A violinist responds with dignity to US deportation

A violinist responds with dignity to US deportation


norman lebrecht

March 28, 2016

We reported yesterday that Yuliyan Stoyanov is about to be deported with his wife Smiliana and two US-born sons to Bulgaria after 14 years of study, teaching and orchestral performance in the US.

It appears all avenues of appeal have been exhausted. Yuliyan has posted this beautiful and dignified parting message to friends and colleagues:

Yuliyan Stoyanov

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for your support and kind words! They mean so much to us! If there is one thing we will miss the most, that will be the people, the wonderful friendships we have made in the U.S.

Smiliana and I choose to look at this turn-around in our lives as an adventure, as an opportunity. After all, who gets a chance at the age of 36-40, to quit everything they are doing, step back, rethink their life and start anew? With everything we learned at the University of Cincinnati and the experience we gathered through the years, we both are very confident that our work will be valued anywhere in the world.

We will keep working on the project to create high quality online violin education, so more and more people, even in places where there are no teachers and schools available, are given the opportunity to learn to play this beautiful instrument. We feel so fortunate to have two healthy, smart, and energetic boys, who give us a lot of joy and motivate us to keep going.

Thanks again for the great wishes and the positive energy! We wish you back good luck and lots of happiness!


  • RW2013 says:

    They will be better off in Europe. Congratulations!

    • AllanC. says:

      Absolutely. I love my country, but classical music, even though it is curated at a high level here and in other parts of the world (Japan, Korea, China, Venezuela…), is an European art-form. I was so lucky to study as a graduate student in England and Germany, and the love, support for, and interest in classical music can’t be compared to anywhere else in the world.

      London alone has more world world-class orchestras (LSO, Philharmonia, BBCSO, LPO, RPO, ROHO, AoSMITF, London Sinfonietta, OAE…) than 6 consecutive states in the east coast that have major cities such as Boston, NYC, Phill., Baltimore, Washington. In Germany there are 80 opera houses, all government-owned, each with a +48-week season in a country with 90 million residents. In America we can’t compete with that, not because of lack of talent (we are providing the world with the best singers and some of the greatest soloists), but because it doesn’t belong to America as much at it belongs to Europe and that translates in reduced audiences and lack of founding both from private donors and government.

    • cherrera says:

      Europe? You mean Germany and Austria, where there aren’t any violinists? Or Italy and France, where there’s too much money and not enough orchestras and opera houses? Or Europe in general, where there are no unions protecting existing jobs?

      China is where the market is.

  • herbglass says:

    As one who has not followed this story, please clarify. Why are they being deported?

  • Dennis says:

    Disgraceful behavior by the US immigration authorities. If they were Mexican or Muslim, of course, the Obama administration would rush to offer them immunity from deportation.

  • esfir ross says:

    This violinists, probably wasn’t able to get Greene card or naturalized for 14 years living in USA even having USA born children. Remember Elena Lev that got violin position in San Francisco Symphony that didn’t provide Greene card and had problem. She’s still playing in orchestra but did she get naturalized? Maybe, Michael T.Thomas had connection and influence. Stoyanov didn’t realized how serious it ‘s in USA.

    • MacroV says:

      Living in the US for years on student visas doesn’t entitle you to permanent residency, neither does having US citizen children.

      There are a lot of foreigners in major U.S. orchestras and it would be interesting to get a comment by someone in their administration about how they deal with it, but I would imagine that they are usually able to make the case – simply because they can show the person usually had to beat out 100 other well-qualified applicants to win the position – that the person qualifies for the appropriate visa.

    • Max Grimm says:

      Regarding Elina Lev, she is currently on an O-1B Visa (for “individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry”) which is valid for a period of three years and in her case will expire on July 14th, 2017.

  • Marg says:

    I wish them good luck and with their gracious and forward looking attitude plenty of doors will open. In a decade they may well recognise it as one of the best things that happened to them.