“I am just the musician who is experimenting and trying to find her path”
A violinist endowed with surprising sensitivity and virtuosity.
One of the most requested and respected interpreters of the Bosnia-Herzegovina’s music scene.
By César Campoy.
-When you hear the word “Sevdah”, what feelings come to your mind?
-I feel proud for playing such a beautiful, interesting musical form.
-How would you explain Sevdah to someone who knows nothing about it, its meaning and how to live it?
-I wouldn’t explain anything. I don’t think that music should be explained. Anyone who hear the sound of Sevdalinka can say if he/she feels something or not.
-Is there a limit on experimentation and modernization of the genre?
-Certainly not. There shouldn’t be music police controlling around. Everybody should experiment and play with it. There are a lot of unfortunate results of this freedom, but also a very productive, beautiful music. And that is the only way of dealing with music.
-And what are, for you, the geographical boundaries of Sevdah when you are seeking inspiration or references? Throughout history, there have been songs, considered sevdalinkas, upon tunes from Sephardic tradition, Serbian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Greek…
-I do not see music, or people, pure, untouched from influences. People change, music change, boundaries change. The only boundarie is in the way we think about something and on the maps. The nature is whole, with its differences. There are many songs across the region with Sevdah atmosphere, and that is what connects us.
-What has the Sevdah given you, vitally and professionally?
-I must be honest and say that, as a young person, I didn’t listen much of Sevdalinka or played it. When I started to play it, I discovered many interesting ornaments and forms in this particular Sevdah sound, and that made me excited. Today, I play Sevdah a lot, and it is the main music genre I am in. It gave me the opportunity to play many concerts around the world, to discover my own way of playing, to meet many interesting people and to be in the company of excellent musicians.
-And how do you think you have contributed to the history of the genre?
-I am just the musician who is experimenting and trying to find her path.
-Do you agree with the tag “New Sevdah”, or do you think it is nothing more than a logical evolution?
-Love the end of this question, because it is a logical evolution.
-Do the oldest generations understand the modernization of Sevdah?
-Mostly they don’t. They are used to the old sound of the Radio Sarajevo production and they don’t want us to “ruin” Sevdah.
-It seems that the genre has been doing very well in the recent years. Where can we find the future of Sevdah?
-I hope not in the kafana only. It is good that Sevdah is entering the world music scene.
-Throughout history, when has it been the best time for Sevdah?
-Well, today is not the bad time, but in the past, Radio Sarajevo produced those excellent singers and musicians who we consider as the mainstream Sevdah today.
-And the worst time (by decline, musical arrangements, instrumentation with no sense…)?
-I would say the same as the best time for Sevdah, because that was a huge production, and when you have huge quantity, it’s impossible to have huge quality.
-Some say that the Sevdah, at times, has been close to Establishment; even speaking of gender as an artistic creation related to upper-middle class. Has Sevdah an ideology? Is it a genre, definitely, that belongs to the people?
-I think that it belongs to the people.
-Will there come a time when the big audience (international) will understand that the term “Balkan Music” goes beyond turbo-folk and fanfare?
-Hopefully. We are doing our best to make it happen. I would love to see Sevdah as an art form widely.
-Top 5: Sevdalinka instrumentalists (musicians).
–Miki Petrović (violin), Ismet Alajbegović Šerbo (accordion), Jovica Petković (accordion), Selim Salihović (saz), and there are many interesting Sevdah players today, even if they don’t think they’re playing Sevdah.
-Top 5: Sevdalinka composers.
-People, Jozo Penava (who wrote many beautiful songs), Jovica Petković (who wrote one of my favorite songs), Damir Imamović (who is giving Sevdalinka a completely different perspective with new themes) and Ismet Alajbegović Šerbo (wrote few beautiful and important songs, but also contributed in instrumental Sevdah music as an important composer).