Pancho Vladigerov International competition brings together generations of musicians


The Bulgarian town of Shumen – famous musician Pancho Vladigerov’s birthplace, has hosted for years contests for pianists, violinists and singers. Those have two main versions: national (for singers, aged up to 19) and international, with no age limits.

“This year’s edition preserves the format of the national contests for pianists and violinists in the different age groups, as held before,” says Diana Decheva, CEO of the Pancho Vladigerov Foundation. “In 1995 the Pancho Vladigerov Foundation established a contest of the same name and over 80 participants took part back then. Some of them are now well-known names – for instance, Yana Deshkova (violin) and Ruzha Semova (piano). Over the years the contest had different forms and now for the first time we will step beyond the ‘national’ frame of up-to-19-year-old participants. Of course, the international contests are held every four years, ever since their beginning in 1986.”

Chair of the Pancho Vladigerov Foundation Prof. Mincho Minchev and also a head of the violin jury, tells us more about the regulation’s changes and his view, regarding the attitude that the young musicians should have before each contest:

“I remember my contest years, now I am the tutor and jury member, so I have gained serious experience. In my opinion contestants should have the do-my-best attitude before each event of this kind, after having completed a serious preparation process in advance. In such case you are a winner, no matter whether you have taken the award or not. We don’t have an exact system to measure the results the way they do it in sports, but the unanimity of the experts in the jury guarantees professionalism and good will. We changed the rules in this edition and now the points taken in the first and second round are cumulated – so far a participant needed certain points, in order to go to the next stage. Still, we have plenty to do for the precision of the assessment criteria for the next ‘big’ contest. People should know that efforts are put for this contest by the ministry of culture, the local authorities and also by different businessmen. We are thankful for the support of the BNR, BNTv, for the professional cooperation of the Ruse Philharmonic and the Shumen Symphony Orchestra which accompanies the applicants over the final stages. So, I am optimistic about a fantastic 2019 contest.”

More from Prof. Boyan Vodenicharov, head of the keyboard jury:

“The overall level of the candidates was pretty convincing and professional – obviously most of them have good tutors. We had 16 pianists and the little ones were most impressive, especially the kids who took the top two prizes: Angel Yalachkov and Boril Hristov. The jury hailed them for their natural, spontaneous energy, typical for their age. In the second group we had the Hasan and Ibrahim Ignatovi brothers who also impressed us a lot with their achievements at the age of 14. As far as the last group was concerned, the jury decided not to give a top award, but to split the second one between Emanuil Ivanov and Yoana Raicheva. A contest of this kind gives a chance to a young musician to overcome himself first, not always the competition, as one of the colleagues stated wisely. This is true – one steps on the stage and struggles with stress within an extreme testing situation, pushing his or her capabilities.”

Here is what Muhammedjan Turdiev from the violin jury said:

“I was born in Uzbekistan and I spent my student years in Moscow. Later on I returned to Uzbekistan and worked for a long time with my quartet. Then the formation grew into the Soloists of Uzbekistan chamber orchestra and in 1992 we all moved to Turkey. An international symphonic orchestra was established there and we became part of it. I have lived and worked in Turkey ever since. My students come from Turkey, Russia and I also had a student from Bulgaria – Kalina Miteva from Sofia, now a really good violinist. I must say that the few days spent in Shumen gave me really a lot, especially during the visit of the House Museum Pancho Vladigerov. I feel nothing else but incredible gratitude and love, as far as this great musician is concerned.”

The Pancho Vladigerov contest met us with another extraordinary musician and pedagogue who has his global fame - Aquiles Delle Vigne from Argentina who was a member of the keyboard jury. You may hear what he said for Radio Bulgaria in the audio file.

Another member of the keyboard jury – Yang Ming was in Bulgaria for the first time. He is a pianist, a professor with the Chinese National Conservatory and head of the National Musical Academy for Pianists (his statement can also be found in the audio file).

English version: Zhivko Stanchev

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