KotorArt Concludes its Festival
Martinović: Young Artists Forum – the most beautiful sounds of this year’s Festival
On Monday, August 14, the XXII KotorArt, featuring its two segments – Don Branko’s Music Days and the Philosophers’ Square came to an end with the program titled Creating Heritage, which also permanently documented the four festival commissions by Montenegrin composers.
From July 13 to August 14, the Festival presented 37 main events and over 100 accompanying programs. Over the course of 33 days, KotorArt united artists from within the country, the region, and across the world, establishing Kotor as an artistic hub with creatively designed programs that encompass selected, socially responsible, and contemporary themes.
The Festival is held under the patronage of UNESCO, the Ministry of Culture and Media, as well as the Municipality of Kotor. The realization of this year’s KotorArt has been significantly supported by longstanding and new sponsors, as well as loyal friends who have recognized the importance of the Festival’s mission: the European Union and the Creative Europe Desk, the Ministry of Public Administration, Kotor- Lovćen Cable Car, Open Society Foundation, Porto Montenegro, Regent Porto Montenegro, Luštica Bay, Henley & Partners, Montenegro Sotheby’s Realty, Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, the embassies of Italy, Germany, Hungary, Austria, and China in Montenegro, Italian Cultural Center in Belgrade, Shanghai Artists Association, Ministries of Culture of Croatia and North Macedonia, as well as numerous other important partners from both the country and abroad.
KotorArt expresses its gratitude to media sponsors such as Radio Television of Montenegro and Media Bureau, as well as all television stations in Montenegro, print and electronic media, and online platforms that have covered the Festival, reported on its events, and shared the program’s content, concepts, ideas, and values with the Montenegrin public. Over 2000 media articles have been published, and social media posts have reached nearly 2 million people, as reported by the Festival’s PR team.
Traditionally, the Festival opened on July 13, the Statehood Day of Montenegro, with a concert titled Journey Around the World, where the audience had the privilege of experiencing the unique and authentic star of the global music scene, Nemanja Radulović, accompanied by the Double Sens Ensemble. The gala concert concluded with a rendition of the Kolo of the Boka Navy arrangement. Following were performances by the world-renowned Renaissance music ensemble from Rome, Mare Nostrum, and the legendary Zagreb Soloists, celebrating their 70th anniversary this year. The three-year European project #synergy successfully concluded with the premiere performance of 12 commissioned compositions, and more than 30 performers and composers continued their concert tour after Kotor, presenting new works at partner festivals in Ljubljana, Dubrovnik, Belgrade, Trebinje, Tirana, and Pristina.
The audience had the opportunity to attend two unique piano events in the intimate setting of the Church of St. Nicholas Franciscan Monastery in Prčanj. Ratimir Martinović’s Intimate Voices will remain in the lasting memory of the audience, not only for revealing the opulent piano opus of Vasilije Mokranjac but also for the ease of performing his complex musical language. Kemal Gekić, one of the most prominent pianists of his generation, led the audience on a journey through the 19th century, to the period of the then-popular music salons, with his concert titled Carte Blanche, featuring works by Chopin and Liszt.
An exclusive concert titled Vienna Calling! by the soloists of the Vienna Philharmonic, brought together under the Platform K+K led by the charismatic violinist and concertmaster Kirill Kobantschenko, enthralled the audience at Porto Montenegro. The concerts was held in collaboration with the Rubix Festival. Additionally, the audience had the opportunity to attend another exceptional chamber music concert titled Music for the End of Time. Renowned artists, including clarinetist Aleksandar Tasić, cellist Dmitry Prokofiev, violinist Nadezhda Artamonova, and pianist Bojan Martinović, performed one of the most significant works of the 20th century, Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps.
