Earlier this year, the boys were invited to New York to perform at the prestigious Carnegie Hall. With support from family, friends and fans, they were able to travel to America and participate in the world-renowned musical event ‘American Protege.’ Before the twins arrived, their father Denis sent videos of them performing their favourite piano pieces, and the jury were immediately impressed.
"We realised that later that the boys had earned two first prizes for their individual performances and then won second prize for the Vardar Rhapsody," said Denis. “Then the Bulgarian government kindly supported our small virtuosos with $20,000 to travel to New York and St. Petersburg.''
Bulgarians who have settled in New York showered the boys with love and attention. Actress Boriana Pavlova spent time showing them all over the city including the statue of liberty, Wall Street, Metropolitan museum and the Bronx zoo.
They were also delighted by the many ice-cream carts in the streets and often treated themselves. Their father says, "They were fascinated by New York and want to return to see more and participate in more competitions; they enjoyed it so much. They say they feel like real musicians and soon became familiar with Manhattan and the subway.'' It was the twins who told their father which subways stops to get off at!
It wasn’t all about being tourists on holiday, however. They rehearsed for three to four hours every day at the piano in the Bulgarian Consulate in New York. Two days before their participation in the Carnegie Hall the boys held a concert in the consulate organised by the Bulgarian Women's Club in New York. "The kids played a Beethoven sonata, Opus 10, No. 2, several works of Pancho Vladigerov, Dilmano Dilbero and Etude No. 8 of Nikolay Kapustin. And for dessert they served Rhapsody Vardar using all four four hands,” said Boriana Pavlova.
The day before the concert was very busy. The boys went to hear the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall before undertaking their own rehearsal scheduled later that day in Weill Hall. The day after their performance they saw Hung Kuan Chen, a world-famous pianist with connections to Juillard and Yale University, perform live.
After their Carnegie hall debut they also visited a Bulgarian school in the city and provided piano accompaniment the students for ‘Gergana,’ ‘One Bulgarian Rose,’ and ‘My Country, My Bulgaria.’ After America and Bulgaria, the twins flew home and barely caught their break back before heading off to St Petersburg, Russia, for another musical event.
Hassan and Ibrahim’s fame had spread. "We encountered something very strange at the competition in St. Petersburg - other participants had read my sons’ biographies, knew of their awards and were familiar with them. They are no longer anonymous but proven names,” their father Denis said.
The boys were the only representatives from Bulgaria, specifically invited to join the event after a serious pre-selection process. The skill level of participants was very high, with contestants from Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Australia and China.
Now, though, is time for rest and holidays. “The boys now need to recharge and have a break. They’ve had offers to perform in Austria and Germany, with more coming in. We won’t make any decisions until after they’ve really relaxed and enjoyed their summer,” Denis said.
We think they’ve earned it!
With thanks to Merlin Denisova