Google translation of the original page in Serbian:
With composer Maja Bosnić about experimental music, challenges and new projects
Maja, how did music become your life choice?
I was raised by the biggest music fans I know and then it remained forever installed in the motherboard of my being system. I’m kidding, but I don’t really have another explanation either. My father graduated from FON and doesn’t even have a day of music school, but all his life he passionately researched, collected and archived music, staying in the libraries of foreign cultural institutes in Belgrade listening to records, and additionally ordering them from abroad, in all possible genres: from popular to instrumental – classical and avant-garde. My mother is a lawyer with a fantastic hearing and a trained voice. She graduated from the lower piano music school, and the high school of solo singing, and actively performs as a soprano in the choir of the Belgrade Singing Society to this day. Together with them, my brother and I grew up like that, without a single day passed without singing and listening to various playlists and albums together, so logically music became a big and important part of our personalities and accordingly, we both completely focused on music profession. I started music school at the age of eight, but I was by no means interested in rehearsing someone’s already written compositions, so I was very skeptical about what I really wanted afterwards. I was in the seventh grade of primary school when the bombing started in March 1999 and as the schools closed (due to an emergency), I decided that I had finished music school and was now free to access music however I wanted without I have to explain nothing to anyone. And so I started composing and writing songs for my fictional band, and then I gathered a few friends and we started rehearsing every day. In three months, we had a 12-song album ready, and I decided that it was my profession – to think and create music. So at the age of fourteen I enrolled in music high school, and so I began to study more serious theoretical and creative elements of music, after which my patterns and styles changed quickly and often, as a normal and logical consequence of the ingrained habit of constant research and discovery. . And here, the situation is exactly the same today. I continue to research, study, listen, try, and be sure to re-examine everything over and over again, as part of some of my eternal game.
You finished undergraduate studies in the class of Professor Milan Mihajlović, and received your doctorate from Professor Roger Redgate at the University of London. How has life in London affected you and your work?
I think that an important moment in my development was the final exam at the end of the third year of the study of Composition in the class of prof. Milan Mihajlovic. I received a lot of praise from other composition professors in the examination commission, and then everyone looked at how incredible it is for someone to form their specific original style so early, which was heard in all my compositions, at that time. I remember being happy, because I realized that I would get a high grade, but at the same time, an alarm went off in my head, after I heard the facts that I saw as a serious problem. Personally, I appreciate art the most when it manages to push me in a new direction, or to discover some new ideas and different views. That’s why I didn’t like the thought that I now “have my own recognizable style” and that is until the end of my creative life. I set out in search of an environment that could bombard me with all my knowledge and all the discoveries in the field of contemporary music, sound art, performance and multimedia art. So I went to London primarily because I needed to study well everything that had happened in music (and sound) up to that point, to have access to huge libraries and develop skills that would later help me to readily research, discover and ” I patent “completely new possibilities in this area. I applied and was admitted to Trinity College of Music, City University of London and Goldsmiths. After additional research on professors and ways of working, I knew that I would have all the necessary resources at Goldsmiths to improve to the maximum in this area, with special support for avant-garde trends, and I was not mistaken at all. Professor Roger Redgate has designed a specific master’s program in Composition, unique in Europe, with which classical music education receives a completely new organization of its roots, and additionally upgraded a wide space of further possibilities and orientations. Thus, until the end of my doctoral studies, I spontaneously became aware of some of my own conceptual artistic expression and typical aesthetics, which is inevitably hinted at in all my compositions, multimedia works and experiments, but which again has a constant tendency to re-examine and restart everything that seemed famous.
What is interesting in your work is that you have decided to replace the traditional concept of the concert with interactive stage installations in which the audience is not only an observer but also a participant. How did that idea come about?
I dedicated a part of my doctoral work in Composition to the research of the active participation of the audience in the performance of a musical work. In that way, I also had fun re-examining the traditional concept of the concert and then created several interactive stage installations performed by the ensemble and the audience who received instructions, or followed a “guide”. After the performance, each person from the audience could order a DVD with a recording of the performance and their name in the booklet, so they understand their participation more important, wish to understand the composition more and deeper and, I hope, open their minds to the genre of contemporary music and innovative ideas.
An interesting project PHONES: ON was held in the Belgrade Philharmonic Hall, where all compositions are performed with different use of telephones. How did the audience react to this unusual way of performing and what is your impression after this experiment?
The PHONES: ON project – a concert of new music with smartphones is actually a kind of fair of various works of contemporary conceptual music, in the performances of which phones are used in addition to classical instruments, video, audience and space itself. All the compositions on the program were premiered in Serbia, and that is why I am especially glad that all the seats in the hall were occupied, and the media wrote widely about the event. This shows that we have an audience that is interested in culture and that it is open to modern approaches and new ideas.
You are currently collaborating with the Muzikon Orchestra, which plays with the form of performing classical music. What is the challenge for the composer to adapt to the new ensemble?
One of the most beautiful segments of the composer’s work is the collaboration with the performers. Personally, I love to create compositions through a live workshop with performers, as well as to re-interpret and prepare already written compositions together with them. I was very pleased with the invitation of the Muzikon Orchestra to perform The Upgrade for musicians with phones, and at midnight on the terrace of an alternative art space such as Kvaka 22 in Belgrade. They were maximally dedicated to the preparations and performed the whole concert brilliantly. By the way, from 2017 until today, this composition has always been performed in smaller ensembles, and thanks to them, it was finally performed as it was originally conceived. I am deeply grateful to them for that!
This year you are participating in the Belgrade SAXperience festival. What can you tell us about that?
I am very happy to have received the honor to write a composition for the opening of the festival for the Duo Alloy from Vienna, which consists of great artists, especially dedicated to performing contemporary music: Mojca Pecman (saxophone) and Ana Markovic (piano). The concert was originally planned to be performed at the National Museum in Belgrade, however, due to the new circumstances surrounding epidemiological measures, the concert will be broadcast online and can be watched live on the festival’s YouTube channel on September 30 at 20:00. The duo Alloy will report on the premiere of the composition “pneumothorax (ˌnjuːməʊˈθɔːræks)” – a sound study inspired by the transformations of the meaning of one word, which was commissioned by the festival, intended for this particular composition.
Author: Dragana Ilić