Meet LP duo!


Sonja Lončar and Andrija Pavlović have been playing and working together for more than a decade. We wanted to know when and where they “clicked”.

SONJA: We met by accident, outside the college where we studied...actually, we didn't even know each other during our studies but met at the student radio where we both worked. And then we talked about how we would both like to play Messiaen's Visions de l`Amen, but until then had never been able to find someone who would do it. That was our first cognizance. We performed the work at the Summer Festival in Belgrade and that's how it all started.

After that they went to Germany to further their studies...

ANDRIJA: Shortly after that first concert we went to study in Rostock, Germany, where there is a special class for piano duo taught by Professors Hans-Peter Stenzl and Volker Stenzl.  We studied there for four years and completed our postgraduate studies.

Their repertoire mirrors their tendency towards classic and contemporary authors…

SONJA: During my studies I always collaborated with contemporary composers such as Vladimir Pejković, as we were in the same generation. I performed his works because it's important that contemporary music lives. Contemporary music is rarely performed and composers are always having difficulties finding good performers. Over time, our taste in contemporary music has formed and now that is our focal point of interest. Although a  part of our repertoire is classical, we constantly explore and look for new compositions. We enjoy it!

They especially highlighted their collaboration with the composer Kim Helweg…

ANDRIJA: This collaboration began completely spontaneously. After we heard one of their compositions for two pianos and percussion, American fantasy, we immediately fell in love with that music. We found Kim by browsing the web and contacted him. And have been collaborating for ten years now. (…) He is currently writing a work for analog synthesizer for us. Kim Helweg also wrote for the project on which we have been working for a long time, but will present for the first time at the Zagreb Biennale. Collaboration with him was a cognizance. He has exactly the same taste we do. We like that all genres merge, intertwine in his works. What’s important to us is that music is good, not whether it's a performance of classical or contemporary music.

How and why did they decide to play on analog synthesizers? What drew them to it?

SONJA: Even before we met, we had a small collection of analog synthesizers, and were into different types of music, but we've decided to merge contemporary music with analog synthesizers as it is rarely, almost never, performed on this type of instrument. We started with Ligeti, whose composition we arranged for analog synthesizers, and have continued with works of different composers. It was important to us  to expand this sound image, besides piano. Analog synthesizer is a special type of instrument since the sound is created on the spot. These are not the programmed sounds preloaded into the synthesizer, but are filtered on the spot. This sound is very organic and in a sense acoustic as is the piano, and the possibilities it offers are vast.

ANDRIJA: It is not easy to play synthesizers as, unlike piano, they don't have dynamics, but a lot of work is needed to create sound and that is what’s the hardest: to create a quality sound, to preserve it and cherish it.

What should we expect at the MBZ?

LP duo: The program is very specific and extremely important to us as for the first time we will perform together the entire concert on pianos and analog synthesizers at the premiere in Zagreb. These rare and special musical instruments created in the 1970s and 1980s are, along with piano, our old love and a strong part of our identity. But until now we have primarily used them in other areas of our work – in composing pop and applied music (for film and theater). Generally speaking, when you look at the history of music, they have been used in the same manner – always more a part of the popular culture and rarely or almost never used in contemporary classical music. But the boundaries have long ago been erased and something that has once seemed almost incompatible is no longer so. The program of this concerts proves it as it contains the elements of minimalism, jazz-rock and contemporary classical music. We create such programs because we want to perform all the music we love, regardless of the period it belongs to, and each carefully prepared concert program has its own dramaturgy. Some of the works we have chosen for this opportunity, together with the Biennale's music director, were originally written for pianos or harpsichord (as is the case with Ligeti's work). We created arrangements for pianos and synthesizers. In addition to works by Kim Helweg (premiere), we could actually say that – considering the instruments and the joint setup of piano and synthesizers – all works will have their premieres. The most important criterion when choosing a program is the quality of music, that is, to perform a work we need to strongly identify with it and fall in love with it. Only in doing so could we present it to the audience in the right way and then all is well.