Accordionist Petar Ralchev: the Mozart of Bulgarian Folk Music to Perform in Philadelphia

Petar Ralchev
Bulgarian accordionist Petar Ralchev has been called the “The Mozart of Bulgarian folk music”. This may sound like a joke, but accordion player Petar Ralchev has more than earned the title. On May 11, he will perform with a four-piece band at Crossroads Music. The concert will take place at 7:30 pm at 801 South 48th Street in Philadelphia. A short program for children under 12 will begin at 6:00 pm.

One of the brightest stars on the contemporary Bulgarian music scene, Petar Ralchev is the founder of a unique performing style characterized by 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 years of performing with other musical giants such as Georgi Yanev and Ivo Papasov-Ibryam, Ralchev reshaped 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, Ralchev 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, where he is joined by three young artists, who have brought to the “New World” an incredible treasure:

Nikolai Georgiev (tamboura, 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.

Iliyana Marudova-Georgiev (vocals) 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.

Recordings available:

Advance tickets and more information are available at or 215-729-1028.

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.


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