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I came to Bulgaria for a month, and stayed three years

Photo: Albena Bezovska
Ivo Paunov: instrumentalist and film music composer in Canada

Ivo Paunov is a young instrumentalist, composer and leader of two bands – one in Bulgaria and the other one in Canada. He was born in Bulgaria but at the age of 15 moved to Canada with his parents. Today he admits Canada was the country that widened immeasurably his horizons. Bulgaria however, is the place that will always surprise him. Ivo has been into music since early childhood. He can play several instruments and one of them is the traditional Bulgarian shepherd’s flute.

“In Canada I finished my secondary education”, Ivo says. “I continued my studies at the University of Toronto. At first I studied mathematics and physics but then I made a U-turn and moved to York University where I took up the saxophone. My major is in jazz. During my studies I met a lot of young and talented musicians and bands. At that time I started lecturing in music at Arcadia Academy of Music, Beaches Conservatory and Dixon Hill. Later on I also graduated in computing.”

Ivo Paunov’s Canadian band is called Aphrodisiac. In it he plays jointly with his brother Vihren, a bassist as well as with a few musicians from different countries. The band has appeared at the Montreal Jazz Festival and in other major events. Ivo’s projects with Aphrodisiac helped him in the challenge of film music. The year 2007 was important for him as he decided to come to Sofia for one or two months, after a very long break. Well, in the end he stayed for a bit longer than three years.

“I came over here to work on the music for an animation film, and of course for a reunion with relatives and friends. I thought a month or two would be long enough to stay but I met a whole lot of people and I fitted into the context right away despite an absence of seven years. I also joined a new project, a documentary directed by Valentin Vulchev screened for the first time in Amsterdam, Holland. Its title is See You at the Eiffel Tower and it is a powerful piece of art. Very soon I was commissioned to work on a few commercials and on a short film. Some offers came from Canada, and I accepted them too. It turned out I could manage Canadian projects from Sofia. With the current level of technology, one is free to buy a yacht, tour the globe, and still work quite professionally.”

Here are the titles of films with sound tracks composed by Ivo Paunov – George and the Butterflies (awarded at the International Film Festival in Amsterdam) and See You at the Eiffel Tower (winner of the audience award at the festival in Trieste). Ivo has written soundtracks to a few computer games. In 2007 after he arrived to Bulgaria, he initiated a project that some leading Bulgarian musicians later joined - Theodosii Spassov, Hristo Yoysov, Mikhail Yosifov etc. He also founded the Acid Folk Five Band.

“The Bulgarian band continues my Toronto projects. I use Bulgarian folk motifs that I arrange. My encounter with young folk singer Ekaterina Angelova was crucial. She sang to me a few folk songs that she knows from her grandmother. This incredible legacy served as the basis for our first joint works. I looked for Bulgarian musicians to enrich the project. Pianist Georgi Petrov had a vital contribution into it. My brother Vihren has also joined in, as well as a German, drummer Philip Ernsting.”

At the beginning of 2011 Acid Folk Five Bulgarian held a series of concerts in Bulgaria. One of them hosted by Studio No. 1 of the Bulgarian National Radio, was aired by Euroradio and was recorded for the BNR archives. After that Ivo Paunov was back to Canada for a few projects across the Atlantic, and of course, he is still very much open to some new Bulgarian ones.

Translated by Daniela Konstantinova
По публикацията работи: Albena Bezovska
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