Pleven philharmonic orchestra was founded in 1953 by the distinguished Bulgarian conductor Sasha Popov who was also the founder of the “Royal symphony orchestra” – the predecessor of the present-day Sofia Philharmonic. This finally crowned the numerous efforts of Pleven community in the orchestration sphere with success. The first concert took place on 6th September and its soloist was the notable Bulgarian conductor and pianist, the patriarch of Bulgarian music art – Pancho Vladigerov, whose name was given to the National Music Academy in Sofia in 1995.
In the course of years Pleven philharmonic orchestra has been conducted by an artistic pleiad of renowned conductors: Nikola Kazassov, Stefan Vachev, Dragomir Nenov, Alexander Vladigerov, Ivan Bakalov, Emil Yanev, Vlady Anastasov, Dimitar Karagyozov, Kamen Goleminov, Dimiter Manolov, Plamen Jurov, as well as Dobrin Petkov, Konstantin Iliev, Ruslan Raychev, Ivan Marinov, Yordan Dafov, Tzanko Delibozov, Vassil Kazandjiev, Emil Tabakov, Yordan Kamdzhalov, Grigor Palikarov, Nayden Todorov, Angel Stankov, Slavey Tinchev, Deyan Pavlov.
Indisputable credit for the orchestra artistic development and recognition both in Bulgaria and abroad is to be given to Maestro Georgi Notev who was, with some interruptions, the orchestra chief conductor from 1973 to 2008. Pleven Philharmonic high professionalism resulted in its participation in concerts and festivals, tours in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Romania, Greece as well as recordings for the National Radio and Television and for a number of foreign sound-recording companies.
Pleven turned into a focal point for a line of famous Bulgarian composers such as Pancho Vladigerov, Marin Goleminov, Veselin Stoyanov, Alexander Raytchev, Dimitar Nenov, Pencho Stoyanov, Victor Chuchkov, Mihail Pekov, Georgi Kostov, Krassimir Taskov who took part into their own concerts or participated as guests in the performance of their musical compositions.
From 1970 to 1994 Pleven Philharmonic also acted as an opera orchestra for “Hristo Brambarov” Pleven Opera. The first performance of “Lud Gidiya” opera by Parashkev Hadjiev was on 8th October 1970. Up to the opera close-down more than 50 opera, operetta and ballet compositions were performed.
Pleven philharmonic orchestra repertoire includes musical compositions from all styles and ages as well as a lot of premieres of symphonic and opera pieces.
Orchestra soloists have been a lot of world renowned musicians such as Nedyalka Simeonova and Georgi Badev, Gena Dimitrova and Kaludi Kaludov, Hristina Angelakova and Iordanka Derilova, Emil Kamilarov, Dina Schneidermann, Milcho Leviev, Tihon Hrennikov, Stefan Popov, Igor Oistrakh, Oleh Krysa, Yovcho Krushev, Ludmil Angelov, Vanya Milanova, Sunny Lee, Alexandru Tomescu, Svetla Krasteva, Sung Ju Lee, Michel Lethiec, Bobby Yotzov, Bülent Evcil, Mariana Panova, Rosen Idealov, Amir Gvirtzman, Eirik Gjerdevik, Edelina Kaneva, Mario Hossen, Elsa Cassac, Yavor Zhelev, Amihai Grosz, Vladlen Chernomor, Plamena Mangova, Marc Bouchkov, Yossif Ivanov, Lucy Diakovska, Svet Stoyanov, Vassilena Serafimova, Ari Boutris etc.
Visiting artists of Pleven philharmonic orchestra have been some outstanding conductors from Europe, Asia and America such as Constantine Orbelian, Šungo Moriâma, Olivier Holt, Berislav Skenderović, Boguslav Davidov, Diane Wittry, Eckart Preu, Yuriy Yanko, Yong Chil Lee, Rudi de Bouw, Hideaki Hirai, Etienne Abelin etc.
The orchestra takes part in concerts as part of the festivals “New Bulgarian Music“, “Varna summer”, “Sofia musical weeks”. “Apollonia” and a lot of other prestigious musical forums. It has organized and regularly participated in the International music festival Laureate days “Katya Popova” in Pleven since its founding in 1966. Hundreds of young and talented singers and instrumentalists, prize-winners in prestigious competitions from all over the world, have been orchestra soloists for the past 50 years (30 festival editions). In 2006 Pleven Philharmonic organized the First national competition for young opera singers “Gena Dimitrova”.