My story with the Bulgarian kaval…
Zhivko Vasilev is one of the most popular Bulgarian musicians and kaval players in the world. He is well known for his experiments with this woodwind instrument and the constant seeking for unexplored paths in kaval music. Thanks to his experimental spirit he is constantly driven to combine traditional kaval sound with different western styles such as jazz, funk, latin, latin jazz, pop, electronic music and many more. The result of this incredible symbiosis is an exotic and unique style that he constantly improves. The Kaval is his favourite music instrument as with it, he could best express his musical ideas and easily mix the typical sounds of the Balkans with some modern and innovative music sounds.
Zhivko is not only a music composer and player, but is also giving kaval lessons both to beginners and more advanced international students who would like to learn how to play the Bulgarian kaval.
He hails from the Southern city of Smolyan, Bulgaria in the heart of the Rhodope mountains, where the Bulgarian kaval is a popular music instrument. He inherited his love of music from his father and began his early training on the kaval at the NUI Dobri Hristov music school in Varna, Bulgaria. In 2014 he graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Sofia University, majoring in pedagogy. In 2021 he graduated with a master’s degree from one of the most prestigious universities in the world – Codarts (Rotterdam, the Netherlands). He has performed with his kaval all around the world at many prestigious stages and festivals. He has collaborated with many great musicians among them Max Moya, Xuxa Levi, , Juan Garcia Herreros, Roberto Quintero, Christiane Karam, Angel Zaberski, Stoyan Yankoulov, Teddy Katzarova, Silvia Katzarova, Kalin Veliov and Hector Martignon. He is also the leader of a couple of his own projects – Outhentic and Zhivko Vasilev Quintet, both of which blend Bulgarian folkore with western contemporary flavors. In 2020 he became part of the internationally known band Arifa.