The Story of Artistic Director
Quality has always been my guiding star
What are your first memories of the MBZ?
It is actually absurd, but I do not have any memories of the Biennale from my childhood, as the surroundings and home in which I grew up provided a great love for music and art, although contemporary music obviously did not have a significant role in it. However, I started following the MBZ during my so-called teenage years and I have always been fascinated with the productions of large ensembles such as orchestra and choir in the Lisinski Hall.
Speaking of the firsts – you are the first woman director of the MBZ in 60 years, do you feel any additional implications in your role in that regard?
When choosing a program, I feel responsible for a conscious gender balance in the selection of the compositions. The fact is that there are excellent women conductors out there, but they are still underrepresented in the festival programs, which led me to invite two individuals of international renown to take over the conductor’s baton. Looking at the previous programs of the Biennale, I also noticed that acoustic music was neglected, in particular the women composers of this type of music who do not receive adequate exposure, so in the program collaboration with the GRM-Ina Institute, I concocted a concert titled “Female Heroes of Acoustic Music.”
Quality has always been my guiding star and I do not compromise because of someone’s gender, but I do want to act consciously in the present, and also in some way rectify the women who were neglected in the program selections in the past. And I do believe it would be really a shame not to strive for gender balance in the 21st century. Much more needs to be done in this area and all organizers should be aware of this sentiment.
I imagine the Festival of this caliber as an adaptive piece of art that changes its color, structure, and form
Given your life experience and artistic activities abroad, what were your guiding thoughts when defining the guidelines for this year’s program, what was particularly important to you?
As always – versatility! The contemporary music scene is immensely rich and branches into a large number of micro-styles and individuals, and I wanted to show just that, that breadth of creativity and the abundance of creation, to go beyond the academia, but also to create through this Festival a sort of common platform that brings together as many creative people and audiences of all tendencies and ages as possible.
What things do you see and can single out as different in relation to previous festival years?
Unfortunately, at this moment I would have to say – the epidemic and the earthquakes. In fact, I will not get to experience an intense Biennale week at this first festival under my artistic direction.
Due to an unfortunate turn of events, this year’s Biennale is also taking place in a different period. How did you deal with this? Do you see in that some possible advantages?
I believe that the whole point of the festival is to unite the audience and the acts in a single time period that is dynamic and intense, so that this splitting into blocks is a compromise considering the current situation. On the other hand, it often happens that one cannot possibly attend all programs one would like just because everything is condensed in a single week, so I look at this year’s version as a sort of an experiment.
What new experiences did this organizational function bring you, did anything surprise you?
Of course, I encountered a lot of firsts in practice, and I am learning at every step. Those not into this business cannot imagine how much work is invested into a festival of this caliber – for all parties involved.
For 2023, I already have a concept in mind that deals with burning topics.
From your perspective, what do you think the MBZ means to today’s younger generations, those that have not had decades of experiencing this Festival? Do they have a sense of its power and significance?
The MBZ certainly has its own tradition and reputation that has followed it for generations and anyone with any interest in contemporary music is well aware of its status and impact. I believe that by this opening of the program in many directions, the festival is being brought closer to the younger generations. I imagine the Festival of this caliber as an adaptive piece of art that changes its color, structure, and form for each of its editions, and in doing so is opening a dialogue between audience of all ages, the city of Zagreb and contemporary music.
What kind of the MBZ do you envision in the future?
The Zagreb Biennale and Croatian composers should gain international exposure, something I hope to achieve through international collaborations and co-productions. I want to create a combination of innovative ideas that come together in different creative, educational and communication contexts, an event that addresses current artistic and social issues.
The Biennale is a window into the world for Croatian composers and audience as well as a stage for creative works from many different generations and styles, but it is also a place where Croatian and international names may freely express, a place where it is possible to create unforgettable concert, concepts and contacts. The Festival that is important at the national and international level is a fertile ground for future generations of creative persons and intellectuals, but it can also increase the cultural reputation of its home country. For 2023, I already have a concept in mind that deals with burning topics such as environmental sustainability and artificial intelligence.