Hailed as one of the leading clarinetists of his generation, Ilian Iliev has been recognized for his exceptional artistry with enthusiastic accolades worldwide. “… a fabulous clarinet player… brilliant Bulgarian musician…” (Ron Emery, The Times Union, February 1997), “…wonderful clarinet virtuoso of extraordinary talent” (Ruth Laredo, Concert Pianist), “…excellent young clarinetist…” (Richard Dyer, Boston Globe, April 1997), “…big and bold…excellent…” (Classical New Jersey, November 2000), “…an impish clarinetist with formidable technique…”(Ron Emery, The Times Union, November 1995) is some of the critical acclaim Mr. Iliev has been receiving ever since he came to the United States to continue his education.
Mr. Iliev has concertized as a soloist and a chamber musician on major stages throughout Europe and the United States. He has appeared in Alice Tully Hall, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, Merkin Hall, Troy Music Hall, The Cultural Center of Chicago, Capitol Hill in Washington, DC etc. He has collaborated with top artists, orchestras and ensembles such as Frederica von Stade, Herbie Mann, Kurt Masur, James Levine, Ives Abel, Alan Gilbert, Daniel Hege, Ruth Laredo, Theodosii Spassov, Sofia Philharmonic, The Haddonfield Orchestra, the Jupiter Symphony, The Lark String Quartet etc. Mr. Iliev was featured as a guest soloist of The Lyric Orchestra of New York on AIDS Benefit Concert hosted by former President Clinton and chaired by Luciano Pavarotti.
Born to a musical family in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Mr. Iliev started to study the clarinet at the age of 10 with his father, Nicola Iliev, who is one of the most highly regarded folk clarinetists in Bulgaria. Eventually he entered the Music School of Plovdiv, studying under Prof. Sava Dimitrov. In 1992 he was awarded a Bachelor of Music Degree from The National Academy of Music in Sofia Bulgaria, where he studied under the tutelage of Prof. Petko Radev (Principal Clarinetist of La Scala Opera Orchestra.) Since his coming to United States, he has earned a Master’s Degree from The Mannes College of Music, studying under Peter Simenauer, and a Professional Studies Degree from The Juilliard School under Charles Neidich. In the year of 2001, Ilian Iliev was granted with permanent residency in the United States as “an outstanding artist of extraordinary abilities”.
Winner of the 1998 Artist International Competition, Mr. Iliev was a First Prize Winner of both the National Competition for Instrumentalists and Singers, Bulgaria, 1991 and the Radio Chamber Music Competition, Sofia- Salzburg, 1992. The same year he was awarded a scholarship from the prestigious International Foundation “Cyril and Methodius”, which is given to only two distinguished Bulgarian students every year. His appearances have been broadcast live by the Bulgarian National Radio and Television, Radio Hanover, New York WQXR Radio Station, Chicago Classical WFMT-FM Radio Station. In 1994 Mr. Iliev recorded Ljubomir Pipkov’s Clarinet Concerto for Radio Hanover, which was later nominated for the “Golden Fund Award”.
In addition to his classical upbringing, Mr. Iliev is a unique performer and of the music of Eastern Europe, which combines modal improvisations with jazz swing, “crooked” rhythms, plummeting key changes and ecstatic speed.