Srđan Mladenović, tenor, discusses on behalf of the choir Viva Vox the successes and daily challenges of this choir, whose members have long become the cultural ambassadors of Serbia to the world
Viva Vox has been around for more than 10 years. What do you see as your greatest success so far?
Actually, this year is our 13th anniversary. Almost three years ago, on May 9, we celebrated the 10-year jubilee with a big concert in the Belgrade Arena, before more than 10,000 people. That year we also released our first studio album. These events, in addition to a few other unique performances, have marked the Viva Vox choir’s career, so far.
You are some form of cultural ambassadors of Serbia. You perform all around the globe – including the hall of the United Nations General Assembly. In addition to the usual elation that you elicit everywhere, what are the most interesting reactions that you got from foreigners who had a chance to hear you?
Even though the foreign audiences have had a chance to see a cappella singing to beatbox for a number of years, we are very happy that they single out our sound and method of performance as different and unusual. After our concerts, people often approach trying to find out if it is really possible that everything we perform on stage, we perform with our voices only. They always note our repertoire, as covers of a somewhat „harder“ sound form a major part of all Viva Vox performances – from rock songs to industrial music and dubstep.
You are impeccably synchronized on stage; what does an average trip look like, when your choir goes on tour? How much time do you spend socializing together privately and what kind of energy do you have amongst yourselves?
We like to say that each of our tours is like a long field-trip. It would be impossible for us to create the energy on stage that people recognize as special, if that energy did not exist between us off-stage. Many of us have been friends for years. The energy passes to new members as they join, over time – and this energy is what drives us.
How do you select your repertoire and what do you enjoy singing the most?
We all propose songs to add to the repertoire, we discuss our favourites amongst ourselves and then the final decision rests with the people who arrange our music and our singing team. The covers we enjoy the most are those which are more demanding in both vocal and choreographic terms, as well as those that the audience will least expect that they can be performed by voice only.
What are you working on these days and what good news can we expect from you soon?
After the two new videos we released in December – the Star Wars theme on the eve of the premiere of the latest sequel and Let it Snow for New Year’s holidays, we plan to keep up with a similar theme. After two years, we have opened an audition for new members, which will last until the end of March and in May we have a major concert in Vienna.
What is your personal favourite song that you ever performed and why?
It is hard to single out a song; covers of Prodigy, Rage Against the Machine, System of a Down, or movie themes such as the Star Wars theme often stand out as the most popular. Such pieces allow us to create the sound that is unique to us and that we enjoy the most.
You have travelled far and wide, but you have also had an opportunity to get to know Serbia very well. What do you recommend to your colleagues from abroad, what should they listen to when they say they want to get to know the music of this region? What do you find the most inspiring?
We find inspiration in various genres of music from this region, which abounds with good sound. What must be a common denominator to all these genres is quality – and this is what we always strive to find and endeavour to improve, with each performance.
In conversation with Miljana Nešković