[Mokranjac] is our healthiest musician. The fruits of his healthy music are abundant and core, and its influence is stronger, it bears more and more fruits. Mokranjac brought strength and health to our weak and stunted music.
It is our happiness, we repeat, that he decided to give us only what will be useful and fruitful for us. Mokranjac wisely limited himself, not to what he knew best, but to what the society of that time could receive. Both in that attitude and in that work, one should look for, and that is where one will find, his realism, and that is where Mokranjac’s healthy – and great – genius is.
Petar Bingulac (1956)
At a time when health has become the most precious and most expensive word, we should remember these thoughts of the great connoisseur of music of Mokranjac, Petar Bingulac, and find inspiration in his wise observations, just as we can always, questioning our attitude towards the ancestor of the national school, find it in Mokranjac’s work and creation. The Days of Mokranjac 2021 will take place in the sign of that demand for realism, understood in the way of Mokranjac: to respect everything that the time in which we live brings and to show what true values are. At the time of the pandemic, music is endangered, especially choral singing, one of the main pillars of the Festival. It is a special pleasure that this year’s Choirs competition will be held, testifying that even in the time of all kinds of prohibitions and restrictions, ways were found for the singers to gather and play music together. The audience and the jury will be introduced to ensembles with a long tradition, such as the Mokranjac choir from Belgrade and Branko from Leskovac, as well as young ensembles from Kragujevac and Vrbas. The concert will be organized by one of our representative ensembles, St. Stefan Dečanski Choir under the direction of Tamara Adamov Petijević, if opportunities allow, the Bulgarian Milka Stoeva Choir under the direction of Sveta Stoeva, winners of the 2018 Choirs competition, and the male vocal ensemble Saint Seraphim of Sarov, led by Božidar Crnjanski. We also kept other program pillars of the festival – traditional exhibitions – by Dragoslav Ilić, art colony Echo of Music and by Milovan Krstić, programme Threads of tradition in Mokranje, conductors’ seminar, promotions of important publications, scientific forum dedicated to researching Mokranjac’s work with two guests, Miradet Zulić, PhD from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Nataša Crnjanski, PhD whose text was published in last year’s edition of Mokranjac, as part of the promotion of the magazine, which could not be held according to tradition on January 9th. In a reduced, chamber arrangement we will greet both opera and ballet artists. Our guests are the Faculty of Music Opera Studio under the direction of Dragana Radaković, performing Mozart’s opera Cosi Fan Tutte, which joins the celebration of Mozart’s great jubilee, and the ballet ensemble Una Saga Serbika, whose skills the Negotin audience has already had the opportunity to get to know. Our most important artists will contribute to the program excellence of the festival – violinist Stefan Milenković, who performs accompanied by Hilda Švan and dedicates his performance to the apotheosis of the dance, trumpeter Mladen Djordjević with Uki Ovaskainen, young excellent cellist Nemanja Stanković, string quartet 4 Strings with premiere presentation of the early quartet scores by Miloje Milojevic. The music of Serbian composers of different generations occupies a special place in their programmes, which is also an important mission of the Festival. This year, the RTS Symphony Orchestra with maestro Bojan Sudjić will perform at the closing, performing music of special symbolism and meaning – Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony and Shchedrin’s Carmen Suite. This year, Negotin is entering the map of cities that return to their traditional values and bravely and faithfully organize music events, celebrating the name of their great compatriot.
Sonja Marinković, selector of the 55th Days of Mokranjac.