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About Festival Maribor 2023

Hand in Hand

The reason music touches us so deeply is probably because it is able to express that which the consciousness only senses. Artists have been aware of this since the very beginnings of human creativity, which is why music was for a long time inseparably intertwined with verbal art. In the modern era, the two arts gained their independence, thanks to which we now have a rich treasury of instrumental concert music. However, the organic connection between music and words – which is still very much alive today, as we can witness in popular music, for instance – has a unique power to build bridges between the intangible messages of music and listeners, even those with less experienced ears.


It is precisely this play of words and music, the coming together of the conceptual and the non-verbal, that is the focus of this year’s Maribor Festival. And how exciting it was to design such a festival! Even when the basic concept was already quite clear, new dimensions of the broad field of connections and their effects came to light as the programme was being prepared. It was an experience of connecting not only artistic branches, but also their actors, two artistic worlds that seem to have forgotten that they once formed a single universe.

The initial impulse for the underlying theme of the festival came from outside. In 2023, Slovenia is the guest of honour at the prestigious Frankfurt Book Fair, so local cultural minds are increasingly occupied by literature this year. Based on the fruitful cooperation between Slovenian composer Vito Žuraj, who has enjoyed extraordinary success in Germany, and the Frankfurt-based Ensemble Modern, which is one of the leading ensembles for contemporary music, the idea for a special concert was born, a concert that would be a musical parallel to the writers’ presentations at the book fair, with a programme dedicated entirely to Slovenian contemporary compositional creativity. 

Thus ideas intertwined and projects arose. In addition to two concerts in Germany, Ensemble Modern, together with Slovenia's internationally renowned soprano Nika Gorič, will present their programme dedicated to Slovenian music and literature in Maribor, as well. It gives us special pleasure to present the premiere performance of the musical play for children The Star and the Heart, which was created by Nana Forte and Jure Ivanušič especially  for the Maribor Festival based on a text by Milan Jesih. Violinist Žiga Faganel, cellist Alja Mandič Faganel and pianist Nejc Lavrenčič will unravel the seemingly invisible threads that connect the work of Alfred Schnittke, Mieczysław Weinberg and Arvo Pärt, while the youngest visitors to our festival will enjoy the traditional concert for babies and toddlers with pianist Adriana Magdovski, which this year features carefully selected poetry for children interpreted by dramatic actor Davor Herga. We will host Maribor musicians whose names resonate throughout the world: in addition to pianist Nejc Kamplet and his brother Adam Kamplet, there is also a profound bond between father and son in Duo Atanasovski. The latter will be joined on stage by the Macedonian star Vlatko Stefanovski, who returns to our stage with a fresh version of his project Fire & Ice, which we have dedicated to the memory of Brigita Pavlič. Also returning from the Balkans is the No Borders Orchestra, one of the most intriguing European ensembles of successful young musicians. On this occasion, they will engage us with a programme entitled Embracing Vulnerability and with an uncompromising demand to reflect on ourselves.

The willingness to accept art and the effort we put into understanding it give rise to a need to face our own vulnerability. Like the musicians of the No Borders Orchestra, we believe that embracing our vulnerability demands courage and self-confidence. Part of this involves trusting the artists who risk everything on stage without a safety net, trusting them to guide us safely through complex musical thoughts and beautiful sonic landscapes and offer us an unforgettable experience. On traversing such a path, vulnerability can become an advantage, and the strength of music can become our strength.

Our thanks to all of the artists who dare to embark on the path of new discoveries and share them with us. We are also grateful to everyone who stands by us – every act of support contributes an important stone to the developmental path of our festival. And last but not least, we would like to thank you, our audience, who embark on this  journey with us and inspire us for new musical adventures with your responses.

The Maribor Festival 2023 is before us. Let’s embark upon it together and with open ears!



Barbara Švrljuga Hergovich
Artistic Director, Concert Management Agency of the Narodni dom Maribor Cultural Centre
Artistic Director, Festival Maribor

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