Off The Beaten Path


Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Dobrinka Tabakova, composer

Dobrinka Tabakova


Born in Plovdiv, Dobrinka Tabakova has lived in London since 1991, graduating from the Guildhall School of Music, and obtaining a PhD from King’s College London. Her ‘exciting, deeply moving’ music (Washington Times) has been featured in festivals across Europe, including the BBC Proms (UK), Schleswig-Holstein (Germany), Homecoming (Russia), World Sun Songs (Latvia) and Dark Music Days (Iceland). Tabakova has been resident composer at the Davos Summer Festival in Switzerland and Truro Cathedral, Cornwall (UK), as well as with the MDR Leipzig Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Swan (Stratford, UK). She has received commissions from the Royal Philharmonic Society in the United Kingdom, BBC Radio 3, and the European Broadcasting Union.

Tabakova’s debut album String Paths, released by the German label ECM Records, was nominated in the Best Classical Compendium category at the 2014 Grammy Awards. In 2017, she was appointed composer-in-residence with the BBC Concert Orchestra (BBCCO). She is a recipient of the prize for an anthem for Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee and First Prize and Medallion at the Sorel Choral Composition Contest in New York. Other significant projects include Immortal Shakespeare (2016), a cantata commemorating the British playwright's 400th death anniversary, the multi-commissioned double piano concerto Together Remember to Dance and the choir and strings work Centuries of Meditations for the Three Choirs Festival in Britain, which the PRS Foundation named one of the UK’s best contemporary compositions for the past 25 years. Tabakova’s second album, devoted to choral music and performed by the Truro Cathedral Choir with the BBCCO, was released by Regent Records, receiving a 2019 Critics’ Choice mention by Gramophone Magazine. In 2021, Dobrinka Tabakova completed her orchestral Earth Suite for the BBC Concert Orchestra and the violin concerto The Patience of Trees for the Manchester International Festival. In 2022, she was named The Halle Orchestra's Аrtist in Аssociation.  

In 2023, two new comissions from Dobrinka Tabakova were premiered on a tour of the UK’s great cathedrals with vocal ensemble The Sixteen celebrating William Byrd's 400th anniversary, and a new album with The Halle Orchestra was released on the orchestra's own label. A follow-up ECM Records album is forthcoming.

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Svetlin Hristov

Svetlin Hristov


Born in Sofia in 1991, Svetlin Hristov studied piano at the Prof. Vesselin Stoyanov National School of Arts in Ruse in the renowned piano teacher Evgeny Zhelyazkov’s class. He subsequently graduated from the Prof. Pancho Vladigerov National Academy of Music in Sofia with a triple major in piano – in the class of Prof. Dr. Atanas Kurtev, composition – in the class of Prof. Velislav Zaimov, and orchestral conducting – in the class of Prof. Plamen Djurov and Assoc. Prof. Georgi Patrikov. In 2015-2016, he specialized in piano at the P. I. Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory in the class of Alexander Vershinin, while in 2020-2021, he specialized in orchestral conducting at the University of Music in Vienna in the class of Prof. Simeon Pironkov.

Svetlin Hristov has attended master classes in piano with Evgeny Bozhanov, Lyudmil Angelov, Bozhidar Noev, Maria Gambaryan, Pavel Egorov, Mamiko Suda, and Natalia Deeva; in orchestral conducting with Georgi Dimitrov and Uroš Lajovic; and in choral conducting with Markus Utz, Denis Rouger, and Yuval Weinberg.

On the concert podium, Svetlin has appeared frequently as a pianist, chamber musician, orchestra member, conductor, and composer. He has been a soloist of the Ruse Philharmonic Orchestra and the Academic Symphony Orchestra of the National Academy of Music in Sofia. He has conducted the Academic Symphony Orchestra, the Vidin Symphony Orchestra, and the Classica Chamber Orchestra (Sofia). In 2018, he conducted the Academic Symphony Orchestra at the Bulgaria Hall in the concert "Stars of the Future" within the program of Sofia Music Weeks; in 2022, he conducted the Sofia Philharmonic at the Sofia Symphonic Summit Festival. Svetlin's festival appearances include Maria Gambaryan, Moscow-Peredelkino (2011), Piano à Vitteaux, France (2014), ppIANISIMO, Sofia (2015), Slavic Meetings, Moscow-Balashikha (2015), and Sofia Music Weeks (2018, 2020).

Svetlin Hristov has won prizes from the following piano competitions: Hopes, Talents, Masters in Dobrich/Albena (Bulgaria, 2008), Franz Schubert, Ruse (Bulgaria, 2009, 2011), Carl Filtsch, Sibiu (Romania, 2009), Chopin, Varna (Bulgaria, 2010), Scriabin-Rachmaninoff, Sofia (Bulgaria, 2012), and Classics and Modernity, Stara Zagora (Bulgaria, 2014).

His music has been performed at the ppIANISIMO festival in Sofia (2015, 2019), the Plovdiv Fresh Festival (2017, 2019), and in concert programs across Bulgaria, Croatia, and Russia. In 2019, his Monologue for Four was selected to represent Bulgaria in the International Rostrum of Composers youth category in Argentina. In 2021, he won the award for best film music for the short film Good Night, Lilly (dir. Petar Valchev) at the On the Beach International Festival in Sozopol. In 2022, he performed a program of his own music at the Prof. Pancho Vladigerov National Academy of Music with the support of the National Culture Fund of Bulgaria.

