Interview with percussionist Srdjan Palackovic

With each project realized, the Citizens Association “CONVIVIUM MUSICUM” introduces novelties, some of which have grown into traditions and many years of excellent practices and cooperation. The Third international festival of chamber music Convivium Musicum, held in 2016, brought an opportunity to students of the Faculty of Philology and Arts in Kragujevac, from the Department of Music in the Media, to practically apply their acquired knowledge in the form of interviewing artists who performed at the Festival. This practice continued with great mutual satisfaction in 2017. The students, as well as in 2016, created and realized interviews under the mentorship of Dr Marija Ciric, associate professor.
At the first concert the audience listened to Belgrade percussionists, and one of the members of this duo, Srdjan Palackovic, gave an interview to a student of the second year Jovana Hinić. This interview was also published in the journal “Muzika klasika”, no. 27, year VIII, April – June 2017.

UNDER MAGIC DRUMSTICKS

IMG_5705At the opening of the 4th International Festival of Chamber Music Convivium Musicum, which was held in Kragujevac from 14th to 17th March, we had the opportunity to talk to the founder of the duet Belgrade Percussionists. The ensemble was created in 1997, from the desire to bring the sounds of percussion instruments closer to an audience that often does not have the opportunity to hear them. They performed in the country and abroad, made several sound and video recordings and recorded enviable results in numerous competitions. Founder and member of the ensemble Srdjan Palackovic (1968), is associate professor at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade at the Department of Poly-Instrumental Music. He played at the Belgrade Philharmonic as a percussionist and solo timpanist for many years. He has collaborated with many Yugoslav orchestras and chamber ensembles, as well as with the established music artists.
Your ensemble marks two decades of existence this year. How did you in 1997 come to an idea to establish an ensemble Belgrade Percussionists?
We are classically educated percussionists. Since percussions have developed over time, the composers have increasingly begun to treat them as solo instruments. That is why we decided to play these compositions and perform those works. An ensemble was created to promote and present popular music for percussions and music of the XX and XXI centuries.
How much of pleasure is it to share the music you love with the audience?
We definitely choose the compositions according to our sensibility and taste. Our satisfaction is even greater, if the audience recognizes it. When choosing works, we emphasize that we like it, and it often happens that this is the taste of the audience as well.
What is your impression of this Festival?
First of all, for me, it is very pleasing that there is a festival of chamber music at all. Because everything that young musicians do in the study phase, in the end, results in joint play. Whether you play solo or in the orchestra, you must, as a musician, know the parts of orchestra. If you play with the piano, you also need to know the score of that instrument, to participate in the creation of an interpretation of one piece. I am very pleased that this Festival of chamber music has the opportunity to host a wide range of ensembles. In that sense, it is a great pleasure to have such Festival in Serbia. It is especially a great honour for me that we opened it this year.
What is your favourite from the program you are playing, can you single out some peaces?
We try to present our instruments from multiple angles. We strive to play at the concert as many instruments as possible, so in our performances we present compositions that cover all three types of instruments.
What are the most important places, halls, music centres, festivals … where you performed?
In principle, I am opposed to making a difference between the places. Every performance is special to me, because I like to play and enjoy it. Whether it is Kragujevac, Belgrade or a smaller place, it does not pose any problem. Starting from myself, first of all, I see that it is my pleasure to play, and then, of course, the pleasure of people – in as many towns as possible. If I had to point out, as far as our country, it is certainly my city, Belgrade, but also Novi Sad, where we play more often. If you consider the cities of our former state abroad, that’s something I might separate, but in principle I do not make any difference.
Why did you decide to play percussions?
It’s love from the earliest days. Since I know about myself, I wanted to play “something” that pound, drums, and so on. Music such as rock and popular, in my time attracted all of us to play it, especially with this kind of instrument. Then it takes everyone in some direction. I can say freely, I was lucky. My professor in an elementary school turned me to classical music. When I remember myself at that time, it was really a great success to devote myself to dealing with this kind of music. I practically did not know anything about it then. In principle, it happens to somebody just as it happened to me. Someone continues to deal with music that attracts him and someone starts to play a certain instrument. It’s an individual thing, but if I went back to the time of my musical beginnings, I would choose the same again.
How many ensembles like yours exist in the world?
In the last twenty years there has been real expansion. An extremely large number of musicians are in the world of percussion. Of course, the possibilities are greater. The problem, however, is the space constraints, because we do not play a flute that is small in size. There are a large number of ensembles of duo, trio, quartet, sextet … I can mention, in my opinion, one of the best. It’s Safri Duo. They were an inspiration to form our duo. It’s Danish ensemble, which is really for me, the best. I think that, although there are now a large number of percussion ensembles, they are either copies, or they cannot simply be so good. Of course, I always dissociate, that’s my opinion.
Which musical style is intimately the closest to you?
Of course, I’m looking at it wider. Somehow it is later romanticism and Maler’s symphony. Of course, there are many music styles, they cannot be separated, but if I had to say now, that’s something that first comes to mind. It is about really multi-layer music. Especially when you play it, when you are in it, and when it is a great orchestra. When someone succeeds to experience it, I think it is God’s gift. I really like Maler’s symphonies, but I cannot go and not mention some others. Especially Berlioz, in general, romanticism and late romanticism, and again, how to bypass Beethoven … So I can not separate them, because I think I would wrong them, every single one has something that is especially attractive.
You also released one compact disc, can we soon expect some more?
It’s also a big problem, especially because of the environment in which we live today. Again, it’s easier to record than it used to be. It is a different time. Starting from myself, I personally do not have time to listen to discs. Only when I spend time in the car, I play a disc. It’s interesting, when I meet someone, I give them a compact disc. But I must admit that it is very important today for the musician to have a CD. I somehow like to see the essence of everything I deal with. There is a huge work and effort that is essential and necessary. Time I do not have – that’s number one, then space – instruments should stand for five to ten days without anyone moving them. This is a huge problem. Second, it is the quality of these instruments. Some are better, some are worse. In order for a person to invest properly, in order to have a quality instrument, there is a need for money, which is also a problem for us. Of course I would like to record something again if the conditions are met. We can do something, so that some sort of compilation is issued, it makes sense. Or to make a retrospective of what we have been playing up to now.

Author: Jovana Hinic, second year student at the Department of Music in Media, FILUM, Kragujevac
Translation: Ljubica Guzvic