A few days ago the city of Pleven – northern Bulgaria, played host to the Fourth edition of the International Guitar Festival. Its founder and art director is Nikolai Mihailov – a young tutor in classic guitar, performer and author of cinema music. He is chief organizer of the festival, together with the Association “Art by my side” and LIK - 1959 Community Center (LIK is an abbreviation meaning in Bulgarian ‘literature, art and culture’). The event is also carried through with the support of Pleven Municipality,, National Art School Panayot Pipkov (where Nikolai Mihailov works) and “Saglasie” Community Center in Pleven. Within the 5-day festival there is a contest in six categories according to the age group of the candidates. There are also master classes, an exposition of music products, presentation of music instruments and guitar makers as well as other adjacent events.
Stolina Dobreva – performer and teacher of classic guitar and headmaster of the National Music School Lyubomir Pipkov in Sofia brings us more on the event:
In a short period of time the festival made a name in Bulgaria and abroad. I should say that the organization is at a respectable level. The contest covers a wide range of age groups and gives an opportunity for competition to children from music schools and non-professional music centers. There are also categories ‘Guitar and voice’ and ‘Electric guitar’. I have a vision of all editions of the festival so far, and I can say that the number of applicants and the number of countries they are coming from is constantly growing. This year for the first time we had guests from Mexico, Korea. There were also contestants from Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, Turkey, Germany and Russia, to mention but a few. In the category with no age limit the first place went to Michael Button from Great Britain. Last year’s winner in that position was Niklas Johansen from Denmark; in 2016 – Nicola Montela from Italy; and from the first edition of the festival – Bulgarian Bozhana Pavlova. She is a student of mine and has just completed her studies in Vienna. She currently teaches at the conservatoire in Vienna and in Graz. The laureates from the first three editions of the festival gave a concert this year, accompanied by Pleven Philharmonic Orchestra. The award fund of the festival is also quite good. This year’s winner Michael Button received a guitar made by Japanese Luthier Masaki Sakurai, costing 8 000 euro.
The masters’ classes and concerts are at a very high level. At the opening we heard a concert by duo Atanas Urkuzunov – guitar and Mye Ogura – flute. Atanas has for years been living in France and his works are issued internationally by over 20 publishing houses.
There was also a concert of Quartet Eclisses, France. Part of this formation is Gabriel Bianco – one of the world’s prominent guitar performers at the moment. Bianco is laureate of the Guitar Foundation of America.
Very interesting was also the concert of Marcin Dylla – a prominent Polish guitarist. Of course, the last concert night was left for this year’s laureates’ gala. We also saw a film on the working process of maestro Masaki Sakurai, who was also present at the festival.
Stolina Dobreva also told about the master classes conducted by Gabriel Bianco, Malcin Dylla, Georgi Vassilev (working in Switzerland) and Associate Professor Rossen Balkanski. She also shared of her satisfaction with the adherents in the contest of the students from the National Music School Lyubomir Pipkov.
The school had representatives in several categories. Samuel Solomon won two first prizes. Among the youngest laureates we have Filip Gochev, Petra Pisculiyska and Rossitsa Goeva. In the category up to 15 years our school’s award winner is Malena Shishkova; in the up-to 19 years’ group we have Yoan Dimchovski. Our student Petar Krivitsky, from the double bass class, took part in the contest’s Electric Guitar section. He won the First Prize and the special award of the DINACORD Company – an electric guitar and amplifier. In my opinion this forum is especially useful for young guitarists, regardless of their age and the further direction they may chose for their development. This fact places the Pleven Guitar Festival among the best such events in Bulgaria and across Europe, Stolina Dobreva concludes.
English version: Iva LetnikovaPhotos: plevenguitarfestival.com