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SERBIAN HARMONIES: A Lecture/Presentation & Vocal Workshop with Svetlana Spajic (Direct from Belgrade!)

  • Choir Room, First Congregational Church of Oakland 2501 Harrison Street Oakland, CA, 94612 United States (map)

Serbian Harmonies: A vocal workshop with Svetlana Spajić (from Belgrade, Serbia)

Saturday, June 17, 2:00 - 6:00pm
Oakland location TBA
Tuition: $50

Registration & more info here

Presented in cooperation with the East European Folklife Center.

Offering an introduction to Serbian singing, folk dances, and oral poetry this workshop will also explore how drawing from the deep well of traditional culture can help us develop individual and collective powers of perception, expression, and imagination.

About Svetlana Spajić:
Svetlana Spajic, a native of Loznica, Serbia, began performing publicly in 1993 with Paganke, as its youngest member. Paganke (The Pagan Women), was a pioneer Belgrade group formed in the 80s which preserved ancient Serbian a cappela village singing.

In the age of 24 Svetlana Spajic was chosen among five best voices of the Balkans and became a member of the First Inter-Balkan Traditional Orchestra founded in Thessaloniki in 1995 by Nikos Valkanos. As its youngest member Svetlana performed together with some of the greatest names of traditional music such as Yanka Rupkina from Bulgaria, Ihsan Ozgen and singer Gynul Akyz from Turkey, and Ksanthipi Karathanassi and Christos Zotos from Greece.

International release of Zegar Zivi (produced by Andrew Cronshaw, Cloudvalley, 2008), an album of traditional songs which Svetlana Spajic recorded with the last authentic singers of the Serbian minority in Dalmatia (Croatia), was chosen among the fifteen best world albums in 2008 by the European Music Charts international jury. The album has been praised as the most significant project in the area of preservation of musical heritage in the territories of former Yugoslavia in the last decade, and has met with high critical acclaim in many British and European media.

Her project, the Svetlana Spajic Group, Serbian polyphony, includes three young singers from Belgrade (Minja Nikoli, Zorana Banti and Dragana Tomi), with broad repertoire of the oldest Serbian songs with authentic vocal techniques, idioms and ornaments such as "cutting" singing from Bosnia, mountain shaking songs, groktalica, ganga, and tender ancient ballads from Eastern Serbia.

Svetlana performs and gives lectures in her country and abroad, teaches young groups and helps several old village singing groups. What is unique in Svetlana's work is that she is perhaps the only singer of the younger generation who was mastered the Serbian spoken language and its numerous idioms and dialects, being recognized and accepted by the authentic village singers of the oldest generations. She will not sing any song nowadays without permission of the original singers. She is also deeply motivated to understand and convey when and where something is sung and why. "I was never told by my teachers, 'You sing well...' Such thing doesn't exist in the ancient epic world. Either you testify to the truth or not."

Svetlana performs and collaborates with some of the best traditional artists in Serbia. Since 1993 she has been singing with Bokan Stankovi, a renowned Serbian multi-instrumentalist, singer and bagpipe player, mastering ancient na bas ballads from Eastern Serbia with him. Together they have visited many villages in Eastern Serbia singing, dancing, playing, and making friends with dozens of the best regional village singers.

Svetlana has collaborated and performed extensively in institutions and venues throughout Europe and in the U.S. In 2015 she founded and continues to direct the Belgrade-based Retnik festival, which connects traditional performers of the oldest and youngest generations.