Interview with Magdalena Kaltcheva–a young guitarist

Magdalena Kaltcheva was born in July 1987 in Sofia, Bulgaria. After initially taking private lessons with S. Vladimirov in Sofia, she began to study with Csaba Szekely in Aachen. From 2000 until 2004, she was a student at the Special high school of Music “Schloß Belvedere” in Weimar, Germany. In October 2004 she was accepted to study with Prof. Jürgen Rost at the “Franz Liszt” University of Music in Weimar. She graduated successfully and received her Diploma in July 2009. Now she is in a Master degree studies at the University for Music in Cologne with Prof. Hubert Käppel.

Since 2000, she has participated in a number of different master classes with Manuel Barrueco, Pepe Romero, Aniello Desiderio, David Russell, Odair Assad, Hubert Käppel, Thomas Müller-Pering, Zoran Dukic, Costas Cotsiolis, Roland Dyens, Dale Kavangh, Carlo Marchione, among others. In addition to a number of Concerts, TV- and Radio recordings (for one example, she played with the Antalya Symphony Orchestra and with the broadcast orchestra of Munich the “Concerto de Aranjuez”, which was introduced live at Radio Bayern 4 Classic), can chalk up as well impressive success at Competitions.

Magdalena Kaltcheva
Magdalena Kaltcheva

For her musical accomplishments she has received a master Guitar from the “Soroptimist International Club” and a scholarship from the “Freundeskreis zur Förderung der Bochumer Symphoniker“. Magdalena has been promoted as well by the LIONS-CLUB KÖLN-COLONIA scholarship for high talented students of the University for Music Cologne, in October 2009.

In the Year 2006 she has recorded her first CD “Sonatas” with “NCA – New Classical Adventure” Hamburg. The selection of works performed on this CD from Scarlatti, Mertz, Paganini, Brouwer and Dyens contain a variety that afford a technical musical ability of the highest level and at the same time a gentle feel of sound and musical sensitivity.

We had an email interview with Magdalena.

Q1. Talking about your childhood, tell us how you grew up liking music?

I was born in Sofia (Bulgaria) and at my early age I was dancing ballet, visiting a painting school, doing some kinds of sports—to make it short, I was interested in many things, as most of the children are… My parents are not musicians but both of my older brothers are guitarists; so when I was a child, I listened them practicing a lot. And of course, at home, they often talked about music. I think this was one of the reasons that made me like music. The music and the guitar have always been very important to our family.

Magdalena KaltchevaQ2. How the guitar was picked up as your favorite instrument? Was there any particular reason behind the choice?

One day, after winning a big duo competition in Cuba, my brother Ivo and his wife Sophia (who plays together in that duo) sent us a video cassette of their performance at the prize winners’ concert. I was so fascinated and proud that while watching it I wished to play that beautiful instrument too, and I asked my parents to buy me a guitar. It took a while until they saved the money but finally, for my tenth birthday, they gave me as a present my first guitar… and so things start rolling.

Q3. Tell us something about your training and tutelage in music and how was the experience back then.

When musicians are still young, they need, of course, a lot of practice and discipline to make progress and to be successful–for example in a competition. The concept of the competitions is highly contested and I agree with this but at the same time they are very important and useful because they give you ambitions to improve and develop yourself. This is how you get motivated and keeping up your level, especially when you win a prize. It requires huge work and patience and, although you (maybe) miss a lot of things during your childhood, this is the only way to achieve your goal. You also need a lot of good luck as well… for example, to get the chance of meeting the right people who can support and promote your career.

Q4. How does it feel to be able to create music at such a young age and do something that not every youngster can do?

Well, people are all different and everybody has their own talent and their own interests. I always wished to play guitar and to become a musician–from the very beginning, I was dreaming about to play around the globe and to share music; to travel in different countries and to see different places. I am also very grateful to my parents for supporting me in all my endeavours, especially when I wanted to join the special High School of Music in Weimar (Germany). My mother decided to leave everything–her job, the family and friends in Bulgaria just to provide for me to have good education by professional teachers in a country with high music culture. She would never have taken such a big decision if she had not been sure about my dreams and about my motivation for achieving them.

Q5. You have performed solo and with other musicians. Do you feel it increases your repertoire as a musician to play with others performing on different musical instruments and sometimes hailing from different musical genres?

I believe that for every musician it is important to do chamber music and to play together with other musicians as well–you share a lot of experience while playing and rehearsing with other musicians; or rather, with other instrumentalists, also with different styles of music, you learn many useful things. Doing music together is wonderful and I am very happy that I had the chance to play with great orchestras and with great soloists.

Magdalena KaltchevaQ6. How do you feel that classical music has a refined impact on the musician as well as the audience? Do you feel, as a person, classical music impacts your personality?

Music has passed through a long evolution… and it is still evolving. The way how music has changed during the centuries is fascinating. Playing different epochs of music, listening to famous musicians and compositions from the past centuries, also reading about the history of music, it obviously develops the personality of an artist. It is valid not only for the classical music – it is about the music itself in the context of the person’s own experience that influences the character of a musician.

Q7. Do you feel your music is influenced by some form of genre of music or any musician in particular?

When I began playing the guitar, I did not know so many famous guitarists because at this time the classical guitar was not as popular in Bulgaria as it is today. So I chose the guitar just because I liked its sound, its look and the repertoire which was played on it–while I was listening many times my brothers practicing or performing on stage, I knew a lot of different pieces and I really loved the most of them. During the years of my education in Germany, I had the chance to meet many great guitarists and other musicians and to listen to many concerts. So yes, of course, there was a time when I had some “idols” whom I admired. I think that every person has in a way their own idols. This can also be a kind of inspiration!

Q8. Give a choice to perform live or to record in a studio, which one you will prefer and why?

This year, I will publish my second CD, so I have some experience with recordings but I prefer to play live because then I feel free and I can use moments of inspiration to make a connection with the audience.  This feeling is not comparable with the performing in a studio.  During a recording, you have to concentrate on so many things. You have to take care of noises, (for example not to breathe so heavy or not to move too much) and of course you have to care about mistakes. Also when you are not satisfied with the result of a piece, you have to record it twice or three times, etc. After repeating it many times, you loose energy and concentration… so you don’t feel free anymore and it is getting more and more difficult to show real music like you do usually when you perform on stage.

Q9. How satisfying has been the journey as a musician? How do you feel music helps in balancing the mind and being concentrated about the task at hand?

Yes, I am very satisfied about having the chance to play music and to travel around, to see different places and to meet people. This is what I have always been dreaming of and I am very curious about what is coming up in the future. I still have many ambitions and I will keep on working and follow that way.

Of course, sometimes you have moments when you feel lonely while traveling alone and you miss your friends and family, but thank God the technology is developing so fast and it makes it possible to stay connected with everyone around the globe.

Q10. If not guitar, what else you would have done?

Well, I have never thought about this. It is maybe because I have always had this only wish about the guitar and so I have been fighting for it. That is why I have not imagined myself doing something else.

Q11. When not playing guitar, what else you like to do?

To this question, I think I can give you the same answer as the previous one… 😉

But in any case, one day I would like to learn how to play electric guitar… I wish to get to know how to play different styles, for example rock or jazz and to experiment with their sounds.

In my free time, I love to cook and spend time with my friends together or just reading a book- I am very interested in history…

Q12. What you would like to convey to our readers?

Follow your dreams and fight for them, although if the way seems hard! And… be honest with yourself.

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