An escape from the city doesn’t have to be just a necessary change of scenery. Since Serbia looks like one large festival of culture in September, this can offer so much more than just your usual touristy break. Days of Mokranjac in Negotin are, as they always have been, a first-class spiritual appetizer.
Two hundred thirty eight kilometres from Belgrade. Eastward. A small town, its name first recorded in 16th century. Negotin is a place with an interesting past and the most beautiful and most inspiring part of it are the legends passed down generations. The history of this area is linked with Illyrians, Thracians, Romans, Byzantine emperors. And one special name – Stevan Stojanović Mokranjac. The greatest Serbian composer was born in mid-nineteenth century in Negotin. The spiritual music he wrote he adorned, as if by magic, with the themes of the national heritage of his country, which makes him an eminent artist within the entire Serbian culture. It was unpretentious and truly spiritual.
During the last days of summer, Negotin springs up as a perfect choice to escape a major city, or simply to experience a change in scenery. This time it is not just the different surroundings, an unfamiliar, or less familiar area, nature, different mentality of the people – all these being the reasons we often want to find ourselves somewhere else, shortly interrupting the mill of our daily grinds. This extra reason is the festival Days of Mokranjac, which is traditionally organized in Negotin in September.
photo: Arhiva TO Negotin
This year, between 23 and 29 September, a festival will take place which will make the entire Serbia, not just Belgrade, become a dynamic stage for the most diverse cultural events. From music to theatre. Just like in the previous years, the program is based on the well known concept of choir competitions, choir performances, guest performances of theatres, ballets and musicals, chamber and symphony orchestras. The retrospective segment of the event just emphasizes the most valuable part of Serbian music tradition. It encompasses the performance of the pieces of renowned composers from this region, artists from different time periods, whose music pieces make the unique treasure of a culture. Performances by folk dance groups are, as they always have been, a special part of the program and the guest performances of dance groups coming from abroad will give the audience their own interpretation of the great composer’s work. Literary, art and scientific lectures, as the foundation of the auxiliary program, just prove the importance of syncretism in art, the dialogue of different forms of creation focusing on the same topic – the art and the artist, Stevan Mokranjac, and historical cultural heritage.
The composer’s biographers describe Mokranjac as a bohemian, a true connoisseur of the Balkans, the object of his passion; a composer that gave the national love sickness a classical, spiritual form, uplifting the very essence of the mentality of this people. This is exactly why he was looking for folk melodies, for music born out of the collective spirit, lifting it to the heights of immortality. This is why the September escape is so much more than just a field trip, more than just a respite. It is a spiritual appetizer in which the past meets the present in a collision worthy of a standing ovation. The kind Mokranjac was given all his life.
autor: Miloš Paripović