Vanguel Tangarov has been all over the world with clarinet in hand, but now his journey has brought him to Texas State.
Tangarov, a new assistant professor in the school of music,was born in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, where he originally began lessons as a pianist. After some consideration and prompting by his instructor, Tangarov switched to clarinet.
“I wanted to play piano for a club band, but (there are not many) opportunities for a piano player,” Tangarov said. “My teacher referred me to Dimitar Boyanov, a clarinet teacher. Dimitar saw more in me than I (saw in myself) at the time, and I found that I liked it better. You can play jazz, pop, classical and almost anything.”
Tangarov continued his education in Bulgaria and became principal clarinet, equivalent to first chair, for the Sophia Philharmonic Orchestra. Tangarov traveled all over Europe with the orchestra and enjoyed experiencing different cultures during the tours. However, after several years, he decided he needed a change.
“A conductor from Monterrey heard about me and offered to show me Mexico,” Tangarov said. “I was then offered to teach clarinet at Superior School of Music and Dance. Monterrey is a fantastic place, so I brought my family with me to teach there.”
Tangarov and his family spent a few years there, while his wife taught piano at the school. As conditions changed in Mexico, he followed the advice of a friend and applied for a green card to the United States.
He worked as an instrument repairman in McAllen before moving to Austin. “I didn’t have any job, but I fell in love with the Central Texas area,” Tangarov said. “Soon, I sent (my) résumé to some band directors, and 20 days after moving, there was (a) position open in the Austin Lyric Opera. It was (a) big accomplishment and honor for me.”
There he met Genaro Gonzalez, principal percussionist for the opera and professor at Texas State.
“I really admired his tone and musicianship, especially the solos he did here and there,” Gonzalez said.
Tangarov went on to teach at various schools and universities, and was principal clarinet for the Mid-Texas Symphony and Victoria Symphony orchestras. Eventually he heard of an open position at Texas State, and got the job.
Along with his regular duties as an assistant professor, Tangarov plans to create two clarinet-only choirs. He said the Texas State Clarinet Choir would be open to all students to explore new repertoires to make a stronger clarinet section. The other choir he is developing will focus on helping younger clarinet players in surrounding schools.
“I am going to start inviting top players from high schools in the area to my Texas State Honors Choir,” Tangarov said. “This area needs something like that. No other college has a choir like this. I am hoping it will motivate them to continue playing and come to Texas State.”
Tangarov isn’t sure where his journey will take him next, but said he’s grateful for all the places he’s been.
“You can not plan what will happen—it all happened because this was my life. When I think of all that happened, I start to appreciate what I have,” Tangarov said. “Now I’m here and so happy to be part of this team.”