Etno – Ethno (εθνός)

Ethnical group, (gr. Ethnos, εθνός - folk) is a culture, or a subculture whose members differ from other people by defined features based on racial, national, lingual or religious sources. The members of an ethnical group are considered to be culturally and biologically similar, though, this is not, basically, necessary.

Ethnical groups share the same origin, in the time continuum, that is, they share history and future, of one people. This is achieved through cross-generation teachings and transfer of language, institutions, values and traditions, as well as the sense of belonging somewhere. These features are important to mention in order for the ethnical group to differ (by definition) from a common group of individuals that share the same characteristics, such as origin.

Pedija – Paideia (παίδεια) 

For the ancient Greeks, paideia (παιδεία) was a process of education of a person and it’s transformation to the ultimate, perfect (ingenious) form. Paideia also stands for culture. That’s the ideal by which the Hellenics create reality about themselves and their young ones.

Democracy, being of great value to Greeks, Paideia, combined with ethics made a man competent to be a valid citizen or king. This type of education was not contained solely in teaching about economics or art, but freedom, history and tradition as well. Peideia represents the cultural heritage of one nation, being transferred through generations.

The Great Folk Orchestra

The concept of the Great Folk Orchestra was accepted a long time ago, but it wasn’t sustained in our country. Apart from a few orchestras supported by the state, under supervision of radio and TV houses, it is a real rarity to hear a massive orchestra composed of young people. In our country, a Great National Ethnic Orchestra represents the top level of presenting the traditional folk music, as well as a symphonic orchestra for classical, or big band for jazz music.

All the countries surrounding us have an organized and systemized vertical of education of their young. That way, the transferring from generation to generation has evolved to a system which secures that the musical treasury of one country, not only stays preserved, but also enriched. That system has become a powerful weapon in presenting the country in the world, as well as a recognizable brand and a starting point for development of tourism and economy. Gathering inspiration from such preserved musical substance, other musical streams have prospered as well.

The begining...  

The idea about forming the Great National Folk orchestra with ambition to perform concerts was born in 1997. The architect of this concept was Aleksandar Petrović, nowadays successful opera singer, but also, an extra ordinary instrumentalist and arranger. Coming with rich experience from Academic Cultural Society “Sonja Marinković” to the biggest cultural society of Novi Sad, “Svetozar Marković”, he stumbled upon several experienced musicians, and with their help started the erection of the main frame of the orchestra. The first arrangements, originally written for his previous orchestras, were quickly mastered. Getting to know the people, widening the orchestral configuration and seeing the shared hunger for new arrangements, he started with creation of some new pieces, this time written specifically for the people currently playing in the orchestra. The majority academic musicians, disinterested by that time, began to see the potential of this orchestra and the working method within it. The orchestra was widening, and the names like Olivera Tatić, Silvija Kiralj (Davidovac), Emir Memedovski and others, created a stable basis for all the upcoming accomplishments. In the meantime, Aleksandar Petrović begins his professional solo career as a singer. Even though he was reasonably absent considering his work in orchestra, his advices, arrangements and influence are still one of the factors that make the orchestra stable.

The orchestra is being assumed by the members themselves, lead by Marija Nikolić (flute), and Goran Panić (clarinet). Marija Nikolić, then a student of flute in Musical Academy of Novi Sad, and Goran Panić, a clarinet player with, already serious, experience, continued the strategy of Aleksandar Petrović and crystallized the vision of great and strong orchestra. Solo concerts, TV shoots, cooperation with singers and studio recordings started coming up. The orchestra leaves for the first solo tours, which was, a very rare opportunity in the world of folklore in our country back then. Along with solo performances, the orchestra successfully follows all of the dancing sections of “Svetozar Marković” cultural society in our country as well as abroad. The orchestra wins many acknowledgements and prizes but more importantly, the concerts get the attribute of spectacle, and the audience, by then used to small orchestras and thin arrangements, finally gets the chance to enjoy the real musical/theatrical acts.

Recognizing the knowledge and the wish for quality performances, many of the acknowledged artists in the world of folklore, helped the orchestra with heart. Besides Aleksandar Petrović, we should mention Ivan Sabo, Gordana Roganović, Zdravko Ranisavljević, Vesna Bajić, and many more. The cooperation with these artists, as well as the influence of the academic musicians, contributed to the making of one of basic principals of today’s orchestra’s code, the MENTOR – STUDENT relationship. Some of the orchestra members, some already professors, had a clear image of what the way of prosperity of their young colleagues should look like. Guided by their own experience in folklore, along with adequate arrangements and performances, the new generations of musicians have grown. Ina almost all the elements, those young musicians have reached and overtaken their mentors and placed themselves in the world of traditional music. Let’s just mention, Dejana Zivkovic, Vasa Vuckovic, Srdjan Erceg, Zoran Milic etc.

