There can be no doubt that the unprecedented experience of the preceding year has strongly shaken many areas of our daily lives. Even the arts weren’t immune to hard consequences – our concert halls remained shut for seven months. After all this time, the electric anticipation for new shared experiences and fine live music is immeasurable!
The year-long global crisis reminded us that maintaining optimism and being able to adapt quickly are fundamental skills for survival. We honed these skills to perfection during Festival Maribor 2020, where we successfully presented an internationally diverse and colorful festival of first-class music in the middle of the coronavirus year. Consequently, we can look back with pride – and look forward to the future with confidence.
In designing the program of Festival Maribor 2021 we were inspired by the desire to come together and to let go. We put our faith in spontaneity and challenged ourselves in that exceptional resourcefulness which teaches us to accept things as they are: When life offers you lemons, make yourself lemonade!
And if anyone can teach us about resourcefulness, it is the people of the sometimes volatile and unforgiving Western Balkans. There we find masters of adaptation, people who look at life with bitter wisdom and barbed humor. The wellsprings of joy are seldom to be found there but their rarity makes them all the more intense.
We have invited some excellent musicians from Southeast Europe to join us in the hope of bringing exactly this type of spontaneity and passion to Festival Maribor 2021. Our featured guest is the outstanding North Macedonian pianist Simon Trpčeski. A rather unusual pianist, he is one of the few musicians from the former Yugoslavia who was lucky enough to break into the very top of the international classical music scene – he performs regularly with the Berlin Philharmonic, on the biggest stages of London and with musicians such as
star cellist Daniel Müller-Schott, who will also be our guest – yet despite his worldwide success, Mr Trpčeski has remained authentic and faithful to his roots. Music flows through his veins and he remains a Macedonian from head to toe. After having conquered the world, he is increasingly devoting himself to the music of his homeland. His electrifying artistic diversity will be on full display at Festival Maribor, both as a master of classical repertoire and as a laid-back musician of fiery temperament and spontaneity who is joined by his exceptional colleagues from the region, also renowned musicians on the international classical scene, to create the Makedonissimo project.
Mr Trpčeski will appear on Festival Maribor’s opening concert with one of the most promising conductors from Southeast Europe, Romanian Gabriel Bebeşelea. Together with the Symphony Orchestra of the Slovenian National Theatre Maribor they will present virtuoso works by Franz Liszt, Zoltán Kodály and George Enescu, composers whose music is infused with the spirit of Eastern Europe.
The No Borders Orchestra, who so impressed our listeners with their audacious concert in 2019, will return to Maribor to close the festival. The ensemble, still successfully pushing boundaries, brings together exceptional young and internationally successful musicians from the republics of former Yugoslavia currently active in leading European orchestras. With their latest project, the orchestra turns the spotlight on an urgent topic that has characterized their artistic work generally: the No Return to Normality project draws attention to ecological issues in the (post-)coronavirus age, encouraging change with music of transformation.
Festival Maribor wouldn’t be the one we know without also offering captivating and unforgettable musical events for the whole family. This year the central event is the percussion spectacle A Symphonic Journey of Rhythm, featuring the celebrated Slovenian percussion ensemble SToP together with the Symphony Orchestra of the Slovenian National Theatre Maribor in a presentation that unleashes the sonic luxury of percussion instruments and music from around the world. As in previous years, families – including their youngest members – will also be able to enjoy piano music performed in a pleasant and relaxed atmosphere with pianist Adriana Magdovski.
Once more we are placing our faith in the magic which happens when musicians and listeners come together in person, in that true festival spirit which is infused with spontaneity and with the anticipation of discovering something new. So let Festival Maribor 2021 be a celebration of diversity and color, and of letting go; a time and place where exceptional and open-minded musicians can connect with their listeners. This connection is the essence, the heart of our festival. We would be happy if you would join us!
Barbara Švrljuga Hergovich,
Artistic Director of Concert Management and Festival Maribor,
Narodni dom Maribor