Second premiere in Cantus Ensemble's celebratory cycle '20 for 20'
The next premiere in the CA – 20 for 20 cycle features Melancholy Variations by Tomislav Uhlik. This time the performer is Mirjana Krišković, a harp player who has been a part of the Cantus Ensemble for 13 (happy!) years.
As a composer, conductor, choirmaster and music pedagogue, Uhlik has built a fruitful musical career with more than one hundred works he has written so far, working at the same time with members of the Lado (National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia) and collaborating for more than twenty years with the Croatian Radio and Television Tamburitza Orchestra. Persistent, dedicated and long-lasting compositional work, especially in the field of traditional and choral music, has secured Tomislav Uhlik a place in numerous concert programs, affection and commitment of his performers, but also awards such as last year's Porin Award for lifetime achievement.
Although Uhlik discovers the potential of traditional instruments in contemporary music precisely through his creative and authorial approach to traditional music, this time he found himself in company of twenty composers presented on the occasion of Cantus' 20th birthday as the author of one of the most famous Croatian works for harp, certainly a favorite among harpists. Melancholy Variations from 1991 combine the melancholy of traditional music and the poetics of the vocal music that are so frequent in Uhlik’s opus. He says that he started writing for the harp following the encouragement of the harpist Marija Mlinar, to whom the piece is dedicated. In addition to first-hand advice, he also benefited greatly from Rajka Dobronić-Mazzoni's Book on Harp, intended for composers. “If I became a successful harp composer, it is because I take into account what is playable with ease and what is not. I also like to use the harp as a part of different ensembles. My professor, composer Stanko Horvat, sometimes expressed himself picturesquely: 'If you want to immerse all this in water, then add a harp.' And I am a water sign – Scorpio!”
This time we submerge ourselves in Melancholy Variations in a performance by the harpist of the Cantus Ensemble, Mirjana Krišković, a longtime member of the Croatian Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, who has been performing with Cantus for the past 13 years – “despite” the fact that she experienced her most difficult challenge with the ensemble already in her first concert, getting to know Stockhausen’s demanding score Kontra-Punkte.
Mirjana's fiends and co-workers say that she is a colleague who they can always rely on and who alleviates stressful situations with her smile and spontaneity. Her calm and solid exterior hides a musical fire just waiting to surface. By no means predictable - in one moment Mirjana will be gracefuly plucking the strings of her harp, while in the next you will see her energetically, determined and full of strength helping carry her instrument up the stairs.
Playing, exploring and learning about the unimagined possibilities of her instrument, Mirjana has many times since “come out of [her] comfort zone in situations in which only the Cantus Ensemble can place me.” Remembering the tours to China and Amsterdam, her favorite project is the opera performance in Osor, and she concludes her thoughts on the work of this interesting ensemble by saying: “We fill the halls with interesting programs, introduce future generations to contemporary music and open new horizons for them.”
Watch Mirjana's performance on Wednesday, May, 5 at 8 PM: