Bulgarika consists of four outstanding Bulgarian musicians. Ivan Milev (accordion) is a landmark figure of contemporary Bulgarian music, having performed in many styles for over forty years. Nikolay Kolev (gadulka) is considered to be one of the foremost gadulka players in the world. Donka Koleva (vocals) has been the… featured soloist on Bulgarian Radio & Television, as well as on many recordings. Maria Koleva (vocals) has been recognized for her expressive singing, especially her stunning performance of Thracian songs.
IVAN MILEV (accordion) is a landmark figure of contemporary Balkan folk music. Throughout his 40-plus year career in Bulgaria he established new boundaries for the Bulgarian/Balkan folk repertoire. His style fuses classical, jazz, Eastern European and Middle Eastern elements. Milev himself hails from a clan of well-known musicians and learned the intricacies of Bulgarian music from his father. In 1978 Ivan created his own orchestra, performing at festivals, concerts and on national television. His playing and charisma has won him many awards and wide popularity. In 2001 Ivan toured the US with the world-renowned saxophonist Yuri Yunakov. Ivan’s playing can be heard on the soundtrack of “Everything is Illuminated”, an acclaimed independent movie featuring the actor Elijah Wood. In 2006 Ivan and his band recorded their debut album “The Flight of Krali Marco”.
NIKOLAY KOLEV (gadulka) graduated from the prestigious Musical Folklore High School in Shiroka Luka, Bulgaria. He is considered one of the foremost gadulka players in the world. In 1985 he formed the wedding ensemble Rozova Dolina and in 1992 the prize-winning ensemble Balkanski Glasove. Nikolay has accompanied many well-known singers, including Vulkana Stojanova, Roumen Rodopski and Todor Kozhuharov.
DONKA KOLEVA (vocals) also graduated from the Musical Folklore High School in Shiroka Luka and performed for three years with the Sliven Ensemble for Folk Songs and Dances. She was the director of the Folk Song Chorus of Sopot and has been a featured soloist on Bulgarian Radio and Television. She has participated in many singing competitions in Bulgaria and Europe. Her voice has been featured on numerous recordings and in 1997 her recording of Javore was named “Song of the Year” in the Bulgarian national radio competition.
MARIA KOLEVA (vocals) is a graduate of the Musical Folklore High School in Shiroka Luka. The daughter of Nikolay and Donka, she is a fine singer in her own right and made her first recording with Bulgarian National Radio earlier this year. Born in 1982 in Thrace, she started singing at age 10 and made her first stage appearance at age 11. As a student at Shiroka Luka, she received honors and musical awards including top prizes at the Teen Folk Music Festival at Albena and recognition at the Chirpan and Plovdiv Music Festivals in 1996 and 1997. A resident of New York City, she also performs with Ivan Milev and other noted Bulgarians in New York. She has been recognized for her great expressive singing and truly melodic and rich tone as well as her stunning performances of Thracian songs.