Nedyalko Nedyalkov was born in 1970 in the town of Haskovo into a long line of folk musicians. Even as a young child, his interest in music was apparent. At the age of four, he made his first attempts to play the accordion. At seven, he started going to the music school in his hometown. Later he continued his musical education on the kaval, a traditional Bulgarian folk instrument and applied to the prestigious School for Musical Folklore in Shiroka Luka. While a student there (1984-1989), he developed his skills and abilities on kaval and was recognized as one of the most promising young musicians of his generation. In 1989, he graduated with honors from the Music School in Shiroka Luka and was immediately accepted to study at the Music Academy in Plovdiv. He received his diploma in 1993. During his student years, he performed as a soloist in the academy’s folk concert orchestra, as well as with many other groups.
Nedyalko won several first prizes at the National Competition for Young Performers in Pleven in 1986, 1988 and 1990, as well as the special prize for the best young performer at the highly competitive contest in Stambolovo in September 1990. From 1994-1996, he was a soloist in the Pazardzhik Folklore Ensemble and the Shoppe Ensemble in Elin Pelin. In 1996, he won a competition and was hired as a soloist in the Orchestra for Folk Music at Bulgarian National Radio, where he still plays today with a wide range of talented fellow musicians.
Besides having an excellent grasp of traditional kaval styles and techniques, Nedyalko also possesses one quality that is rarely found in other Bulgarian musicians, demonstrating his unique talent – namely, his mastery of the quarter-tone system, which is exceeding difficult to apply to kaval. He performs all manner of Balkan and ethnic music with ease and is able to masterfully imitate on kaval most instruments in the flute family from around the world. His style is marked by brilliant virtuosity, free and flexible improvisation, in which he expertly interweaves with much feeling and finesse different, often difficult types of playing. His music carries us away to an imaginary space without stylistic or genre limitations, pointing us towards a future without borders.
Nedyalko Nedyalkov plays with a wide range of groups, from folklore formations to wedding bands to jazz combos to classical ensembles. He has performed with renowned Bulgarian and foreign musicians, including Petar Ralchev, Ivo Papazov, Mladen Malakov, Stoyan “Stundzhi” Yankoulov, Milcho Leviev, Georgi Andreev, Angel Dimitrov, Georgi Petrov, Peyo Peev, Vladimir Karparov, the women’s folk choir Bulgarian Voices Angelite, the musical ensembles at the Bulgarian National Radio, the diva of Bulgarian pop music Lili Ivanova, Nedyalka Keranova, Kostadin Gugov, the Philip Koutev Ensemble, Stian Carstensen, Ross Daly, Fraser Fifield, Tcha Limberger, Pantelis Stoikos and many others. He has been a guest musician in numerous Bulgarian and foreign projects, including “Thracian Rhapsody” ,“Musiques Francophones”, “Traces of Thrace”, “Ikadem Orkestar”, “Kaba Horo”, “Balarom trio”, “Petar Ralchev Quartet”, “Aka Balkan Moon’’ and others.
His first solo album, The Art of Kaval, was released in 2004. Several of the pieces from that album have become his emblematic tunes, enjoying great popularity. In 1997, he founded the Nedyalko Nedyalkov Quartet, featuring the solo vocalist Stoimenka Outchikova. Nedyalko Nedyalkov has represented Bulgaria in various projects all over Europe, Africa, Asia, the Near East and North America. In addition to his concerts,he has also recorded music for film and theater,as well as for radio and television broadcasts. Over the last several years, Nedyalko Nedyalkov has participated actively in a series of international projects featuring musical styles including ethno-jazz, world, Baroque and ancient music.
In mid-2009, Nedyalko found himself facing a great opportunity and creative challenge which in and of itself marks a new stage in his professional career. He was personally invited by Jordi Savall, a prominent contemporary musician, conductor, and ambassador for intercultural dialogue around the world, to take part in a major new project by Maestro Savall and Montserrat Figueras entitled ‘’La tragédie Cathare”, which concerns the history of the Bogomilism. This encounter laid the foundations for joint creative work and cooperation that continues to this day and has resulted in numerous concerts and new projects, including “Mare Nostrum”, ”La Sublime Porte”, “Balkan Spirit”, Bal*Kan-“Cycles of Life” and “Dinastía Borja”, which was awarded a Grammy in 2011 for Best Small Ensemble Performance. For Nedyalko, it is a great honor and responsibility to take his place in the Hespèrion XXI ensemble and to share a stage with renowned musicians and singers from around the world. In conclusion, we can say that Nedyalko Nedyalkov is a typical and striking representative of the new generation of Bulgarian kaval players, who are open to world musical culture. He also teaches, leading kaval classes in Bulgaria and abroad. His music and his interpretive model have inspired many young kaval players, who have successfully imitated his methods. He has won over fans and followers in Bulgaria, as well as beyond its borders.