Combining Landscapes, Traditions, Sensibilities, and Centuries

After the world premiere of the project “In Search of Our Musical Roots” in Podgorica, the daily newspaper “Pobjeda” published a review by journalist Dragana Erjavšek, titled “Combining Landscapes, Traditions, Sensibilities, and Centuries”, which we have the pleasure to publish in its entirety.

PODGORICA – The project “In Search of Our Musical Roots” premiered nine new compositions, at the core of which are the traditional sounds of nine authors from the Western Balkans combined with contemporary expression.


Under the conductorship of two maestros, Antonijo Kitanovski from Štip and Vladimir Nikolov from Belgrade, the twelve-member orchestra succeeded in its mission to connect not only authors, but also landscapes, traditions, sensibilities, and centuries in one sumptuous musical story.



The concert opened with “Sara(h)”, a composition by Mario Nikolić which, apart from the tactful and expressive introduction of the rhythm section, was marked by a dialogue between trumpet and saxophone. Nikolić gave primacy to the theme that sounded familiar and assembled the background around it just as confectioners decorate cakes, gradually intensifying the central points. The mentioned dialogue between two wind instruments was one of the best moments of the concert.


Vocal artist (which is a more appropriate word than soloist) Maja Rivić from Zagreb had the status of a real star. Attractive in approach, with a wide spectrum of imagination and a powerful voice that varied from a whisper to a scream during the concert, the guest from Zagreb (otherwise a permanent member of the Mimika Orchestra) performed in six compositions, and somewhat was “stealing” them from the authors by subjectivizing them in those first performances. She caught the momentum already in the second composition “Intertined Treetop” by Nevena Pejčić; in “Mesopust” by Mak Murtić she reconstructed the carnival spirit of a small Mediterranean town, while in the composition “Schleicher’s Tale” by Ljubomir Nikolić she became, without any exaggeration, the entire orchestra. During only one program she showed that she is good at jazz and all traditional melodies from the spectrum of the Western Balkan heritage, and that she is equally powerful in abstractions and original melodies. Above all, she demonstrated that rhythm does not depend on mood and circumstances, but is a part of deep reflection, the ability to surrender to it, and of immeasurable talent.



The composition of Vladimir Botev, who also composed for the Balkan Youth Jazz Orchestra a year ago, brought a combination of Macedonian traditional song and jazz. This fused atmospheric and elegiac dedication entitled “Neveno, belan vino” was a respite before the deep surrealism of Igor Andrić and the lavish music performances of pieces by Murtić and Nikolić. “Bela krajina” by Rok Nemanič, another returning composer to Jazz Art projects, made the end of the concert exciting and playful with its infectious theme and an excellent background for the dominance of the rhythm section. In that composition, the piano, which all along had a kind of status of a background instrument, also came to the fore. The sumptuous musical story entitled “In Search of Our Musical Roots” was rounded off with “Jazz Garland” by Faruk Mehić, a young composer from Tuzla, who went through three songs from the Bosnian Krajina and gave them a new musical cover. Twenty-year-old Mehić is also the youngest author whose composition was performed at the KIC “Budo Tomović”


Afterwards, the twelve-member orchestra performed the same repertoire in Tirana and in Banja Luka at the “Banski dvor” Cultural Center.

Twelve Instrumentalists

Concert “In Search of Our Musical Roots” organized by Jazz Art in cooperation with partner institutions (FMU Belgrade, UGD Štip, Academy of Arts Banja Luka, Syri Blue Tirana), and local partners, KIC “Budo Tomović” and Cultural Center “Banski dvor”, gathered twelve young instrumentalists who spent last week in Podgorica.

Violinist Sofija Nikoska, accordionist Milena Drašković, saxophonists Aljoša Andrejević (alto sax), Ivan Nešić (tenor sax) and Sava Dabanović (baritone sax), then trumpeters Lazar Šarenac and Ilija Micev, trombonist Uroš Silaški, pianist Ivan Jovanović, bassist Vukan Potežica, drummer Dimitrije Mojsijević and percussionist Slaven Ljujić performed together for the first time in front of a large audience in the Great Hall of KIC.

Dragana Erjavšek

Pobjeda Daily 22 November, 2022


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Performers of the project “In Search of Our Musical Roots”


We are happy to present instrumentalists who participate in our project “In Search of Our Musical Roots”, unique ensemble along with guest artist, vocalist Maja Rivić, and under the direction of conductors and musical mentors Antonijo Kitanovski and Vladimir Nikolov.

Violin – Sofija Nikoska (North Macedonia)

Accordion – Milena Drašković (Montenegro)

Alt Saxophone – Aljoša Andrejević (Serbia)

Tenor Saxophone – Ivan Nešić (Serbia)

Baritone Saxophone – Sava Dabanović (Montenegro)

Trumpet 1 – Lazar Šarenac (Serbia)

Trumpet 2 -Ilija Micev (Noth Macedonia)

Trombone – Uroš Silaški (Serbia)

Piano – Ivan Jovanović (Serbia)

Bass – Vukan Potežica (Serbia)

Drums – Dimitrije Mojsijević (Serbia)

Percussion – Slaven Ljujić (Montenegro)

They will perform new compositions of nine young composers from the Balkans, and thus share knowledge, experiences and musicianship, meet new friends and promote Western Balkan through music and culture.

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Selected composers of the In Search of Our Musical Roots project


Thirteen composers applied for the call to participate in the “In Search of Our Musical Roots” project, from which the selection committee of partner organizations (FMU Belgrade, Music Academy of the University “Goce Delčev” Štip and Academy of Arts Banja Luka) selected nine composers from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, as well as from Croatia and Slovenia. Among them are young jazz composers, Nevena Pejčić, Vladimir Botev, Mak Murtić and Rok Nemanič, as well as contemporary and avant-garde music composers Dorotea Pavlinić, Ljubomir Nikolić, Faruh Mehić, Igor Andrić and Mario Nikolić.

The mentioned composers are currently in the process of creating their new musical works on the theme of the “search of our musical roots” under the mentorship of composers and professors Antonio Kitanovski and Vladimir Nikolov (experts from the partner institutions, FMU Belgrade and the Music Academy of the University “Goce Delčev”, Štip).

We remind you that the project “In Search of Our Musical Roots” was created with the aim of gathering young musicians from the Western Balkans and beyond, to encourage their creativity and cooperation affirming this region and its future, which we see in cooperation and better connection of young people through music and culture. The project received a grant from the Western Balkans Fund (4th call) and is one of 30 awarded out of over 250 projects from six countries of the Western Balkans.

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