20 for 20 – members of the Cantus Ensemble present themselves as soloists for the ensemble’s 20th birthday
For 20 years, contemporary music in Croatia, especially that of Croatian authors, has been living, breathing and communicating through a unique collective of creative individuals – the Cantus Ensemble. The ensemble emerged in 2001 as part of the Zagreb Music Biennale and under the auspices of Croatian Composers’ Society (HDS), fulfilling the long-standing need for an ensemble that will continuously and devotedly care for contemporary music, its authors, promote and present them “at home” as well as abroad.
At its very beginnings, the Cantus Ensemble’s founder and artistic director, Berislav Šipuš, introduced and paved the way for the ensemble with these words: “Cantus is also a desire to approach contemporary music with high performance and professional criteria, as well as a want to discover the New and the Unknown – and this is what brought us all together. And we want this Journey, which is just beginning, to be as interesting as possible, to last as long as possible and to always be filled with Curiosity and Wonder…”. The searchers for the unknown have never grown tired, and with their enthusiasm and dedication, the ensemble persistently takes up new stories and always conquers new heights. Looking back, while we celebrate the ensemble’s 20th birthday, it is quite clear that it not only succeeded in its primary mission, but went a step further, proving to be an irreplaceable factor in Croatian culture.
Commemorating the great 20 years of Cantus’ journey, we will have the opportunity to enjoy in 20 compositions by Croatian composers selected for this occasion, in 20 outstanding solo performances by members of the Cantus Ensemble, those people who are the indispensable factor of its success – 20 for 20.
Martin Draušnik – Berislav Šipuš: Il piccolo catalogo dei sospiri
From the very beginning of the Cantus Ensemble, violinist Martin Draušnik has been a guest member, and later a permanent member and the second violin of the ensemble, with whom he says he had the most vivid memories on the Canadian tour in 2014, when the ensemble’s concerts were followed by a big snowstorm. However, today they recount only beautiful recollections from that journey. Martin, who has had the honor of serving as a concertmaster in the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra for ten years now, is known by his colleagues as a dedicated, meticulous and diligent musician, performer and collaborator who strives for excellence, and also as a calm and witty man, while he jokingly describes himself as – strange. The explanation lies in the fact that he especially likes the complicated scores he often encounters working as a member of the Cantus Ensemble, finding in them a sort of challenge – to play everything that is written in the score. Though he chooses the adjective “strange”, he is a master for everyone around him – he achieved one of the greatest solo feats with Cantus, in the Croatian premiere of the demanding Concerto for Violin and Orchestra by György Ligeti.
The first performance in the 20 for 20 cycle belongs to Martin, considering that he brings the interpretation of Berislav Šipuš’s composition, who is the founder and artistic director of the Cantus Ensemble. As part of his Cantus Ensemble mission, Šipuš encouraged commissions by Croatian and international composers, reinterpretation of anthological 20th century pieces pieces and promotion of valuable, often less performed works of our and the world’s predecessors of contemporary music genres. This has been the Ensemble’s policy from the very beginning of the ensemble’s career, supported greatly by its founder. With the support of the national Croatian Composers’ Society, Šipuš involved the Ensemble in international projects, linked them with similar groups abroad, and raised them in the international music community as an association which should never be brushed aside. Šipuš is not only the initiator of the Cantus Ensemble but an important spiritus movens of the entire contemporary music scene in Croatia, its promoter and advocator. In addition to 20 years of working with the Cantus Ensemble, his work with the Asmangu Ensemble (Ensemble for contemporary music of the Music Academy Zagreb) is important as well, since here he educates the new generations of contemporary music lovers, and perhaps some new generations of Cantusians.
“A Little Catalogue of Sighs” interpreted by Martin is a continuation of Šipuš’s series of poetic works for solo instruments. The composition reflects the author’s special connection with Osor because the music was written, as Šipuš says, “in the shade of the Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary in the town of Osor in 2019” where he found inspiration for this work dedicated to solo violin, which will come to life eight months later and as a part of his extensive Sinfonie concertante for violin and orchestra. “Everything I carried in my head poured out on music sheets in those five days in August 2019; I tried to connect a series of small blocks with contrasting motifs into one meaningful whole, looking for a balance between the virtuoso, strong loud and powerful passages and those quiet, meditative, melodic, introspective, almost sentimental lines.”