Todor Bakardjiev: "Participation and prize from Cincinnati Festival has been great inspiration to us"

Photo: личен архив

The first edition of the Cincinnati Public Schools International Jazz Festival ended a few days ago in the US. Together with orchestras from 22 schools in the United States, the jazz band of the "Lyubomir Pipkov" National Music School with leader Todor Bakardjiev (trumpet) also took part. This was the only band from a foreign country in the program of the event.  The Bulgarian school band was invited by Dr. Isidore L. Rudnick –Fine Arts Curriculum Manager at Cincinnati Public Schools and a man fully committed to his profession. Trombonist, composer and conductor, he is one of the initiators of the festival. Dr. Isidore L. Rudnick was in Bulgaria in 2018 to conduct a master class in improvisation and orchestral performance with students of the “Lyubomir Pipkov” school and the Pancho Vladigerov National Academy of Music, which ended with a concert. In early 2019, he visited Bulgaria once again, this time with a big band from Clark Montessori High School and held a master class in the capital. The school orchestra conducted by him performed in Plovdiv and Stara Zagora and young Bulgarian jazz performers were among the soloists.

The Cincinnati Festival provides great opportunities for young performers. The program featured masterclasses with famous jazz musicians like Melissa Aldana (saxophone), Chris Berg (double bass), Shamie Royston (piano), Art Gore (drums), and more. Todor Bakardjiev also conducted a master class. He told us more about the participation of the Bulgarian band in the competition program and in the final concert:

“We played 'Moanin' by Bobby Tommons, Gershwin's Summertime and Sing, Sing, Sing by Benny Goodman during the competition part, while at the final concert we performed several pieces intended for a big band. We made impression on the audience as we perform works for a large orchestras and our band is much smaller – it includes a saxophone, two trombones, three trumpets and a rhythm section (double bass, drums and guitar). The other orchestras were much larger. Regardless, we achieved large-scale sound and this has earned us the award for outstanding performance. It should be kept in mind that music education in the United States is very different from what it is here. But they showed very good ensemble performance, which is an inspiration for us to work on these skills. Participation in our school jazz band is voluntary but I find it very useful. At the music school, students should prepare for band and orchestra performances. Practice has shown that even famous soloists are part of orchestras or they are concertmasters. I am not talking about a specific genre as we live in the 21st century and various types of music are constantly mixed. In my opinion, every style has a place in education. The most important thing I want to teach students is to overcome individualism when playing in a team. Everyone has his or her place and can act as a soloist, but for the rest of the time they should think about the team and be part of it. I try to teach them respect. There is always a moment of competition between musicians and that has always hampered my work. It is useful to have competition, but it is not good when the focus is on it. I like working with my pupils as they are so pure and you can always understand what they really think. This is the purest form of communication and they give me much motivation. They come with joy to our classes.”

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: private library

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