Portraits and Remembrance represent one of the main program features of Rossi Fest. This concert, which is held every January 27th, marking the World Holocaust Remembrance Day, is a result of the Open Call for Young Composers we have founded four years ago. Over the years, it has been a pleasure to follow up applications of young composers from all around the world, who expressed their different perspectives on the topic of the holocaust.
For the Rossi fest 2021 Programme seven pieces by composers from six different countries were selected, out of which three are based on poem A Bloody Fairytale by Serbian poet Desanka Maksimović - a poem we wanted to bring attention to in this festival edition. The composers have told us more about their pieces in short video-presentations.
Keeping in mind the current epidemiological situation, authors will mostly attend the rehearsals of their pieces live on the internet, while the Portraits and Remembrance concert will be screened online on Rossi Fest YouTube channel. By a unanimous decision of the jury, special awards were given to Lazar Đorđević for the piece 21st of October and to Bracha Bdil, for the piece My father`s death.
Distant Memories – Jonathan Domingo (Philippines) (world premier)
A Bloody Fairytale – Rose Hall (UK) (world premier)
There is still hope – Evgeniya Kozhevnikova (Russia)
Waren wir, sind wir, werden – Adrian Mocanu (Ukraine)
A Bloody Fairytale – Tamara Knežević (Serbia) (world premier)
21st of October – Lazar Djordjevic (Serbia) (world premier)
My father’s death – Bracha Bdil (Israel)
Dirigent: Radan Jovanović
Mina Gligorić, sopran
Ana Radovanović, mecosopran
Vuk Zekić, bariton
Jelena Španović, flute
Marija Lazić, oboe
Mihailo Samoran, clarinet
Dušan Petrović, bassoon
Mina Mendelson, concertmaster
Ladislav Mezei, artistic director of Jewish Chamber Orchestra
Boban Stošić, kontrabas
Vanja Šćepanović, klavir
Jonathan Domingo (Philippines) – Distant Memories
The work Distant Memories is based on the poem A Bloody Fairytale by Desanka Maksimović and revolves around the notion of remembering. This piece is my attempt to give voice to the essence of the poem by creating various soundscapes to evoke a certain image and emotion related to the text. The verses are portrayed through the use of different vocal techniques such as sprechstimme/gesang, narrated text, whispers in different volumes, etc (and also to present a technical virtuosity of the vocalist). The backbone of this piece is in the unique repeated stanza of the poem, presented in three distinct, unmeasured passages of music. The inner movements / stanzas are like dialogues between the vocalist and the instrumentalists. The entire piece is inspired by the movement of chimes and bells in the wind, and like memories—it lingers...and then vanishes.
Composer-conductor Jonathan Domingo graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Music with a degree in composition. His notable achievements include prizes at the Asian Composers' League Young Composers Prize, Singapore Intl. Choral Composition Competition and finalist diplomas from the International Antonin Dvorak Composition Competition and the Intl. Music Composers’ Forum and Competition. He is currently undertaking projects for solo piano and large-scale choral work.
Rose Hall (UK) – A Bloody Fairytale
I wanted to explore shared grief, but also celebrate the innocence and humanity of these children. I chose a small ensemble for intimacy with a warm sound world, utilizing the sorrowful haunting timbre of the reed instruments. I explore the theme of sameness, and how this was any normal day for these children with clockwork motifs and thematic repetition. The climax is not the moment of death, but at the hope of their future, and the anticipation of what will be lost for this generation.
Rose Hall is a British award-winning composer whose work focuses on telling narratives that challenge preconceptions through opera and contemporary music theatre. Her work has been performed across the world with notable works including: 'Mein Schatten', awarded second prize at the Wolf Durmashkin Award 2018, opera Dead Equal 2019 in collaboration with The British Army, and 2020 saw her work on digital micro-opera Wisdom of Stone for OperaVision which has been viewed by over 7000 people.
Evgeniya Kozhevnikova (Russia)– There is still hope
There is Still Hope by Jane K (Evgeniya Kozhevnikova) is a musical reflection after visiting the digital collection on the website of Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. The lyrics contain short phrases from the last letters written by the victims of the Holocaust (translated to English), which are now a part of Yad Vashem’s archive. It is the composer’s hope that the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis will never be forgotten.
Jane K (Evgeniya Kozhevnikova), a Fulbright Scholar, is a composer, pianist, and educator. Her works have been performed at regional, national, and international level music events. She has been working as a composer and a musician in theaters, performing original music with her jazz band, and teaching piano.
Jane holds her master’s degree in Music Composition from Western Michigan University. She is currently pursuing her second master’s degree in Jazz Performance at WMU.
