Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart & Hanan Hadžajlić, Jug Marković, Ana Pandevska, Nina Perović, Petra Strahovnik, Helena Skljarov
BALKAN AFFAIRS is a Biennale project aimed at opening up space for the development of young composers in the Balkan region, encouraging them to exchange ideas and understand each other’s cultural similarities and differences. That is, the war that led to the breakup of Yugoslavia and the challenges of transition, which is in fact the fundamental preoccupation of all compositions, created unequal conditions for composers living in different Balkan states. Although they were just beginning their lives when it took place, these six composers (and many others) from every part of the Balkans, from Slovenia to the Republic of North Macedonia, are still affected by its consequences to this day. Moreover, the extent to which the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine has also contributed to the unfavorable parameters cannot be overemphasized. This project seeks to provide equal opportunities to all six composers, while also striving to encourage the region to reconnect through a contemporary and more inclusive perspective. Cooperation with an internationally renowned European ensemble, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, as co-producer of the project, will undoubtedly contribute to this effort.
Given all of the above, it is the composers’ memories—whether just outlines or a coherent story—as well as a highly critical perception, that are much freer precisely because of the lack of memories, of conscious participation and implicit understanding of (pre)war events, which were essential in creating their musical universe. With the voice as a symbol of character, resilience, weakness and strength, the composers will seek to explore the consequences of war, sometimes in combination with (live) electronics and video projections, sometimes in electro-acoustic style, and sometimes completely without electronics and, for example, in the form of a rondo or something more abstract. The number of vocalists will vary from composition to composition, and various performing techniques will also be presented: from traditional singing to hyperbolized breathing and screaming.
At the rehearsal in which the composers will also participate, the six performers of the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart will try to give life to their multiple approaches, while taking into account their overall personal—and not just composing—experience. Lastly, the voice will reveal thoughts on the duality of wartime roles and events, refugee situations, violence, profiteering, inflation, statistics, power in the era of globalization and the overall turbulent human history, both using the text and its immanent expressiveness, devoid of laws of language.
Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart:
Johanna Vargas, soprano
Susanne Leitz-Lorey, soprano
Truike van der Poel, mezzo soprano
Martin Nagy, tenor
Guillermo Anzorena, baritone
Andreas Fischer, bass
Hanan Hadžajlić, Requiem Ex Machina*, for six amplified voices
Jug Marković, Nula*, for six voices
Ana Pandevska, Electroacoustic mantra From Ex YU to EU, for soprano, mezzo soprano and fixed media
Nina Perović, Penetrations III*, for six voices and electronics
Petra Strahovnik, SCREAdoM*, for five voices, sound installation and electronics
Helena Skljarov, The Blue Giraffe*, for five voices, electronics and video
*first performance – co-commissioned by the 32nd MBZ-HDS and the Musik der Jahrhunderte Association and the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart Ensemble