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Kostadin Atanasov conquers the world with the “voice” of his bagpipe

Not long ago Kostadin Atanasov – a modern bag-pipe virtuoso – turned 50.

Photo: private library

Kostadin Atanasov has won a great many awards in this country and abroad. A master player of the ancient Bulgarian bagpipe varieties – kaba and djura – as a professional musician Kostadin Atanasov went through all the stages of professional training: music classes at the chitalishte in the village where he was born, the national school of folklore arts in Shiroka Luka, the Asen Diamandiev music academy in Plovdiv.

Since 2000 he has been soloist of the Philip Koutev National Folk Ensemble. He has made recordings for the Bulgarian National Radio and has released a solo album. In 2007 he was declared bagpipe player No. 1 at the world masters championship in Seoul, South Korea.

Kostadin Atanasov’s music is known in many countries of Europe, but also in Japan, Israel, USA. He is tempted to try his hand at other musical genres, and he is always overjoyed to see his students – bagpipe players – succeed.

“I was born in Hadjidimovo,” says Kostadin Atanasov. “There is a bagpipe school there, founded by Lyuben Dryankov – bagpipe tutor from Gotse Delchev. I had an accordion, my grandmother gave it to me, but when I heard the sound of the bagpipe, I quickly forgot all about the accordion. I was about 10 at the time. I have fond memories of concerts around the world. I was invited to the festival in South Koreaa at the suggestion of the Ministry of Culture and our ensemble. I had with me a host of instruments – an ocarina, a whistle, a clarinet, a djura bagpipe – and I played them in a compilation which I ended with a Korean song. That was what, perhaps, contributed to my success there. It is so exciting to be able to perform, whether at a concert, or at a chitalishte or a party, I face the audience with the same sense of responsibility. Another performance I shall never forget is the oratorio dedicated to the Bulgarian Jews by Georgi Andreev. We performed it in New York (2011) and in Boston (2013) during the US concert tours by the ensemble. The challenge was the blend of Bulgarian instruments and a classical orchestra – and the sound is magnificent. I am a supporter of this line. I have many talented students. One of them is Martin Lyamov who currently plays with the ensemble. My wife Ralitsa Atanasova is a singer with the Philip Koutev ensemble. Our daughters went to the Luybomir Pipkov national school of music. Elena graduated from Sofia University’s faculty of journalism and now works in public relations. Slava is a violinist and has been studying at Folkwang Universität der Künste in Essen, Germany for four years, in the violin class of Prof. Mincho Minchev. She took part in one of our concerts this summer, in Bourgas. We presented works by Georgi Andreev for string quartet, bagpipe and voice. We were able to present this interesting project to the audiences, and I was happy we were on stage together.”

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