Velislava Franta

Pianist, Composer, Piano Teacher

United States



I am a pianist, composer, and piano teacher, born in Bulgaria and now based in the USA. I have been playing piano since the age of six. As a child I liked making up little piano pieces, but I never wrote them down and never thought of myself as a composer. I did compose a couple of inventions and fugues for a Counterpoint class in college and found the process both challenging and fun.

Since 2014 I have been composing music for the services of the Orthodox church in order to meet the needs of small church choirs. My goal is to create music that follows the rhythm of the English language, has a natural melodic flow, and can be sung by 1 or 2 singers. I find inspiration in traditional chant and also Appalachian folk music.

I started composing for the piano in the 2020, in order to keep myself occupied while in lockdown. I am an avid fan of Korean dramas, so I tried to imagine myself as a film composer writing music for these shows. I thought of composing as a form of fan fiction. I wrote a piece, recorded it, and then shared it in a Korean drama discussion forum. The response was very enthusiastic and encouraging, so I just kept going. My major inspirations are music of the Romantic era, film music, and contemporary Minimalism.




What does music mean to you personally?

I see music as a way to communicate on emotional, intellectual, and spiritual level.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy? Yes. I would add that music is also about imagination, invention, and ingenuity.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

Maybe an apprentice at a bakery? I love sourdough bread!

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

Not really. Sooner or later, good music and good stories always find their audience. The work of curators with excellent taste is crucial for that. No computer algorithm can replace the human connection.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

In the 21st century, music has become something taken for granted, not that different from entertainment and background noise. In order to see a transformation of the music‘s role, it is up to us, the listeners, to examine and change our listening habits. Maybe spending some quiet time will make us realize how important music is to us, and next time we listen to music we will be more appreciative and engaged.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

I don‘t think that the musicians of today suffer a shortage of creativity. Imagination and ingenuity have always been the driving forces of the creative process. I see creativity in two roles in the musical process: the actual creation of a new piece of music, and finding a creative way to reach and engage the audience.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

I would try to collaborate with artists from different fields: visual artists, dancers, actors, poets, writers, filmmakers...

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

Most of my pieces are inspired by Korean dramas. If I get struck by an idea, emotion, or a scene from a show, I try to find a title that not only expresses the above in a concise manner, but also invites and engages one‘s imagination. Mysterious titles are the best! Sometimes I come up with a title very fast, other times I have to spend some time thinking about it. Once I have a title I try to figure out how to express it with music. What key should I use? What rhythm, texture, or style? One of the recent pieces I composed was „Under A Strange Moon,“ mini variations on Satie‘s „Berceuse“ from „Enfantillages Pittoresques.“ I thought that Satie‘s piece sounded very strange because it was difficult to determine what key it was in, and yet there was also a very soothing and calming quality to it. I found the juxtaposition of unfamiliarity and comfort very intriguing and explored it further in my own piece.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

Just listen without prejudice. Do not be afraid to try something new.

Do you think about the audience when composing?


What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

I am working on a new piano piece, and also on a choral piece I need to finish for an upcoming online composition workshop. I see every project as an experiment.