18/04 Sunday 20 h HGZ, Big hall Concert without the public (broadcast of the concert on Croatian TV)
Milko Kelemen: Concertante improvisations
Gordan Tudor: concerto scosso*
Ruben Radica: Lyrical variations
Stanko Horvat: Perpetuum mobile
Frano Parać: Two Movements for the Strings
The opening nights of the renowned music festivals always carry a certain weight; they take place at the most representable venues, have a multitude of guests and are often putting on impressive productions. However, with pandemic and post-earthquake circumstances in which the city of Zagreb exists, it is not surprising that the opening of the jubilee 31st Music Biennale Zagreb will take place in a smaller venue such as the Croatian Music Institute, and Zagreb Soloists are chosen to perform, a chamber string ensemble whose activity is tightly connected to the Croatian Music Institute and to the Music Biennale Zagreb. This opening is also strongly symbolic in a way because the building of the Croatian Music Institute, which is the property of society for music lovers of the same name since 1876, was severely damaged in the last year’s earthquake in Zagreb and it was partially restored through donations. The opening will direct the attention it deserves to the hall which is considered by many to be the concert venue with the best acoustic in town.
Selection of the venue and performers for the opening ceremony
„Numerous biennale concerts were held in the Croatian Music Institute, so it seemed like a logical choice for the opening ceremony on the sixtieth anniversary of the festival. Croatian Music Institute attained fresh, positive energy under the new leadership so my intention was to support its new and modern appearance. We commissioned a special installation that the MBZ will give to the Croatian Music Institute as a gift. When I was seventeen I decided right here at the Croatian Music Institute that I wanted to become a composer, after the occasion of the School day of  Blagoje Bersa Music School where I conducted my own composition to the school choir and for the first time felt success as a composer on a stage. I always remember that when I step into the Big hall. I think all Croatian musicians have very strong personal experience related to this venue and they feel connected to it.
Zagreb Soloists are a part of the MBZ program since its first edition in 1961. They remained closely related to the Festival and to the Croatian composers whose works they regularly incorporate into their program.
This ensemble represents the tradition of Croatian music and that is why it perfectly fits in the program on the opening day, simultaneously presenting the contrast compared to the Black page Orchestra that performs afterwards.” - Margareta Ferek-Petrić
Kelemen, Tudor, Radica i Parać
The opening concert will initiate with the work by the founder of the Music Biennale Zagreb Milko Kelemen (1924 -2018). Concertante improvisations (1955) for strings are one of his most performed works, considered attractive for its lightness, playfulness and unobtrusive polyphony.
A saxophone player and composer Gordan Tudor (1982) wrote concerto scosso / Shaken concert at the beginning of this year because it was commissioned by the MBZ and he dedicated it to Zagreb Soloists. “I started composing the concert one day after a devastating earthquake hit Sisak-Moslavina County. In a way, I wanted to honour the victims by avoiding the pathetic and overly requiemizing. The concert has a classical form; it is composed out of three parts. The first part is intended as a light remix of “old” music, the second part is a part of (quasi) jazz ballade, and the third part is the almost classical rondo” wrote Tudor on the only premiere on the program.

When you look at the list of Ruben Radica’s teachers, you will see that it looks like an imaginary list of who is who in the European music of the 20th century. Those people were: Milko Kelemen, Olivier Messiaen, René Leibowitz, Pierre Boulez, Henri Pousseur i György Ligeti. Under their influence, and especially under the influence of Leibowitz, Radica developed his composing style with the focus on expressivity and on the timbre. He wrote Lyric variations for strings in 1962.
A long-lasting collaboration of Frano Parać (1948) with the Zagreb Soloists resulted in numerous compositions, while some of them were anthological. Two movements for the string (2019) is the last one in the series of works dedicated to the Soloists and he wrote it for the 65th anniversary of the ensemble. 
Same hall, same ensemble, same composition – 50 years later
Stanko Horvat (1930 – 2006) is the author of a unique work with an almost romantic atmosphere, in which he brought to balance the avant-garde aspirations of its time and his own musical aesthetics. It is not by chance that his Perpetuum mobile (1970) is on the program of this concert. Fifty years ago , that is,  in 1971, Zagreb Solists had a premiere as a part of the MBZ in the hall of the Croatian Music Institute.
Zagreb Soloists is one of the longest-lived and the most respectable Croatian chamber ensemble. It was founded in 1953 as Radio Zagreb ensemble, under the artistic leadership of Antonio Janigro. They have been working continuously for more than sixty years and they performed almost 4000 concerts on all continents. Their repertoire covers a wide range from baroque to contemporary music, with particular attention given to performances of works by Croatian composers. Since 2012 Sreten Krstić is a concertmaster of Zagreb Soloists, who is also a concertmaster of Munich Philharmonic.