Adrian Mocanu – (Ukraine) – Waren wir, sind wir, werden
The piece is an attempt to find the touchpoints of the poetry of Paul Celan and the musical heritage of Franz Schubert. Celan's life was deeply affected by the suffering caused by the Holocaust, which had been reflected in his poetry.
Based on excerpts from Celan's poem Psalm, the work also appeals to Schubert's Der Leiermann from Winterreise - a lied that may be seen as an apotheose of despair of Schubert’s iconic vocal cycle, which correlates with the tragic themes of Celan's verses.
Adrian Mocanu was studying composition at P. Tchaikovsky National Music Academy of Ukraine, and in 2019 started postgraduate studies in electroacoustic composition in Madrid, Spain.
He was the winner of the 38th Frederic Mompou International Award in Barcelona and received the 2nd prize at IV International Composition Competition GMCL/Jorge Peixinho in Lisbon.
His works have been performed in Ukraine, Poland, Russia, Estonia, Czechia, Austria, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, and the USA.
Lazar Djordjevic (Serbia) - 21st of October
The composition 21st of October is a result of a long term planning to turn into a musical piece a chilling and horrifying event of firing squad shooting of innocent people of Kragujevac, including a few hundred of pupils from schools in Kragujevac that happened on 21. October 1941. The piece is based on a poem by Desanka Maksimović A Bloody Fairytale. This work is progressively composed and mostly follows the form of text. The beginning of composition symbolizes the last school class before pupils and their teacher have been taken in front of a firing squad. The closing part of this composition where the baritone and the rest of the ensemble speak farewell messages of killed people of Kragujevac presents a culmination of the morbidity of this event.
Lazar Djordjevic was born in 1992 in Kragujevac. The compositions by Lazar Djordjevic were performed several times in the country and abroad. He was a participant in many festivals such as the International Review of Composers in Belgrade, Rossi fest, KOMA festival (for young authors), Festum, etc. For the composition Jednom sam negde čuo... for clarinet, accordion, and string quartet (2016) he received an international award for the best composition at the contest New Serbian Music for the Accordion at the International Festival of Accordions Eufonija. He is a prize-winner from the Stevan Hristic Foundation in 2015 and Josip Slavenski Foundation in 2017. He is the author of the first Serbian concerto for accordion and orchestra, which premiered in 2017. Lazar Đorđević is currently employed as an assistant at the Department of Music Theory at the Faculty of Music Arts in Belgrade.
Tamara Knežević (Serbia) – A Bloody Fairytale
The concept of this work is to evoke series of mixed emotions through changes of various auditory imagery that lead to final Alleluia; games and boyhood are presented with whistles, finger-snapping, clapping, and they are interrupted with the march rhythm of the drums, woes, and intensity of the text that is barely pronounced. Whispers, screams, a trembling voice of a mother mourning her lost child, lead to bel canto and gradually bring clarity to the melody, Alleluia of composition – a prayer for little angels that will remain eternal heroes.
Tamara Knežević holds a master’s degree in composition. She received her artistic education in the class of professor Miroslav Štatkić at the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, where she is currently in the last year of Ph.D. studies. As a Ph.D. candidate with a scholarship, she is a participant in the project Identities of Serbian music from local to global: traditions, changes, challenges by the Institute of Musicology of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Art in Belgrade.
Bracha Bdil (Izrael) - My father’s death
The work My Father's Death is a neo-baroque lamentation based on the words of Pnina Avni. This composition is dedicated to Prof. Alexander Tamir (Wolkowyski), a Holocaust survivor who, as an 11-year-old boy in the Vilna ghetto, composed the melody for the poem about the massacre of Ponar, which became one of the symbols of the Holocaust.
Composer, conductor, and pianist, has a Master's degree in Music Education and Composition from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance.
Bracha was awarded the 2019-2020 ACUM Award, Israel, won the first prize in the Wolf Durmashkin Composition Award, Germany (2018), and the first prize in the Yardena Alotin Composition Competition, Bar-Ilan University, Israel (2016). Her repertoire includes orchestral music, chamber, vocal and electronic music, as well as music for dance and theater.
Jewish Chamber Orchestra
Jewish Chamber Orchestra was founded in 2012 by Ladislav Mezei in cooperation with B'nei B'rit lodge of Serbia. The members of the orchestra are professional musicians of Jewish descent and their friends. The JCO's primary purpose is to present the music of Jewish composers, as well as the others, whose written work was inspired by Jewish themes. Their interpretations are related to tradition, culture and history of Jewish community of Serbia.