Petar Ralchev (accordion) is one of the brightest stars on the contemporary Bulgarian music scene. The founder of a unique performing style which he describes as “virtuosity, melodiousness, rich harmony and improvisation,” he is an inspiration for many young accordionists around the world today. Having inherited a wealth of tunes, rhythms and measures from the folk tradition, he takes them into new realms and leads them to new heights. His deep understanding of this tradition, combined with rigorous classical training at the National School of Music Art in Plovdiv, is the basis for incredible artistic development. During the years of performing with other musical giants such as Georgi Yanev and Ivo Papasov-Ibryam, Ralchev reshapes accordion performance as we know it. Open to the subtleties and innovations in the music of other countries, he is one of the most sought-after performers in Europe today. Besides his solo career, he appears with several multi-ethnic European bands such as The Other Europeans Band, No Border Orchestra, Accordionale, Danube Ship Orchestra, Arabesque, etc., and is included in many Bulgarian projects such as the Zig Zag Trio, Bulgari and the present Petar Ralchev Quartet.
“His rich harmonic palette allows him to create dazzling chords, change keys seemingly at will, and answer his own improvised phrases with statements that thread them all together and push the music inexorably forward.” The Chicago Reader
"In Balkan music, no one has done more to advance the instrument in recent years than Petar Ralchev, an outrageously accomplished player steeped in folkloric Bulgarian styles." Andrew Gilbert, Berkeleyside
The members of the band are the youngest generation of artists, who have migrated to the “New World” carrying with them an incredible treasure: knowledge, attitude and skills deeply rooted in the old village traditions of their home country, yet polished through intensive training in elite professional schools and enriched by the musical traditions of other parts of the world. The result is music, which is intricate and mesmerizing: solid in its foundation, yet eclectic and versatile.
Nikolay Georgiev (guitar) graduated from the Philip Kutev National School of Folk Arts and continued his education in the Musical Academy in Plovdiv. He has performed with many orchestras in Bulgaria and the US, and is currently a member of Kolorit Orchestra in Chicago. Nikolay is a highly creative musician whose approach to his instrument is inspired by ornamentation specific to other folk instruments such as gaida, gadulka and accordion. He experiments freely, enjoys improvisation and fits perfectly with Ralchev’s performing mode.
Iliana Marudova-Georgiev (vocal) loves performing songs from all the ethnographic regions of Bulgaria and extends her repertoire to the neighboring Serbia and Macedonia. A graduate of the National School of Folk Arts in Shiroka Luka, she enrolled in the Musical Academy in Plovdiv where she trained until her arrival in the US. She has performed with several vocal groups such as the Academy Choir, where she was a soloist, Balkan Voices, and Ivan Milev’s Balkan Folk Band. She is currently singing with Izgrev Orchestra in Chicago.
Petur Iliev (tupan, drum) is a dancer and choreographer with a career deeply steeped in the rich folk music and dance traditions of his family. He is a graduate of the Bulgarian National School of Dance Art and before coming to the US was a Principal Dancer with the Kutev National Dance and Music Ensemble. Iliev’s individual creativity, vast knowledge of the specifics of Bulgarian music, and his understanding of its later development make him one of the few drummers capable of adequately responding to Ralchev’s versatility and virtuosity.