Ivan Varimezov – the contemporary missionary of Bulgarian folklore around the world


Ivan Varimezov – the contemporary missionary of Bulgarian folklore around the world

Ivan Varimezov – the contemporary missionary of Bulgarian folklore around the world
Article: Annual folklore awards

Photos: Annual folklore awards

On July 12, 2018 Tsvetanka Varimezova and Ivan Varimezov were awarded the statuette of the Annual Folklore awards Tsvetanka Varimezova and Ivan Varimezov were awarded the statuette of the Annual Folklore awards for Overall Contribution to Bulgarian folklore and its popularization abroad!
Ivan Varimezov is from the middle generation of Bulgarian bagpipers. He successfully performed as a professional musician in Bulgaria and abroad. He owes his high performing class to the musical gene, a gift inherited from his family, but also to the solid education he received at Nufi “F. Kutev” – Kotel. In the period 1972 – 77 he specializes in the art of the bagpipe in Plovdiv Academy of Music. During his higher education he heads the orchestra at the Academy. The professional path of the young bagpiper is connected with his uncle – the famous bagpipe musician Kostadin Varimezov. A chance, which opens his way to the present life and work in the United States.
Ivan Varimezov was born in Sredets, Bourgas. Strandja music is his strength and knowledge as a bagpiper. This is also the instrument especially important for Strandja traditions, rituals, customs. The example of his uncle Kostadin cultivates in Ivan a taste for the pure, elegant Strandzha style. This is evident in the enormous repertoire of melodies, Horo and Ruchentisa dances.
After graduating from his secondary and higher education, the young bagpiper played for a short time in the orchestra of Trakia ANPT Plovdiv. In the 1980s he lead the orchestra of the Pazardjik ANPT in Pazardjik. This is a good period in which he enriches his experiences both as a conductor, arranger and author of music for the specific needs of the ensemble. His wife Tsvetanka Varimezova was a conductor of the choir in Pazardzhik. Together, they create a first-class folklore ensemble. After moving the music family in Sofia, Ivan played first in Philip Koutev’s DANPT orchestra, and in 1990 he was a soloist in the Bulgarian National Radio Orchestra. For more than 10 years Ivan Varimezov plays in this elite for Bulgaria ensemble. He has also made more than 150 studio recordings as a soloist, accompanied by the orchestra; also as a member and creator of chamber instrumental groups, but also as the author of their music. Ivan Varimezov was also a teacher of children at the Palace of Children Sofia.

Experience he needs when ethno musicologist professor Timothy Rice, in love with the Bulgarian folk culture and a student of Kostadin Varimezov (uncle of Ivan) invites the family to move the United States. Ivan and Tsvetanka Varimezovi settle in Los Angeles, USA with their daughters as professors of Bulgarian folklore at the University of California, UCLA.
They teach American and Canadian students of Bulgarian folk singing and instrumental music. Tsvetanka is a successful conductor of numerous choirs with Bulgarian repertoire – “Nevenka” – Los Angeles, “Kitka” – San Francisco, “Mountain” – Denver, Colorado. They create a Balkan ensemble at the University of California and do numerous tours in Bulgaria and Europe.
The Varimezov family participate in folkloric seminars around the world – Denmark, France, Japan and others. Prof. Timothy Rice, highly impressed by their professional capabilities, reflects their work in his documentary “Filling Your Soul,” a story about the Varimezov family.
Both parents manage to win their daughters for folklore. The voice of one of them – Radka, sounds in James Cameron’s “Avatar” movie. She already played the bagpipe and performed as a child back in Bulgaria.
Ivan and Tsvetanka Varimezovi are a pride for our national culture. They successfully continued the work of the famous Kostadin Varimezov, who succeeded during his American residence to engage specialists and musicians in the USA and Canada in the Bulgarian folklore. Today, this mission is realized by our talented musicians. They popularize our amazing traditional art around the world without forgetting the road to the Motherland. As leaders of foreign ensembles with Bulgarian songs they perform on our folklore festivals and congregations.


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