Musical talent in the Banbridge area is being nurtured to new levels under the care of Bulgarian classical musicians Nikolay Ivanov and his wife Veselka.
Bringing a wealth of experience from Bulgaria where they played in a number of classical orchestras, Nikolay and Veselka have been busy since their arrival here, their passion for music obvious in every initiative they develop.
Both are currently Musical Directors of Cloughmore Male Voice Choir and Accolade All Community Choir Newry, but they are also excited about their recent involvement in developing the newly-established Banbridge Chamber Orchestra.
This initiative which began in November, draws together people of all ages and abilities.
Nikolay said: “The Chamber Orchestra is for people who can play an instrument and want to get experience playing with other people.
“We currently have 12 people involved with a variety of abilities from beginners to people who are highly advanced. It’s great because the more experienced musicians can help the others and all learn from each other.”
The couple have lived in Banbridge for almost three years now, encouraged to come here by friends.
They were most recently involved in the ‘Songs of Praise’ special Christmas performance - the community initiative on Sunday, December 15.
Nikolay was responsible for conducting the Banbridge Ladies Community Choir.
Delighted with the reception at both performances, Nikolay said: “It was good to meet the different musicians - we have brilliant working relations.
“Both performances were almost full and afterwards people came and told us, ‘We loved this’. It was a really good concert.”
Nikolay, who plays viola and guitar, first became interested in music at the age of seven when he began playing a traditional Bulgarian instrument, the Tambora. Veselka, who plays and teaches the violin, is an integral part of the work.
Nikolay said: “She is the most important person in developing all ideas.
“We work together every time and are a great team. We met each other at music college and music has always been our connection.
“We have instruments everywhere and we play together at home. We also invite friends home to play music.
“I just hope we don’t disturb the neighbours - we haven’t had any complaints so far though!”
Although Nikolay misses family and friends in Bulgaria, he likes the people here.
“We have made lots of friends here and those friends here have become like family,” he said.