Choral Sketches: Jug Marković

Short interview with Serbian composer Jug Marković about his piece for CMC and Chamber Choir Ireland's Choral Sketches project. The workshop takes place on 20 January in the Kevin Barry Room at the National Concert Hall, Dublin.

Tell us about the piece you’re writing for Choral Sketches

Like most of my recent pieces, the piece I am writing at the moment is aesthetically heterogeneous. It comprises of different compositional techniques and approaches. Precisely this multitude of “musics” within one composition is my main tool for building the dramaturgy of the piece. As far as texts are concerned, this time I have decided not to use one single text but six or seven short excerpts of several poems (in Serbian) of Serbian poets who lived and wrote at the very beginning of the 20th century. Their poetry was unambiguously affected by the first world war and is therefore very expressionistic, dark and rather pessimistic. The piece is not supposed to be in a narrative or story-telling manner, nor to express the text through music but rather to approach and present these poets as witnesses and relevant voices of their time.

What’s your experience to date of writing for choral groups?

My first encounter with writing for choir was during my studies at the Belgrade Faculty of Music where it is obligatory to write a piece for choir during the course of studies. Later on I participated in two TENSO (European Network of Professional Chamber Choirs) workshops that led to me writing the piece “Nirvana” (for 24 singers). On this project I collaborated with the Slovenian Philharmonic Choir and afterwards I had the privilege to work with the amazing Latvian Radio Choir which was a great learning experience. “Nirvana” will have its Serbian premiere in Belgrade at the end of this month performed by Braća Baruh Serbian-Jewish Choir. I look forward to working closely with the singers before the final performance.

Also, at the end of 2017 I was selected as the winner of the TENSO Young Composers Award for 2017 which includes a commission for TENSO choir.

What are you hoping to achieve from this project?

It is rare these days to have enough time to try things in person with ensembles. Therefore I definitely look forward to getting a huge input from the ensemble, conductor and composition tutor and also to use the opportunity of trying different versions of choral sketches. Also, being affiliated with such a renowned ensemble such as Chamber Choir Ireland is extremely precious for me. Apart from gathering knowledge and in situ experience from a practical point of view it is tremendously important for young and enthusiastic composers to get a chance to work with already established and highly professional ensembles who can support their professional development and improve their visibility in the domain of contemporary music.

Last but not least, I definitely expect to leave Dublin with even more enthusiasm and zest for writing more choral music.