Concert: Dessislava, Dan, Benton, Zara


The Vivian E. and Robert W. Rice Sunday Concert Series


Dan Galat is a violinist, musician, and educator living in Chicago, IL. Dan received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in violin performance from Indiana University. After school, Dan freelanced with various orchestras in Indiana and Kentucky, taught 5th grade orchestra, and was the managing director for a music education nonprofit.  Upon moving to Chicago in 2017, Dan played as a member of the Chicago Civic Orchestra for three years. Currently, Dan plays orchestral music, chamber music, and new music at various venues around the city as well as serving as the orchestra director to Urban Prairie Waldorf school.

Zara Zaharieva, violin, was born in Pleven Bulgaria and started studying the violin at the tender age of 3. There was always great music playing in her childhood and youth. From Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Janis Joplin, Yes, Chick Corea, Jamiroquai, Dave Weckl, Sepultura to Pantera, Johann Sebastian Bach and Mendelssohn, Zara was influenced by the greats from an early age. She attended the music school Panayot Pipkov in Pleven where she spent her middle and high school years training in classical music, sky diving and martial arts. Zara moved to the United States right out of high school, and she won a full scholarship to DePaul University to study with Stefan Hersch at age 19. Later, she continued her education at Northern Illinois University where she studied classical violin and chamber music under Shmuel Ashkenasi. While at N.I.U., she was further exposed to jazz and other styles of music through her classmates and via live shows in Dekalb and Chicago. Zara drew upon her eclectic musical background to develop and showcase her wide-ranging musical talents.  She played in all different kinds of groups including jazz combos, chamber groups and orchestras at NIU, thereby solidifying her skills performing in various musical genres.

Benton Wedge, viola, is a member of the Music of the Baroque, Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. He performs frequently with Lyric Opera of Chicago and The Grant Park Symphony. He is formerly a member of the Orquestra Metropolitana de Lisboa and the Fidelio String Quartet, based in Lisbon, Portugal, where he also performed numerous solo recitals. He has served as principal violist for the Sarasota and Spoleto Opera Festivals, as well as the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. He has appeared on Empire, The Oprah Show and Home Alone 2! He has performed live with numerous artists including Hugh Jackman, Michael Buble, Seth McFarlane, and many others. As a composer, his music has been performed by the William Ferris Chorale, the choir of Old St. Patricks Church, 4spiel, the Covington String Quartet, and members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra. He has composed, transcribed and arranged for many recording projects.

Dessislava Nenova, cello, originally from Plovdiv, Bulgaria, holds an MM and DMA in Cello Performance from Michigan State University. Dr. Nenova is a top-prize winner of nation-wide competitions in her native Bulgaria as well as in the United States such as The National Competition for Young Artists “Svetoslav Obretenov” in Provadia, Bulgaria, and the MTNA String Competition, Collegiate Division in Los Angeles, California. She has performed as a soloist with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra, the University of Central Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, the Michigan State University Wind Symphony, Michigan State University Women’s Chamber Ensemble, and mirabai. Dr. Nenova has concertized throughout Europe, Canada, the United States, and Puerto Rico. She has recorded for Horizons Productions, GBP Studios, Harvest Music Sound and Design, Blue Griffin Recording, INC, Chicago Recording Company, and Uptown Recording. Dr. Nenova can be heard on many classical and pop music records as well as on National Public Radio with the Grammy Award winning MSU Children’s Choir and mirabai.