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Album Review: An Immigrant in New York
Dimitri K.
Cover image of the album An Immigrant in New York by Dimitri K.
An Immigrant in New York
Dimitri K.
2023 / Dimitri K. Publishing
18 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
An Immigrant in New York is an orchestrated instrumental version of the musical Dimitri K. wrote and composed based on Mr. Val Ivanov's life. The musical was called Under Manhattan Skyline and was originally staged at the Queen's Museum of Art in New York in early 2001. The album is sub-titled "musical crossover between continents and cultures, attitude and altitude in the heart of manhattan" and the music is beautiful and heartfelt. Because of the orchestral instrumentation, the album has a classical feeling, but there are also pop and new age influences that keep it accessible to a wide-ranging audience.

Val Ivanov's story is compelling. Very briefly, he was only 14 in 1948 when he and his parents crossed the border from Bulgaria, which was occupied by the Red Army, into Yugoslavia amid gunfire from the border guards. Many difficulties ensued, including being stuck in a refugee camp and being wrongly imprisoned, until he was finally able to join the US Army with the promise of US citizenship after serving for five years. Ivanov was reunited with his parents in 1958, went to college, and worked a number of jobs in New York City. Long story short, he was eventually hired by New York Life Insurance as an agent, worked his way up into management and went on to win the coveted Chairman's Trophy for ten consecutive years and a total of thirteen trophies. In 1997, New York Life built a new office building for Ivanov's offices. A true rags-to-riches story, Dimitri K.'s music reflects the challenges as well as the triumphs of Val Ivanov's life.

I can't imagine anyone being able to tell Val Ivanov's story better than Dimitri K., who also left Bulgaria to come to the US in 1990. He was hired by the New York Life Insurance Company in 1999 and Val Ivanov was his boss. The two became friends and often swapped stories about their past lives in Bulgaria and their journeys to America. At the time, Dimitri was a composer in his spare time and was so inspired by his boss that he decided to honor him with this musical.

An Immigrant in New York begins with "Overture," a piece that often expresses a dreamy kind of optimism with occasional hints of a harsher reality. "Confidential" has a feeling of urgency and movement as it tells of Val and his parents crossing the border into Western Europe. "Shadows of the Past" is reflective and nostalgic in some areas, and more agitated and dramatic in others, very effectively expressing a mix of emotions. "Alternatives" is about finding a direction while considering a variety of choices. "Struggle" tells of when Ivanov joined the US Army based in Frankfurt, learning along the way that no matter what challenges you encounter in life, staying true to yourself pays off. "Evolution" is about helping people change their lives for the better without losing yourself or your own identity - by remaining a unique individual and leading by example. The final track is a 30-second snippet of Dvorak's New World Symphony - a perfect close to a very inspiring story and album.

An Immigrant in New York is available from Amazon, Apple Music/iTunes, and many streaming sites including Spotify. You can also listen to the album on Dimitri's website. Check it out!
July 19, 2023
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