The second week of Project 22 will begin with a symbolic presentation of the Doček programme arch, within the Local Composers’ Night – Nexus Trio concert in the Egység Cultural Station tonight, 21 June at 7 p.m., on the World Music Day.
Doček – the unique celebration of the two New Years in Europe that emphasizes the intercultural identity of Novi Sad through cultural heritage and modern practice, is one of the eight programme arches planned for 2022, which are now presented to the public through the Project 22, the common idea of the ‘Novi Sad 2021, European Capital of Culture‘ Foundation and NEO Festival– non-classical festival of classical music.
The Nexus Trio band consists of excellent artists who have confirmed their reputation around the world – Mina Mendelson (violin), Aleksandar Jakovljević (cello) and Bojana Dimković (piano), with whom we spoke before their performance in Novi Sad.
You are participating in Project 22, which will present the concept of the European Capital of Culture programme for 2022. First of all, tell us how do you like the idea of making such an overture to the title year through music, local and world performers, at several locations in the city?
Some special energy that comes from this project is felt, and it is further transferred to all other institutions, artists and the audience. I have no doubt that the reaction is much broader and that this vitality comes from a serious idea and organisation. In the end, only with such an approach, the dedication and passion of the artists themselves can be seen. When we were invited to participate in the Neo Festival, I remember being pleasantly surprised by the fact that we were able to choose from several new, attractive venues that offer excellent conditions for performance. We are looking forward to performing in the Egység Cultural Station on the World Music Day!
Your performance, also called the Evening of local composers, will present the works of Serbian authors. Who are they and why did you choose them? What will the audience have the opportunity to hear?
The performance of the Nexus Trio is a rare opportunity to hear two premieres of piano trios by local composers. In the field of chamber music, this ensemble represents a rather traditional combination of violin, cello and piano, which has existed since the 18th century. And as it is the case with genres and forms in literature, most composers yearn to try and leave their unmistakable mark. The audience will definitely have the opportunity to hear it. We extremely like Aleksandar Sedlar’s piano trio number 1, considering that it is dedicated to the Nexus Trio: the music is phenomenal and I have no doubt that it will have a good response. In informal conversations with the composer, we often came to the conclusion that we, as classical musicians in Serbia, quite often play ‘other people’s’ music of past epochs. In that manner, I think the author has started something very important in this part. It is unusual that the second composition, the trio by Petar Stojanović, is also the premiere, although it was written in 1913. I don’t know why it has not been played: it’s quite complex and needs a lot of practice (laughs). But certainly both compositions are united by the idea of the heritage of chamber music in Serbia, from the perspective of late romanticism, which was the concept of the project from the beginning.
Speaking about local composers, how much are they appreciated on the European and world scene, and yet are they valued enough here in Serbia?
I am not sure if I can offer a realistic picture of the situation. From my perspective, local contemporary creativity is extremely fruitful and a large number of colleagues from the field, who are truly committed to it, have been hired. Unique ensembles are created as a result of personal contacts between performers and composers, which contributes to changes in the repertoire. I think that composers are extremely appreciated outside the borders of the country, as evidenced by numerous albums released by foreign performers and ensembles.
After the previous year, when everything stopped due to the pandemic, it seems that everything is somehow returning to normal. How did you ‘fight’ against the period without concerts and contact with the audience?
We all took advantage of the calm in different ways and allowed ourselves various kinds of break, re-examination, summarizing. Some of my colleagues were depressed because they did not see the point in preparing for the concert, not knowing if they would be able to hold it. For many, their existence was endangered (I am talking primarily about independent artists or freelancers who were faced with closed theatres and halls). A space opened up for me to practice and I took the opportunity. Therefore, I was able to introduce myself to the audience with a few interesting programmes in those moments when there weren’t many concerts. It was an honour to play to such an audience for whom music was obviously a kind of refuge.
Speaking of returning to ‘normal’, are you especially looking forward to some cultural event? Is there a cultural event that you will not miss?
For me, the situation is reversed: the last months have been so active with various projects and concerts, both on the piano and on the harpsichord, that I can’t wait for a vacation. I will not miss that this year.
Let’s go back to concerts, you played with many significant names on the big world stages. What is a bigger challenge, to play in such places or in front of a home audience?
The biggest challenge is to fulfil your own expectations and ideas, in everyday work and on the concert platform. However, the artist should be able to ‘feel’ the pulse of the audience. Not every performance is the same, it depends on many things, even geographical determinants. I am a supporter of the fact that the audience should be offered some context, especially if the repertoire is unknown, in the form of a note in the programme or a personal addressing. However, from experience, the most difficult thing is to play auditions and exams where you have a jury instead of an audience. This requires an additional level of mental preparation.
Will you attend other concerts within Project 22?
Of course, Rambo Amadeus Mozart sounds very tempting to me.
How do you see Novi Sad as the European Capital of Culture?
Summarizing the previous few months, I can say that I had the opportunity to hold exceptional concerts in Novi Sad. In addition to Project 22 (Festival Neo), there are Days of Baroque Music and Baroque Spring, which I remember fondly: the audience had a chance to hear the first recital on early piano in Serbia at the Matica Srpska Gallery, and I became one of the members of the Novi Sad ensemble for baroque music ‘Musica Antiqua Neoplantensis’ founded by Meila Tomé. For me, Novi Sad will always be a kind of capital for personal, nostalgic reasons. My father lived here in his youth while his father, and my grandfather, prof. Dragoljub Dimković was the rector of the University of Novi Sad. I am looking forward to 2022, as an artist and as a member of the audience!