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Maestro Nayden Todorov:

Any place is good to work a miracle

Photo: Facebook / @Nayden Todorov

The Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra is visiting Musikverein in Wien with a concert. On the program are Grotesque Symphony Suite “Bai Ganyu” by renouned XX century Bulgarian composer Veselin Stoyanov, Slavonic Dance No.2 and No.8 by Antonín Dvořák and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. The concert in one of the most prestigious halls in the world is on 17 May.

Maestro Naiden Todorov, director of the Sofia Philharmonic, admits that this is his favourite hall, and in the city that occupies a special place in his professional life.

It is no secret that during his time as director of the Sofia Philharmonic, he has managed to change concert life not only in the Bulgarian capital, but also in the country, thanks to his contacts around the world and his ability to be an inspiring leader who motivates and does not give up on the high goals set. The orchestra's recent concert seasons have featured names from the world's music scenes, performers and conductors who have done honor to even the most prestigious ensembles around the world.

On graduating the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna he won a one-year scholarship to study in Jerusalem at the Leonard Bernstein Competition.

What followed was a period of extraordinary creativity. Alongside his studies, he worked as a trumpeter in the Israel Symphony Orchestra. Later he was appointed to his first permanent international job – in Haifa, Israel, with the North Israeli Symphony Orchestra, where he was selected from over 150 candidates for the position of permanent conductor of the orchestra.

"I was 25, sort of the orchestra's baby, they were great to me, have probably forgiven me for some missteps I've made. It was there that I learnt how to deal with the orchestra players in order to get the most out of them," the maestro recalls.

His next significant appointment was in his hometown and with his dream orchestra - he became chief conductor of the Plovdiv Philharmonic.

"It was there that I debuted as an opera conductor," continues Naiden Todorov. I still remember almost every minute of that first rehearsal in Bulgaria Concert Hall, which has always been like a temple for me. I must say that my feeling has not changed over time. After Plovdiv, where I left when the director was replaced, Mikhail Angelov, the great Bulgarian conductor, invited me to work in Burgas.

I moved back to live in Vienna and travelled to Burgas for rehearsals and concerts. I also worked, with the orchestras in Vratsa and Vidin. So I had to travel a lot. I met my future wife on a trip to Italy, and after we got married we came back to Bulgaria.

I ran for director of the Ruse Opera. I won the place and stayed for more than 11 years there - some of the best years of my life. Up to that moment I had had experience as a conductor of an orchestra, but being an administrative director is something completely different. Whenever I had a problem, I would often ask for advice from the director of the orchestra in Haifa, whom I spoke to on the phone.I didn't want to leave Ruse. I have friends there, I still miss them a lot, but I decided that I had to continue as a conductor."

At that time several opportunities opened up for Naiden Todorov - Vienna, Egypt, etc. He chose to apply for the position of director of the Sofia Philharmonic.

"To me this is one of the few surviving islands of classical music in Bulgaria. The Sofia Philharmonic Orchestra is now continuing its upward journey and I am very happy to be part of it. This ensemble has an incredible history and very few people know about it. One of my dreams is to show with the orchestra that nothing is impossible, even in Bulgaria. That with good will and work miracles are always possible and it doesn't matter in which country one is. This is the reason why I have chosen to return to Bulgaria - not once, but several times.

The Sofia Philharmonic is the national orchestra of Bulgaria, and I am Bulgarian, so it is very natural that this orchestra should come first for me. Working and achieving success together, we are proving not only ourselves as musicians, we are showing Bulgaria's worth, and for me this is important.

The agencies in Vienna, Berlin, London, New York, are providing us with exceptional artists that we can be proud of in the eyes of the world. There are also Bulgarians who are doing their best for their country.

I am very happy that people like Sonya Yoncheva, Vesko Eshkenazy, Svetlin Rusev, Lyudmil Angelov have never forgotten Bulgaria. They are our present-day national pride."

Here is what the "personal" map of the world looks like for the maestro:

"I've done the most concerts in Germany, the country I most want to have concerts in is Austria. The two countries that have brought me the most exciting and new experiences are the USA and China. The warmest reception I've felt from the audience was in Italy. The country where I feel the most worried about the reaction to what I'm doing, both from the orchestra and the audience, is Bulgaria - it's always the hardest at home.

Two years ago I made a dream come true - to have a concert in my favourite Musikverein hall in Vienna, with my favourite orchestra - the Sofia Philharmonic. I believe that this is just the beginning of a series of concerts that we do together in the most wonderful concert halls."

Editor: Еlena Karkalanova

English: Elizabeth Radkova
Photos: Facebook / @Nayden Todorov
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