s greatest artists.
He is on the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music and the Brooklyn College of Music, and has also performed and taught at the Aspen Music Festival (2005-2021). Mr. Koessel has performed with the Mark Morris Dance Group since 1999, serving as their music director from 2004-2008. With violinist Yosuke Kawasaki and pianist Vadim Serebryani, he is also a founding member of the Ink Piano Trio.
Based in New York City, Mr. Koessel appears with a wide range of ensembles and chamber music groups such as the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. In addition to Bulgaria, his upcoming performances in 2022/23 have also taken him to Japan, South America, Canada and across the United States.