Interview with ensemble Les Nounours

Trio Les Nounours is a new ensemble on the scene of art music in Serbia, composed by Teodor Ikanovic (violin), Srdjan Paunovic (saxophone) and Kosta Knezevic (piano). The ensemble was founded with the idea of associating individual qualities, in search for the sound that is very rare for our country, but also rare in the world. The relatively modest original repertoire for violin, saxophone and piano (which confirms the rarity of this form) is expanded by the members of the ensemble, to be exact by their own adaptations of the pearls of chamber music.


IMG_6573How did you decide to name ensemble Teddy bears?
We just wanted to be bears, but we did not insist that they were plush. The idea came from the first association that people have when they see us – the three bears. Since most of our repertoire comes from French composers, the name is translated into the French language.

What inspired you to create such an unusual ensemble?
The ensemble was formed on the initiative of our chamber music professor, Timea Kalmar.

What do you want to point out with the music of this ensemble?
We want to show people that in the artistic music there is a more relaxed approach to the way of playing and performing. We are showing this by the name and styling, wearing suspenders and cheerful shirts. We are also trying to make our repertoire not standard and ‘chewy’, and again we do not go into avant-garde and experimentality, which could discourage the audience.

You often adjust the composition for this ensemble. Is it just about the works of the XX and XXI centuries?
At the moment yes, but we have in the plan composers of the early XIX century. If you follow our work, you will soon find out which ones.

Is there cooperation with domestic composers in the future?
Yes, we applied for the Sokoj’s Fund for Cultural Contributions, where we were granted funds for the project called Gle, saksofon! (Look, saxophone!). The name was given after the first reaction of people who saw this unusual ensemble, expecting a cello or some other instrument. With this project we work on affirmation of saxophone in artistic music, presenting it to the audience and composers, in classical composition along with violin and piano. We are currently waiting for the works of our authors, which we will perform in the spring or autumn.

Most of tonight’s program was made by French composers. Do you have a special affinity towards them?
It could be said that they actually have a special affinity for this form of ensemble. French authors first investigated the harmony of such mix of instruments, and thanks to their style, even arrangements sound naturally. An example is Deux interludes from the tonight’s concert.

Your ensemble is relatively new to this territory. What is the audience’s response so far?
Very good. So far, the performances have been very successful and each ended with an encore. One evening the audience was so exhilarated that we came out on as many as three encores.

What are your future plans?
To begin with, already mentioned project with domestic authors. In addition, we want to invest all our efforts in researching music libraries, in order to find more original pieces for this composition. We also pay attention to interesting works, for which transcriptions and arrangements could be made. Finally, with tonight’s performance we round up the concert season, which started in March. The next step is to leave this repertoire aside to work on a new one, which will be presented to the audience next year.

Sara Stankovic and Andjela Markovic,
students of FILUM, Department of Music in Media
Photo: Milos Dasic