Striking the Right Note

Striking the Right Note

by Susan Neuhalfen

When I first learned about Castle Hills resident Edward Kunchev, I was excited to meet this seasoned musician. After all, he had worked professionally for almost thirty years, singing in operas, concert halls with other famous musicians and all over the world. What I wasn’t expecting was someone so young.

Edward Kunchev has a fascinating story with many twists and turns. His father was a classically trained singer from Bulgaria who was forced to escape communism by hiding on top of a car and entering what was known as Yugoslavia at the time. He eventually made his way to Canada and met Edward’s mother and together they moved their two young sons to Texas.

Though Edward’s father never got the chance to sing professionally, he trained Edward classically in a style known as bel canto. It is a technique that helps a singer learn proper breathing and voice technique. Though it works well for classical and opera training, it works well for anyone who wants to sing any style of music. It is also great for teaching speaking techniques and acting.

“Because I know this technique, I have been able to complete several musical tours without straining my voice,” said Edward. “So many people lose their voice when they are on tour, but it is because they are not properly trained.”

Edward trains his clients in a more progressive form of the “bel canto” technique that he has put together over the years to incorporate all styles and genres of singing. He has clients who have been on American Idol and The Voice. He has also trained actors, radio personalities and public speakers.

“My version of bel canto will help singers find their natural voice as well as a solid singing technique,” said Edward. “People think I only teach classical music. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Edward himself has sung many forms and styles of music. He started by singing in church and leading worship services and even won several Christian singing awards. When he was 13, he performed at the Shannon Auditorium in Fort Worth with Leann Rhimes. In his first time performing with a live band he sung mostly George Strait music.

“It was our own little Grand Ol’ Opry,” said Edward. “It was a wonderful ting to do at that age and we were there every week performing for the crowds for about a year.”

At the age of 16, people started recognizing his talent and he was ready for more training though he had to travel to find it. He searched through several different universities before he connected with Sheila Jones Harms, a retired opera singer from Vienna who had trained at the Royal College.

“She is the base of a lot of my training in both language and musicianship,” said Edward fondly. “I really give her the credit for that.”

Edward went on a life journey between 1990-2002 where he would get an education that could never be found in a classroom. He wanted to meet opera singers because he wanted to work with them. He traveled to Vienna, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria and many more places all over Europe and stayed with friends while getting a top-notch education.

“I wanted to see an opera in Verona and managed to get into Arena di Verona and watched Aida,” he said. “It was so different than what we experience in the US, there is nothing like it.”

One thing about Edward that is truly odd yet very refreshing is his lack of ego.
While many musicians might be put out about singing in the chorus, Edward looks at every experience as an opportunity to learn.

“When you’re in the chorus of an opera you’re in a position to listen,” he said about his experience. “The things I’ve learned you cannot learn in a book.”

Edward could write a book about his career from playing Genghis Kahn to Tevye as well as training with so many famous musicians, and hopefully one day he will. After he graduated with a degree in music and journalism he opened up a studio in Castle Hills and started helping students to learn his style of bel canto while still performing on the side.

“If you are taught correctly, you can sing for hours on end, that’s what I teach my students,” said Edward. “It’s not just about singing. It’s about preserving your voice for the rest of your life.“

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