Historical Bulgarian personal appellation, later used as pen name, which comes from the tradition of iconography in Eastern Orthodoxy; zografos (ζόγραφος (zógraphos)) in Greek means "painter" (from zoe="life" and grafos="scribe").
Zograf Strings Quarterly is a non-profit organization dedicated to paying forward our passion for chamber music by donating already performed programs to an economically underprivileged or socially disadvantaged group of people for either a symbolic fee, or completely free of charge. We operate under the basic philosophy that music is not just a necessary positive force in our culture, but it is also the pulse and lifeblood that connects other art forms. Our performances regularly feature artists working in other mediums such as painters, dancers, and poets, who enhance every performance and make for a unique audience experience.
Above all, we understand that art is universal but it is not universally accessible and we always strive to share with art-starved communities the education, inspiration and positive energy we’ve come to thrive on from performing chamber music over the years.
Meet the Musicians
Background and studies. I was born in Sofia, Bulgaria. After graduating from the National School of Music "L. Pipkov", I came to the U.S. to continue my studies. I received my Bachelor and Master degrees in Music Performance from LSU School of Music and Boston University respectively. What inspired you to become a musician? I think it was more of a process than a deliberate decision. As it is often the case, it was my parents who got me started in that field. Before I knew it, it was part of my life and part of who I am. What is your first memory with the violin? One of my earliest "musical" memories is about my father's piano being sold. I was about 4, I hadn't started learning any instrument yet but I loved sneaking in and trying to play the piano. I remember watching from the balcony as they carried it away. In what musical ensemble or setting do you feel most at home? Both solo and orchestra setting provide their own particular kind of satisfaction. As a member of the Portland Symphony Orchestra and Rhode Island Philharmonic I get to play quite a bit of orchestra repertoire. In addition, I regularly perform with various groups such as Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Odyssey Opera, Vermont Symphony Orchestra, among others. On the baroque side of the spectrum, I have performed with Handel and Haydn Society and Arcadia Players. As much as I enjoy the grand feel of the orchestra setting, the intimacy of a chamber group has always been a little more special to me. For me personally, it provides the right balance of individual expression, as well as more freedom interacting with the rest of the group. Some recent chamber projects include working with Castle of our Skins and Ensemble Parallax. What are your interests outside of music? Staying active is almost a necessity for me - Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu take up the majority of my spare time; spending time outdoors, whether running or walking. I often find it relaxing to bake in the early am hours, and I've had a fascination with interior design since early childhood. Something about yourself? I am allergic to platitudes.
Where are you from? Originally, I am from Sofia, Bulgaria. Educational background? In Bulgaria we have a specialized music school from first to twelfth grades- Sofia Music School “Ljubomir Pipkov.” After I graduated from it, I was accepted at the Bulgarian Conservatory and later transferred to Louisiana State University School of Music for my Bachelor of Music in Performance degree. I completed my academic education at the Boston Conservatory with Master of Music and Performance Diplomas. Your first memory with the violin? When I was just over four years old, my mother asked my brother and me to choose between the piano and the violin. We owned both instruments and my brother, as the older sibling, chose the piano first. With my four-year-old logic I thought that as the piano had already been taken, I had only the second option available to me, so I said I would play the violin but in reality, I wanted to play the piano. To this day I like it better. What brought you to the US? As any young person, I wanted to be someplace else. I chose the US, and LSU in particular, because I had a friend who went there before me. She made it sound like the transition was an easy one. And so I followed and never looked back. In what musical setting do you feel most at home? I would say I feel most at home as an inner voice, being that in orchestra or chamber music. Hence, it is a convenient circumstance that I play in the second violin sections of both Portland Symphony Orchestra and Rhode Island Philharmonic. However, that is not to say that I don’t enjoy playing the melody sometimes. What inspired you to become a musician? Frankly, I don’t think I began to play the violin of my own accord. My father was a musician and in Bulgaria it used to be that if your parents were musicians, then it was only natural for the children to take on music as well. And so I did as a child of a violinist. I think it was not until my early twenties that I fully resolved that music was something I chose instead of it choosing me. What interests you other than music? I like to read and write poetry, I like to be outside, to change and learn. Something about you? The cup is always full in my head and empty in my hands. And I love hats.
Massachusetts-based violinist Viktoria Tchertchian was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria and started playing the violin at the age of five. In her early years, she participated in solo, orchestra and chamber concerts throughout Europe. At the end of high school, she was selected to be one of the soloists in the Plovdiv Symphony Orchestra. In 1996, she won a full scholarship to attend Louisiana State University, where she studied with Kevork Mardirossian. In 2006, she received her Master’s degree in violin performance from the Longy School of Music in Boston. Ms. Tchertchian currently performs with the Portland Symphony, the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the Boston Pops, Springfield Symphony, and the New Hampshire Music Festival. She also teaches violin and chamber music at the Powers Music School in Massachusetts, the Manchester Community Music School and the St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire.
Benjamin Noyes grew up in Portland, inheriting a rich musical/pedagogical heritage from his parents. He found local acclaim immediately and while attending Bowdoin Summer Music Festival, Irene Sharp invited him to study in San Francisco where he attended the School of the Arts and San Francisco Conservatory’s preparatory division. He won numerous awards, including top prizes in NFAA’s ARTS Recognition, National Federation of Music Clubs, and National ASTA competitions, as well as being selected by Yo-Yo Ma to participate as soloist and recitalist throughout China to perform with the Beijing, Chengdu, Shenzen and Shanghai Symphony Orchestras. As a fellowship recipient he attended the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, the New York String Orchestra Seminar, Yale’s Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, the Sarasota Chamber Music Festival, the Aspen Festival, and Meadowmount. As an undergraduate, he attended Eastman School of Music, received his BM from Rice University and his MM from Northwestern University where he participated in the Chicago Symphony’s Civic Orchestra program playing under maestros Pierre Boulez, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Daniel Barenboim, amongst others. He held a position with the Naples Philharmonic Orchestra and various summer opera orchestras for five years before moving to Virginia to focus on teaching and performing. A multi-faceted individual, Benjamin has as many talents as interests. After a year playing with the Roanoke Symphony, Roanoke Opera Orchestra, Miami Symphony and adjunct faculty at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Ben is building a private studio and continues to garner acclaim for performances of solo recital programs, chamber ensemble concerts as well as various non-classical ventures. Pursuing the artist’s life has led him to collaborations and performances throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as teaching, coaching, and motivating individuals of all ages and professions. He also finds joy in many areas including but not limited to composing, recording, producing, drawing and writing.