Born into a family of mechanical engineers, Ivo Ivanov started musical study at age 6 in the pre-college conservatory of his native city of Rousse, Bulgaria. He graduated with honors from the College of Music in Rousse at 18, fulfilled his service in the Bulgarian Armed Forces and later continued his studies at the State Academy of Music in Sofia. After playing in the Sofia Philharmonic for two seasons, he moved to the United States in 1994 to earn his master's degree at Southern Methodist University. He then started a doctoral degree at the University of Houston, and joined the FWSO in 1997. He lives in Arlington with his wife, Stacey, and their daughter, Josephine.