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A story about music and inspiration: Meet with Zhelio Todorov

Last year, we managed to help one of the promising pianists in our country, Zhelio Todorov, fulfill one of his biggest dreams – to acquire a concert grand piano Bechstein. We believe that his story can be an inspiration for many talented individuals. Because of that, we wanted to learn more about him and his love for music. 

Hello, Zhelio, we are delighted that, despite your busy schedule, we can have a conversation with you. Could you please introduce yourself?

Hello, I am Zhelio Todorov, 17 years old from Varna. I am in the 11th grade at the National School of Arts “Dobri Hristov” in Varna, studying piano in the class of Boyan Buchvarov. I have been playing piano since the age of 5, and it has been a big part of my life. The most exciting thing that happened to me recently is acquiring the Bechstein concert grand piano, thanks to you.

How did you start playing piano?

I started quite young, and it was my mother who enrolled me and took me to my first lesson. I liked it a lot, but in the beginning, it was challenging to pay attention. However, later, around the age of 13 or 14, playing piano became my passion. I owe this to my teacher, Alexander Pavlinov, who motivated me to continue playing.

You mentioned that your mother took you to your first lesson. In this regard, are you the first-generation musician in your family?

I am a first-generation musician, but my parents are artists, and art has always been a part of my life.

Despite your young age, you have achieved a lot. What are you most proud of?

The achievement I am most proud of is, playing on stage with the Varna and Shumen Philharmonics. I was 15 at the time, and playing with two major orchestras within 10 days was very exciting for a young boy. That, so far, is my biggest achievement in classical music.

This year, you managed to have a personal meeting with the renowned Bulgarian conductor Jordan Kamdzhalov. What is the most valuable advice you received from him?

One of the best pieces of advice was to keep playing and developing regardless of the situation. Meeting him reignited a passion for work.

What are your goals for this year?

I listen to music constantly, and my greatest desire is to learn as many pieces as possible to perform in concerts and competitions. Currently, I am preparing for a competition in Orbetello, Italy, which is scheduled to take place in April. I am confident that I can prepare well for it and have a real chance of winning an award.

How does it feel to play on Bachstein’s concert piano? The brand is known for its masterful craftsmanship and is considered an instrument of high artistic value.

The feeling is truly magical, and when I play the concert grand piano, I lose track of time and forget about the world around me. The sound of this beautiful instrument is truly incredible and makes classical compositions even more captivating.

Is there a musician you would like to meet or perform with on stage?

Most of the pianists I admire lived in the past, but their work is timeless. One of the composers who served as an example for me is Alexei Sultanov, and his music is an inspiration to me.

What motivates you to play?

Through music, I express my emotions, and it helps me to be myself. Perhaps it sounds cliché because many other musicians have said it, but what motivates me to play is the endless learning and development. Competitions and big halls are important, but they are a result of the pursuit of perfection.

How can young people most easily discover the beauty of music and the magic of the piano?

In my opinion, the starting point is Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. His work is foundational for classical music.

What music do you like to listen to when you are not playing? Is there another music style that you enjoy?

I mostly enjoy classical music, but when I want to diversify, I listen to hard rock, new wave, and jazz. Listening to different music styles inspires me to play.

Next year, you will be in the 12th grade, and you are about to finish high school. Do you have plans and where you will continue your development?

I hope to go to Germany, where there are many excellent schools for young musicians. There are, also, many high-level teachers from whom I can learn a lot. However, the most important thing for me is the environment because, for a musician, it is crucial to be surrounded by ambitious and talented people who inspire him.

You are going to travel to Germany soon. Can you tell us what you will be doing there?

The piano duo Aglika Genova and Lyuben Dimitrov invited me to participate in their course, which will take place in Germany over five days. We have known each other for three years, and I gladly accepted their invitation.

We assume that you rarely have free time. What do you like to do when you are not at school or behind the piano?

During my free time, I like to take a walk while listening to music, and my favorite place is the Sea Garden in Varna.

Would you like to thank someone?

I want to thank, first and foremost, my parents, who have always supported me. I am grateful to Alexander Pavlinov, who showed me the magic of music, which has become the most important part of my life. Of course, I also thank my teacher Boyan Buchvarov, with whom we have built a very strong connection.

Thank you very much for this conversation. We wish you much success in all your endeavors, and we look forward to hearing about your future achievements.

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