Global Music Awards Winner, Marta Simidtchieva

“I am trying to establish a new curriculum that can incorporate something interesting while maintaining all of the features that students classically learn from.”–Dr. Marta Simidtchieva

Professor of Cello at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Dr. Marta Simidtchieva recently released a collection of Bulgarian compositions, winning a silver medal through the well-known international music competition, Global Music Awards.

A native to Bulgaria, Simidtchieva began studying music at an early age and refined her talents at the Bulgarian State Academy of Music. While working on her doctorate at Florida State University, she came across numerous pieces of interest by Bulgarian composers and decided to start collecting them. Through a Seed Grants for Transitional and Exploratory Projects (STEP) at SIUE, Simidtchieva was able to do develop her special collection into a CD entitled “Bulgarian Sketches,” distributed globally.

Simidtchieva’s collection is not just for those that appreciate music though–it is intended for students, academics, and composers alike. Central to her goals in generating the collection was to introduce new and fresh pieces to music curriculum. “It was important to find pieces that would be appropriate at both high school and college levels while maintaining the same basic learning objectives,” said Simidtchieva. “To create the collection I had to sift through over 300 pieces of music to find compositions that would function on an academic level and appeal to audiences.”

In the fall, Simidtchieva visited high schools around Illinois introducing her new collection to classrooms. “When it comes to teaching music, we have a succession of pieces that we traditionally instruct from. These pieces have become a staple, but I am trying to establish a new curriculum that can incorporate something interesting while maintaining all of the features that students classically learn from,” she commented.

Simidtchieva’s collection has been a great success among teachers and students alike, but she stated that her project is far from over. Outside of a desire to make an entire collection with chamber music, she plans to apply for grants that will support the more mathematical side of things. “I want to survey teachers and determine if they would like to add new collections like this to their curriculum. With a statistical approach, I hope to show that there is a necessity for modernizing our music curriculum” (Simidtchieva).

“Bulgarian Sketches” was released last year (June 2018). Colleges around the country have been very receptive to it with numerous requests for the sheet music. Simidtchieva will be presenting some of the pieces from the collection and discussing the pedagogical benefits at the American String Teacher’s Association next month in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Her silver medal award can be viewed here: http://www.globalmusicawards.com/ and you can view/purchase her modern collection of Bulgarian music here: https://www.arkivmusic.com/classical/album.jsp?album_id=2273332.

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