Village Harmony

Ivaylo Kouchev

Pepa’s musician husband Ivaylo Kouchev grew up in the city of Pleven in Northern  Bulgaria. He learned to play kaval (the Bulgarian end-blown flute) when he was 13 years old. He attended the prestigious Shiroka Lǔka National Folk Music School as a high school student. After further professional training at the Academy of Folk Music and Dance in Plovdiv, Ivaylo was hired as an instructor of both kaval and tǔpan (the Bulgarian bass drum) at Shiroka Lǔka.

After moving to New York City Ivaylo continued to teach. He was also in demand as a performer when Bulgarian folk groups came to the US to tour. Ivaylo has appeared on Broadway shows several times, and has been a featured performer and countless music events and dance festivals around the US.

He and Pepa recorded Bulgarian Traditional Folk Music at the Packard LIbrary of Congress for Audio and Visual Conservation in Virginia. In 2013 Ivaylo was recognized as an Apprenticeship Master Artist as a maker of traditional tǔpans by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.