The Time of Change  

  In the period of 2005, the members of the orchestra, encouraged by the material recorded in “Studio M” and with a few successful concerts, they make a turnover in the repertoire. The orchestra grows into a very powerful independent whole. The team of people is being assembled (among which we should mention the trumpet professor Ninoslav Svijić), which work on raising the level of organization and quality of orchestra functionality. Ninoslav Svijić i Marija Nikolić played a key role in obtaining the confidence of the other professors from the musical schools of Novi Sad, and contributed to the gathering of new members in the orchestra.

Vocal and vocal-instrumental pieces are taken more seriously. Orchestra gains some new musicians with a wish to prove themselves. One of them is Branislav Pavlović, multi-instrumentalist, who mastered the whole repertoire in a very short time, and starts the whole new string of ideas related to the work within the orchestra. Getting to know the musical and human qualities of his colleagues, Branislav Pavlović starts writing the arrangements for the orchestra.

In such and atmosphere, with extremely motivated and inspired members, the orchestra evolves into a market of young and creative musicians. Crossing their tastes in music, techniques of playing and a wish for experiment, some of the musicians start making their own bands, of different genre than the mother orchestra. Danilo Radunović and Vladimir Prošić form the “Maestralni band”, Srđan Erceg i Branislav Pavlović form a group “Boemi”, and Milan Pasula forms a “Badem” orchestra. Also another, already recognized form is being born, like Cabaret, where a lot of the members of the orchestra and their friends play, sing, dance, and act. With tendency to help others, some of the orchestra members become active in smaller societies, in order to transfer the quality and the atmosphere of work in the great orchestra.

The wish for change of the old forms of folklore performance and presentation in general, and the rhythm of actions could not be imposed to the mother society, “Svetozar Marković”. The members of the orchestra, therefore, decide to continue on their own, as an association of artists with a mission to preserve and cultivate the musical heritage of Serbs and other nations of Balkans. The musical archive of the orchestra, as well as the knowledge and the experience of its members, becomes available to all smaller and bigger societies in the region. The acquaintances of the individuals with most of the people in the world of folklore in Vojvodina and more, starts to develop into organized cooperation and imparting the professional help to everybody who is in need of it. The orchestra is finally given the opportunity to practically present all of the ideas related to the new forms and put a great emphasis to music production, as well as media presentation of the work of the orchestra. The orchestra gives a big contribution to the cooperation with Serbian folklore societies abroad by playing on the stage, or recording the choreographies, and becomes a strong link in maintaining connection of Serbs throughout the world with their motherland, Serbia.

Who Are We?  

Even though we play in different groups and perform different genres, we take our place in “Etnopedija” and a great honor and a privilege. Most of the members of our orchestra had a chance to represent their country and culture, through playing, in many small orchestras and cultural societies in almost all the parts of the world. Sensing the positive interaction between the audience and our melodies and rhythms, as well as realizing that this music will, almost certainly, be left without the audience in its own country without some additional effort, we decided to take the style of interpretation and the form of the orchestra to ha higher level.

The Music We Play

We don’t experience the traditional music as one that has the goal to survive and overcome the younger musical genres. The music we talk about has its roots deep inside our lives and our heritage. The musical motives that we come upon describe nature, love of the young ones, family relations, patriotism, etc. Those motives are met in all the genres spreading throughout the world through all the historical epochs. What’s the difference then? There is no difference!!! Music, as a global and flawless way of communication, puts sincerity as the basic goal of its existence above all the other values.

In the sea of different musical genres, emerged from combining new instruments, synthetic sounds, rhythms, cultural occurrences, the complexity of expression is not a need, but a consequence of the modern world. Human consciousness follows almost all the aspects of society, science, culture… Motives, events and persons put space and time limits to the music which describes them.

What we are doing, is trying to wake our listeners to hear sounds, sense smells and see images embedded deep inside all of us, by combining traditional techniques of playing and singing. By playing, performing and listening to the century’s old songs about love, sun, river, mother, we grow closer to the truth, and our perception of reality becomes clearer and simpler. So enriched we find strength and courage to see and express ourselves in this chaotic reality as better people with a mission and a goal.