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Peter Kerkelov

Peter Kerkelov


Born in a Bulgarian-Russian family in Plovdiv in 1984, Peter Kerkelov studied at the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts in his native city, where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in classical guitar in the class of Milena and Valentin Vulchevi, and a Master’s degree in composition in the class of Prof. Dimitar Tapkoff. He subsequently completed a Master’s degree in composition at the Royal Conservatory in the Hague (Netherlands), where he studied with Martijn Padding and Guus Janssen, and a PhD degree in ethnomusicology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. He also specialized in composition with Prof. Dan Dediu at the National University of Music in Bucharest (Romania), and has taken part in masterclasses with composers Louis Andriessen (Netherlands), David Lang (USA), and Kaija Saariaho (Finland).

Kerkelov’s music has an ascetic sincerity and directness that transcend the notion of composition as playground, aiming at the field of philosophy and borrowing from other art forms.

His music has been performed in Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, and the USA, in venues such as Konzerthaus Wien, Gaudeamus Music Week, BOZAR Brussels, and Teatro Massimo, Palermo, and by groups and artists such as the Asko/Schoenberg Ensemble (Netherlands), Bang on a Can All-Stars (USA), Ensemble PHACE (Austria), Musica Nova Sofia Ensemble (Bulgaria), Sofia Soloists (Bulgaria), Ruysdael Kwartet (Netherlands), Antonii Baryshevskyi (Ukraine), and Hayk Melikyan (Armenia).

Kerkelov has been commissioned to create work by the Trio Imàge (Berlin), the CRUSH Ensemble (Germany), the ppIANISSIMO Festival (Bulgaria), the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, the Dutch Chamber Music Society, and the Royal Conservatory in the Hague. He has also had a fruitful collaboration with the Bulgarian National Radio, where he has recorded Time Etudes with the BNR Orchestra and Choir conducted by Dragomir Yossifov, with Israeli soprano Reut Rivka Shabi; Attempt at Screaming with the Musica Nova Sofia Ensemble, also under Dragomir Yossifov; and Two Symphonies and Postumus with the FROSCH string quartet.

In 2012, Attempt at Screaming won the 59th International Rostrum of Composers in Stockholm in the Under 30 Category, while in 2016, Time Etudes was labelled a “Top 10 recommended work” in the General Category of the 63rd International Rostrum of Composers in Wroclaw. He was also a finalist at the Sentieri Selvaggi Composition Competition in Milan (Italy), and has received scholarships from the Richard Wagner Stipendienstiftung – Bayreuth (Germany), the Schuurman Schimmel van Outeren Stichting (Netherlands), and the Raina Kabaivanska Foundation (Italy/Bulgaria).

Currently, Kerkelov is a Senior Research Assistant in Ethnomusicology at the Institute of Art Studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and Assistant Professor in Orchestration at the Prof. Pancho Vladigerov National Music Adademy in Sofia. He is represented exclusively by the Dutch contemporary music publisher DONEMUS.

Off the Beaten Path chamber music festival - Lora Al-Ahmad

Lora Al-Ahmad


Born in Sofia, Lora Al-Ahmad graduated with honors from Mannes College of Music in New York City, holding a BM degree in Piano Performance, a Double Major Master’s degree in Piano Performance and Composition, and a Professional Studies Diploma in Composition. She studied piano with Pavlina Dokovska and Vladimir Valjarevic, and composition with Lowell Liebermann.

In 2019, the last concert of the series “Musical Treasures from Bulgaria” at Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall was dedicated to Lora as a composer and a pianist. In 2020, her “Two Skazkas” won the First Prize in the Solo Flute category of the Newly Published Music Competition by the National Flute Association in the United States. Her music has been performed by internationally distinguished musicians such as Stefan Ragnar Hoskuldsson, principal flute player of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Billy Hunter, principal trumpet player of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and Wolfram Koessel, cellist of the American String Quartet, among others.

Her festival appearances include the Festival of the American Conservatory at Fontainebleau (France), the Festetics Palace Festival in Keszthely (Hungary), the Bowdoin International Music Festival in Maine (USA), and The Mannes Sounds Festival in New York City.

As a soloist and chamber musician, Lora has also performed at the Bohemian National Hall at the Czech Center in New York City, the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, The German House at the United Nations Plaza, and others.

Lora is an advocate for new music, with a special focus on works by women composers. She has hosted the concert “Chamber Music by Young Women Composers”, featuring works by her colleagues Shahar Regev and Hyejin Cho.

In 2021, Lora was Guest Composer and Lecturer at the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where the premiere of her piano trio Irminden took place. In 2022, this commissioned work – performed by Miroslav Hristov, violin, Marta Simidchieva, cello, and Ilia Radoslavov, piano – was featured in a CD release titled “Irminden: One Hundred Years of Bulgarian Piano Trios.”

Lora is currently pursuing Doctoral Studies in Piano Performance at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City and is a faculty member in the Piano Department at Bard College Preparatory Division.

Her works are published (and printed on demand) by Theodore Presser Company.

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