Interview with pianist Stevan Spalevic

During the Concert Season “Convivium Musicum”, on 13th November 2018, the audience had the opportunity to hear an unusual and rare combination of percussions and piano. At the scene of the First Kragujevac gymnasium we could hear a percussions duo, consisting of Srdjan Palackovic and Nevena Djordjević, and the piano duo − duo Stevan Nemanja, composed of Stevan Spalevic and Nemanja Egeric. On this occasion, apart from the work of Bach, Stravinsky, Glinska, four artists performed Sonata for two pianos and percussions from the composer Bela Bartok, one of the most technically demanding pieces in music literature. About the performance, the challenges that the ensemble made by percussion and piano brings, as well as art and music, we talked with pianist Stevan Spalevic.

The interview was led by Aleksandra Lukic, a student of Master Studies at the Department of Music in the Media (FILUM) and the volunteer of our manifestation.

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How do you feel after tonight’s performance?
A bit exhausted, but satisfied. I think that this was one of the more successful concerts and that was confirmed by the audience’s applause.

How did you come up with the idea of establishing such ensemble?
The idea came from my dear friend and colleague Nemanja Egeric, who had a chamber music exam at doctoral studies. The suggestion of pianists and members of LP duo, Sonja Lončar helped us to achieve cooperation with incredible professor and percussionist Srdjan Palackovic and his student Nevena Djordjevic.

How difficult is it to find the appropriate literature for such form of ensemble?
Works composed for percussion and two pianos are really rare at the performance repertoire, primarily due to technical problems and logistics itself. Capital works are known to most music art lovers, and we can say that there is a deficit with the number of arrangements that are adapted for this ensemble.

What is inspiring you in further work and improvement?
I mainly find inspiration in the music of baroque and classicism, and as far as piano performance techniques are concerned, I am currently under the influence of András Schiff, who is an incredible pianist and conductor, as well as my dear professor Bruno Canino.

What, in your opinion, could improve the status of art and artists in Serbia?
It is quite certain, the allocation of funds from the state fund for culture and art. In Western European countries, the music tradition has been brought to an extremely high level, precisely because the state recognizes the importance of cultural and educational institutions and invests much more into the art itself and its production. Something that we especially lack in Serbia are concert agencies, whose activity is of great importance for the popularization of the art itself. Also, the lack of fees for artists is another problem we encounter.

We are witnessing times in which art plays a relevant, but marginalized role. What do you think in what direction it will evolve and what can we expect in the next decades, when progression of digitization is increasingly involved in art?
I think digitalisation is a process that is good and bad and greatly contributes to the popularization of art music around the world. Global availability is one of the good sides, in contrast to the impression that cannot be the same as the one related to the moment of performance in the concert hall.

Do you think art has the power to transform society?
Art, for me, has always been a language of love and sincerity, therefore I firmly hold the position that we can make much more progress as a society when we focus on cultural activities, events and give a chance to the true values to come to the fore.

How much new media help us when it comes to popularizing contemporary art and art music?
The accessibility of music art is increasing, and much of the artistic music is in the domain of unlimited online use, especially music that was created several centuries ago. Individual access has led to a subversion of the social factor, which, until then was an indispensable part, and this initiated the antisocial behaviour and alienation of the audience itself. Nevertheless, I am sure that new media help us a lot when popularizing contemporary art and art music. As an ideal example, I would like to single out the Digital Concert Hall of the Berlin Philharmonic, where viewers have the opportunity to watch live concerts, even if they are not able to attend the performance itself.

Do you have any more performance in the upcoming period?
I am currently preparing the Brahms Piano Concerto in B major, which I will perform next month with the Nis Symphony Orchestra.

Author: Aleksandra Lukic,student of Master studies at Department of Music in the media,
Faculty of Philology and Arts Kragujevac
Translation: Ljubica Guzvic