Muzika! The Grand Strand Music Festival | Myrtle Beach, SC

Residents have few complaints about living here on the Grand Strand. In short, it’s pretty awesome. The only caveat to living in this paradise is the realization (reality?) that it often lacks the cultural richness that metropolitan areas offer. While it’s true that they don’t have all the culturally significant amenities of a big city, the lack of culture is plainly false. It can be hidden in our colleges and universities, lurking behind our beachwear stores, vape shops and shopping centers, so you need to know where to look. It’s in our museum, our botanical sculpture garden, our high school auditorium, and it’s waiting patiently right behind the next dune.

The Varna International Academy of Music (VIMA) brings world-class high culture, fully staged and costumed opera back to the Grand Strand this summer. From late June to late July 2023, VIMA will also host chamber music performances, choirs and more. The Columbia, South Carolina-based non-profit invites everyone who wants to seize the opportunity to immerse themselves in centuries-old entertainment once reserved for kings and queens.

“This is our legacy story,” says Sharon Tchonev, co-founder of VIMA. He launched her VIMA over 20 years ago with her husband’s co-founder and music director, Kalin Tchonev, and chose Columbia, South Carolina as her home and base of operations. After Karin’s education at the University of South Carolina and the couple’s subsequent marriage.

“Karin is from Bulgaria and her father was a famous conductor in Europe,” she says. “He followed in his father’s musical footsteps and he started singing in his father’s choir when he was five years old. This is his legacy and now his VIMA is our common is our passion and mission.”

VIMA partnered with the world-famous Violins of Hope to bring their own work, Songs of Life, to the Grand Strand last year. The event celebrated the heroic actions of Bulgarian citizens who sacrificed themselves to save nearly 50,000 Bulgarian Jews from trains bound for Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Dozens of violins, cellos and violas played in the moving performance once belonged to Jewish musicians, many of whom were never rescued and were killed in the Holocaust. The Travel Program is just one of his VIMA works done in the area last year.

Musica!Grand Strand Music Festival

From June 27th to July 21st (specific performance dates and locations not yet scheduled), VIMA will return to Myrtle Beach as part of a wider South Carolina tour. This tour also includes Greenville, Columbia and Augusta, Georgia. Last year’s Musica! was the first fully staged and costumed professional opera by a full concert orchestra in Myrtle Beach. This summer, VIMA will present the operas The Marriage of Figaro, The Tales of Hoffmann and Street Scenes in suitable venues. Last year, VIMA had access to the Myrtle Beach High School Music and Arts Center, which seats approximately 2,000. It is hoped that VIMA will be able to use the facility again, but this could not be confirmed at press time. This grand theater was originally built with funding to attract the kind of performances VIMA puts on, and has been home to the Long Bay Symphony for decades. Long Bay conductor Dr. Charles Evans conducts his orchestra full of the VIMA’s Marriage of Figaro. Visiting the Grand Strand from the Metropolitan Opera, maestro Gregory Boucalter will conduct Verdi, Requiem and Opera alongside Met soloists.

Additionally, Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem Mass will be performed on June 27 at St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Garden City Beach. Choir and chamber music are also scheduled for Murrell’s Inlet, Georgetown, Conway and North Myrtle Beach.

“Performers from all over the country come from the Metropolitan Opera, the New England Conservatory, the Dallas Opera and many other notable institutions,” continues Sharon Chonev. “It’s just unbelievable. We’re also going to feature vocal majors and graduate students from around the country in the lead and supporting roles.”

Born and raised in Varna Bulgaria, a Bulgarian port city and seaside resort along the Black Sea, Karin Chonev first came to South Carolina for additional music training and a degree. He holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the Bulgarian National Academy of Music, a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting and Piano from the USC School of Music and a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting and Piano Performance from the USC School of Music. I’m here.

“We just started our foray into the Grand Strand last year,” explains Karin Chönev.

“Musica! Historic significance and impact on the Grand Strand community in 2022,” he continues. We are the first to blaze this trail. The Myrtle Beach High School facility is the only one in the area with an orchestra his pit, which is essential for opera performances. In the orchestra he has more than 50 musicians, but he cannot wing them. Backstage, performers share space with all sets. It is a work of high quality. Last year we had some well-attended nights and some not so well, and I hope that grows to match the quality of our performances. ”

Most of the performers are from the United States, but some are international visitors. Mostly young adults in his 20s to his 30s, VIMA uniquely offers some of them the chance to appear in their first major professional opera.

“They are young, but they are professional opera singers studying for masters and undergraduate degrees,” says Kalin Tchonev.

Locally, Sarah Molly, a teacher at Riverside Elementary School, will be training and providing a youth choir for this summer’s street scene opera.

“Last year the youth choir performed for the opera ‘Carmen,'” Morley says. Her new choir, The Grand Strand Voices Youth Choir, is made up of her 25 to her 30 children, ages 8 to her 18.

“We play a small but important role in one scene of an opera,” she says. “Last year’s experience with VIMA and Carmen was one of the best summers ever. We were so inspired that we wanted to sing a song like this. It made a big impact on them. ”

Varna International Academy of Music

“Varna is not one of Europe’s most famous cities, as most Americans know it. [recognize by name,]’ says Sharon Chonev. “We are neither Rome nor Paris nor Vienna. I named our organization Varna International Academy of Music because Varna belongs to Karin. [birthplace] He has also traveled to over 30 countries teaching and providing opportunities for students and professionals to perform. We started by offering classes only in Varna, but have grown to include American students traveling with us. We are a truly international group. ”

“Our masterclass instructors represent the best in the industry,” adds Karin Chönev. He gave many concerts in Boston and in South Carolina, including Myrtle Beach. ”

“We started small and have grown over the years,” says Sharon Tchonev. “We want to get the right message out to the public and bring in the next generation of performers and, frankly, South Carolina people who don’t have many opportunities to see such a magnificent opera or hear such quality music.” We want to give people music training.. This is pioneering work and like all pioneering work it’s not always easy. As a for-profit organization, there are always financial challenges as well.”

Would you like to help us as a host?

“We are asking for help and are offering Grand Strand residents the opportunity to host some of our traveling students and cast members in their homes for a few nights,” she added. As you can see, hotel rates are quite high in the middle of summer and you really need help with accommodation.This kind of hosting is a tradition when large international festivals come to cities.Providing tickets to host families and individuals And you can say ‘thank you’.”

Before Musica! In 2023, VIMA will tour in Bulgaria and Italy before returning home and across the Grand Strand he will present 9 serious opera performances, along with 15-18 oratorio, chamber music and chorale performances.

“I have lived here for 27 years,” says Karin Chönev. “South Carolina is my adopted home and I am so excited to be back on the Grand Strand.”

“Karin experienced the power of music firsthand,” says Sharon Tchonev. This job is his mission. ”

Visit for performance dates, tickets and availability information.

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