The Bulgarian-born pianist Hristo Birbochukov has appeared frequently in solo and collaborative performances in Eastern Europe and in the United States, including a New York debut recital in 2012. Known for his “sensitivity” and “superb artistry” (Edward Lein, Intermezzo Concert Series), Birbochukov has performed as guest soloist with numerous orchestras and has participated in international music festivals, such as the International Festival for Contemporary Piano Music ppIANISSIMO (Sofia, Bulgaria), International Festival of New Music (Florida), and the Las Vegas Music Festival. Birbochukov’s honors include awards from national and international piano competitions in Bulgaria, Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award as a Pianist and Music Educator (United States, 2017), the Phi Kappa Phi Artist of the Year Award (Florida, 2007), and a Tallahassee Music Guild Award (2005 and 2007). Birbochukov’s television and radio appearances have included broadcasts in both Bulgaria and in the United States and he has been featured in national and international press including the official website of BBC Music Magazine and the largest-circulation Bulgarian national newspaper Trud.
Hristo Birbochukov earned his Doctor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Florida State University, where he taught applied piano as a Teaching Assistant. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from the Music Conservatory in Sofia, Bulgaria, under Prof. Dimo Dimov. A sought-after educator, Dr. Birbochukov has presented recitals and master classes at numerous colleges and universities across the Southeastern United States and has served as an adjudicator for competitions in the United States and Eastern Europe. Students of Dr. Birbochukov are frequent winners of state, regional, and national piano competitions.
Dr. Birbochukov is serving on the faculty of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) as an Artist-Teacher in applied piano and is on the Board of Directors of the Musical Arts Society of New Orleans (MASNO).
Dr. Jee Yeoun Ko, a native Korean cellist, began piano at age 5 and won first prize at age 7 in the Young Artist Competition in Seoul, Korea. She also studied a Korean traditional percussion instrument “Jango” for three years before she began cello at age 13. She was accepted to Chung Ang University in Korea as the only scholarship winner for that year. She continued her studies with an M.A. after winning a scholarship as best graduate school student in the Arts, Music, Media, and Drama departments. She went on to study at the Staatliche Hochschule fuer Musik in Mannheim, Germany. During her studies in Germany, she was also an active chamber musician with her international piano trio and cello ensemble. After earning Künstlerisches Aufbaustudium degree in Germany, she was recruited by a German American cellist, Babara Thiem, to study in the United States. Ko earned her doctoral degree majoring in cello performance, minoring in orchestral conducting at Louisiana State University where she was teaching as an assistant of Professor Dennis Parker. She was the Associate Principle in Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and member of Acadiana Symphony Orchestra in Lafayette. Her awards include an Honor Scholarship Award from Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the United States of America, winner of Louisiana State University Dean’s Concerto Competition, a fellowship from Music Academy in Schloss Ort in Gmunden, Austria, and first prize at the Junior Concerto Competition in Seoul, Korea. She also was selected as a soloist with Aldo Parisot cello ensemble conducted by Aldo Parisot. Her teachers include Duk Sung Na, Jung Eun Kang, Michael Flaksman, Dennis Parker and she worked with numerous renowned cellists such as Aldo Parisot, Stefan Geber, Leslie Parnas, Victoria Yagling, Antonio Meneses, Siegfried Palm, Eleonore Schoenfeld, and Helga Winold. Ko has a special interest in the music of her home country and in transcribing it for her instrument. In addition she worked on interpretations of music written for other instruments on the cello. Since August 2008, Jee Yeoun Ko joined New Orleans Center for Creative Arts as an artist teacher and was appointed as chair of the classical instrumental department in May, 2009.