strikes a chord with choir group
(May 2002) MADISON, Ind. When asked why students
and adults alike should study music, Madlen Batchvarova explains, Seizing
the opportunity to bring a score to life, to recreate the emotion that
the composer must have imagined, is exciting for those who perform and
Batchvarova speaks about music with the same level of enthusiasm she
displays when she takes the stage as conductor of the Hanover College
Concert Choir and Chamber Singers. She took over as the colleges
director of Choral Programs last summer. A native of Sofia, the capital
of Bulgaria, Batchvarova is an only child of her mother, a teacher,
and her father, an engineer. Music was a significant part of growing
up, Batchvarova said.
(front row center) poses with some of
her choir students at Hanover College.
My mother taught herself to play the accordion and
served as the choir director for a local school, and my fraternal grandfather
sang with a beautiful tenor voice.
Though she does not remember the defining moment in which she decided
music was her calling, Batchvarova credits her mother and grandfather
for encouraging and inspiring her to begin piano lessons at age 5 and
exploring her love for music.
Her exploration became dedication as Batchvarova was admitted for undergraduate
study to the renowned Academy for Music and Dance Art in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
The academy offered her an intensive and rigorous schedule of courses
in piano and choral conducting and performance, and later the opportunity
to travel all over Europe, to Canada, and the United States. She even
served as the guest conductor of the Plovdiv Academy Womens Choir.
One such choral trip proved fateful. While taking part in a choral fest
in Atlanta in 1991, Batchvarova made friends who would eventually help
her come to the United States to continue her education in music.
After graduating from the academy with the Medal of Honor, a high distinction
in then-communist Bulgaria, and working as the conductor of the schools
womens choir, Batchvarova became intrigued with the idea of graduate
work in music.
I didnt speak any English, and my friends from Atlanta were
encouraging me to come to the United States for a masters program.
I thought they were crazy, Batchvarova said, laughing.
But knowing in her heart that she should not pass up the opportunity,
she enrolled in English courses and applied to Georgia State University,
where she was accepted for masters work.
Reflecting on her arrival to the United States, Batchvarova said, Coming
to Atlanta knowing a handful of people and the basics of English showed
me how strong a person I could be. But I still cant believe my
parents let me go.
While at GSU, Batchvarova began performing with the Atlanta Symphony
Chamber Chorus, making recordings for Telearc of Rachmaninoffs
The Bells and Adams Harmonium, the latter
winning a 97 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance.
While performing with the chorus, Batchvarova sang during the opening
ceremonies of the Centennial Olympic Games, held in Atlanta and at Carnegie
Hall the latter she describes as a pinnacle performance and an
Batchvarova relocated from Atlanta to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to earn her
doctorate degree in choral conducting from the University of Alabama.
While at Alabama, Batchvarova conducted the Tuscaloosa Community Singers,
a university-community collaborative choir comprised of citizens of
the greater Tuscaloosa community.
Equipped with her doctor of Musical Arts and teaching and performance
experiences, Batchvarova arrived last summer at Hanover College.
In her role as director of Choral Programs, Batchvarova teaches a literature
of music course, individual voice instruction and conducts the two leading
college ensembles, the Hanover College Concert Choir and Hanover College
Chamber Singers. Batchvarova says she enjoys conducting her choral groups
because though the choirs are made up of students of all different
majors, each student has the spark the love of music.
Colleague and Music Department Chair, C. Kimm Hollis, speaks highly
Madlen far surpasses what we had hoped for. She is a very fine
academician and musician a rare find and a gem in our department,
Batchvarovas future goals at Hanover College include building
a strong choral program that is well respected among liberal arts colleges;
exposing her students to the great master works from the Renaissance
to the contemporary; and most importantly, helping her students appreciate
and respect the skill required to make music and the diversity of music
As part of the latter, Batchvarova is planning to expose the rich cultural
tradition of her homeland of Bulgaria by researching lost
music scores, hidden in monasteries from the 12th to 19th centuries.
And just as she participated in her Tuscaloosa community, Batchvarova
is doing so in Hanover and Madison, conducting a choral workshop at
Madison Consolidated High School, singing at local churches and contributing
to the successful Christmas performance of Handels oratorio Messiah
by the Madison-Ohio Valley Community Chorus.
Jane Jakoubek, Ph.D., Dean of the Faculty, Hanover College, best sums
Batchvarovas impact on her students and community, saying, Madlen
Batchvarova is passionate about music and its potential to enrich our
lives. She wants both the choir members and the audience to experience
music as a celebration of life.
Her background has taught her that music is worth hard work and
self-discipline. She wants her students to acquire the same standards
of excellence that have enabled her to succeed.
Jakoubeks added that Batchvarova has already contributed in significant
ways to the college and local community. I believe the impact
of her work here will grow in remarkable ways over time, she said.
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