A Feast of Classical Music for Students, Professors and Audiences in Rousse

A Feast of Classical Music for Students, Professors and Audiences in Rousse

A Feast of Classical Music for Students, Professors and Audiences in Rousse


A Feast of Classical Music for
Professors and Audiences in Rousse

Sofia, May 7 (BTA) - For eleven days in the second half of July, music lovers, music students and world-class professors will get together in Rousse for this year's edition of the Allegra Festival and Academy. It will be the sixth edition of Allegra which started in 2014 as a master-class programme for young musicians, planned and organized by Peter Naydenov, the Bulgarian-born principal double bass player of the Luzerner Sinfonieorchester.

He is a Rousse native - hence the location of Allegra. He told BTA in an interview that other reasons he picked Rousse is its fine architecture and a wish to encourage culture life outside the capital Sofia.

Allegra actually has bigger goals, as Naydenov tells BTA. The festival aims to strengthen the role of music education; to support the development of Rousse as a European cultural centre and make the whole region an attractive destination for cultural tourism; to contribute to the development of music culture in the city and the broader region, and provide access for wider audiences and possibility to participate in events for young musicians.

The academy and festival have over-achieved, judging by how it has grown over the years: the number of participants and professors have tripled to 90 in 2018 from 20 countries with over 150 musicians participating in the concert programme. The audience has grown along, to over 3,000 people last year.

This is all the more impressive considering that Allegra is organized by only three people who have made it their cause: Peter Naydenov in Switzerland, Ina Selvelieva in the US and Maria Abrasheva in Bulgaria, all three of them natives of Rousse. They do this in their spare time, from their computers at home, and only meet once a year in Rousse during the Allegra events.

Naydenov says this is time he steals from his other passions: photography, high-tech gadgets, riding his motorbike, and skiing.

While staying focused on the three main goals of Allegra, the organizers experiment with new ideas every year.

Last year saw the premiere of the Allegra festival orchestra, Naydenov tells BTA. In this orchestra, the best participants in the academy prepared a programme together with the concertmaster of the Zurich Opera House Prof. Xiaoming Wang, the principal cellist of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Prof. Peter Somodari, and his colleague Ekaterina Frolova in the role as concertmaster. "This year the festival is turning also to a new audience: people who play music as a hobby, the amateur musicians who have a passion for music without making it a full-time job," Naydenov says.

He has invited musicians from three leading Swiss orchestras: Tonhalle Orchester Zurich, Opera Zurich and Luzerner Sinfonieorchester, who will have a week to prepare a concert together with over 40 amateur musicians. The concert will be on July 22 and the centerpiece will be Dvorak's Symphony No. 9.

Naydenov says that with this project he carries on a family tradition: his grandfather, a military prosecutor in the 1930s, set up and headed an amateur orchestra of cadets during his study, and Bulgaria's King Boris III was frequently seen in the audience of the concerts they staged.

"Naturally, the high professionalism of the Allegra professors and the soloists is the main draw in the project," says Naydenov. "The fact that professors and participants return for a second or even a third year, is the best compliment we could get."

Among the professors and musicians of Allegra are internationally renowned pedagogues and artists such as Prof. Svetlin Roussev (Bulgaria), Prof. Bartek Niziol (Switzerland), Piano Duo Genova & Dimitrov (Bulgaria), Prof. Johannes Schlaefli (Switzerland), Prof. Wim Van Hasselt (Belgium), Prof. Andreas Herrmann (Germany), Prof. Fabio Di Casola (Switzerland), Prof. Andreas von Wangenheim (Germany), James Lowe (United Kingdom), Prof. Sebastian Hamann (Germany), Prof. Peter Somodari (Hungary), Prof. Markus Utz (Germany), Prof. Denis Rouger (France).

The new names this year are Prof. Rumen Cvetkov (viola) and Prof. Laszlo Fenyo (cello).

The work on the concert programme continues and this year the audience will see 11 concerts of chamber and full orchestra between July 15 and 26. All of them will be in Rousse. Admission to all concerts will be free.

To be able to do that, the organizers use support from the America for Bulgaria Foundation, the Culture Ministry, the Russe Town Hall, the National Culture Fund, the Embassies of Switzerland and Hungary, and kaolin producer Kaolin AD. Naydenov says any private donations are more than welcome, regardless of their amount.

But for a brief gloomy remark about the slow planning process of the authorities in Bulgaria, "the modest framework set by reality" here and the frugal budget for culture, Naydenov brims with enthusiasm about the upcoming edition of Allegra.

He says one thing that has been keeping up his enthusiasm for the project for six years now is the joy of doing something for the country he was born in.

He also says he is a proof of what a friend of his, also based in Zurich, said in a recent interview: that Bulgaria should not forget the second- and third-generation Bulgarian immigrants for they would gladly participate in patriotic causes. LN/