KotorArt Talents, an important festival platform for young artists, provided the opportunity for the best students from the Vida Matjan Music School in Kotor and the top students from the Cetinje Music Academy to showcase their talent. Young cellist Sari Shaquiri and violinist Dea Nicaj also had the chance to perform solo concerts. Within the same platform, the first KotorArt Young Artists Forum was held, which, according to Ratimir Martinović, brought “the most beautiful sounds of this year’s Festival.” The young participants actively reflected on the artistic, cultural, and educational scene of Montenegro and offered potential solutions for its enhancement, based on their experiences from different European countries where they study and work. Participants of the Young Artists Forum were pianists Andrija Jovović and Miljana Nikolić, soprano Petra Radulović, cellists Sari Shaquiri, Eden Sekulović, and Kosta Popović, violinists Viktor Huter, Vukica Rašović, and Dušan Obrenović, as well as composer Marko Kovač. These young professionals, through focus groups and debates, were guided by moderators Marija Ružić Stojanović, the Director of the Capacity Building Program for NGO Institutions and Media, and Sara Mandić, a pianist and cultural and media manager.
KotorArt also hosted the The Western Balkans Youth Orchestra as part of a new festival project supported by Creative Europe, the National German Youth Jazz Orchestra, the Profundis Macedonian Chamber Orchestra with pianist Ema Popivoda, Austrian artist on the Styrian harmonica Jakob Steinkellner, Belgrade’s Group 3, and the Hungarian world music ensemble Cimbaliband. The Festival also welcomed over 60 Chinese artists, professors, collaborators, and students from the esteemed Shanghai Conservatory, hosting two concerts with renowned artists and the final stage of the First Ciao 2023 International Competition. For the youngest audience, three performances of different children’s operas by the Visoko C Association were realized at three different locations.
With the support of new partners, the Kotor-Lovćen Cable Car, concerts of popular music were organized within the Kotor Cable Car series. From the Summer Stage, one of the most renowned Croatian klapa groups, Cambi, the unique Damir Urban, as well as guitar maestro Vlatko Stefanovski, added their artistic voices to the Festival.
The Festival also organized a book launch of The Life of the Medusa: pictorial evidence of the voyages and sufferings of the Lloyd steamship Medusa authored by Željko Brguljan, as well as an exhibition of paintings Ithaca by Admiral Prof. Dr. Antun Sbutega. Moreover, two exceptional plays were part of the program: the anti-fascist American monodrama An Iliad, and the stage reading of the dramatic text Urotnici, written by Igor Štiks and Vladimir Arsenijević, featuring renowned actors from the Belgrade theater scene and directed by Boris Liješević, focusing on the significance of the supranational in the Balkan countries.
Within the Philosophers’ Square segment, a three-day program titled Fox Feminae was realized. The guests on the first evening included some of the most prominent female artists from the region: Andrijana Vešović, Lejla Kalamujić, and the internationally acclaimed Slovenian conductor, composer, and director Karmina Šilec, who is also this year’s recipient of the biennial Darinka Matić Marović Award. During this evening, the Collegium+ vocal ensemble, led by conductor Dragana Jovanović, also performed. The second evening was dedicated to forgotten operas, Jovana by the Czech composer Jaroslav Vogel and Milica by the Italian composer Marco Anzoletti from the 19th century, both inspired by Montenegrin women. The presentation and performance of arias were entrusted to renowned soloists and musicologists. This continues the work of the Festival’s Research Unit, led by Dobrila Boba Popović, with the mission of studying and performing great works of European musical heritage inspired by Montenegro. The final evening of the Philosophers’ Square featured a panel discussion on women’s rights, with the participation of Maja Raičević, Amira Fazlagić, Jelena Vukasović, and Dragana Jovanović, the moderator and editor of the entire segment.
By utilizing a large number of different locations, with the aim of providing a more comprehensive experience of the diverse artistic program for both local and international audiences, KotorArt undeniably ranks as one of the most demanding production festivals in the region. We express gratitude to our partners, media friends, and above all, our loyal audience for their exceptional attendance, support for all our ideas, and the mission that the Festival represents. The program concepts that follow the times, responding to events relevant in society and the environment, once again affirm the vitality of KotorArt, its thematic relevance, tourist attractiveness, social responsibility, program diversity, and artistic excellence – as stated by the Festival’s PR department.