Interview with violinist Ivan Knezevic

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.

Dragisa Zdravkovic, a second year student of Music in the media, interviewed the violinist Ivan Knezevic, who performed at the Festival on the second and third evening. This interview was also published in the journal Music of Classics, no. 27, year VIII, April – June 2017.


IMG_6632During 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 with the violinist Ivan Knezevic, a member of the String Quartet Evenos. This ensemble was created in the German city of Essen in 2012. It was founded by four musicians coming from three different countries – Serbia, Belgium and Greece. Master studies, during which they held numerous performances, started in 2013 at the Folkwang University of Arts in the class of Professor Andreas Rainer. As the best students of Chamber Music Department, they were awarded a cycle of concerts organized by this academic institution.

Can you tell us something about the origin and the current artistic way of your quartet?
The String Quartet Evenos was created while we were in the restaurant! We had known each other from the studies. We just started to talk about quartet, chamber music and about that we might start playing together … We went to audition for a master, and later for Concert-Examen, the highest level of studies that a musician can attend. When we started, we did not expect anything from our quartet, however, our cooperation was well functioning and it has been developing ever since. We perform at concerts mainly in Germany and Spain.

Since you come from three different countries, how are you doing when it comes to rehearsals?
We study and live in the same city in Germany. The Quartet would not function if we live in different countries.

Why Evenos and what does it mean?
It is a Greek word that means ebony – a black-tree that is found on our instruments, more precisely, at a fingerboard. We connected our instruments and two members of the quartet coming from Greece, and thus came to the name Evenos.

Is there perhaps in your repertoire some composer’s opus that you favour?
It all depends on quartet members. Haydn’s compositions are the most interesting for me to play. It is probably because I am the first violin and in Haydn’s compositions that is the most complex part. Generally, all the composers have something that binds you to them. I cannot say for Beethoven or Shostakovich, which we played here in Kragujevac, that I do not observe them in the same way. They are very interesting and one can always discover something new and interesting in these compositions.

Are you most often in the classic repertoire or are you accessing some other genres and styles?
For now – just classic. We want to ascent on the music scene just by classical music. We are considering making a small experiment in Germany by playing with a Greek singer and bringing it closer to the younger audience, but only when we have stand out in the classic repertoire.

Have you participated in the competitions so far and, if so, at which?
Yes. We participated in the International Competition in Spain, specifically in Barcelona. The competition is named “Paper de Musica”. We won the first prize and concerts throughout the year. We also participated in the Duisburg competition where we won the prestigious “KöhlerOsbarprize” award.

How should artistic music be promoted today?
I think that music should be modernized in some way. To present it as more interesting, and not so ‘serious’ as people characterize it. Somehow we should break the “taboo zone” between classical music and other music genres. Also, I think that the audience needs to get closer to the piece before the concert starts in order to feel additional emotions.

Who are the famous soloists with whom you have worked together so far?
When it comes to the big names of the world’s music scene, we collaborated with pianist Ewa Kupiec, as well as with cellists, Claude Bohorkuez and Julian Arp, as well as with Garrett Lube.

Do you like touring? Did you have them so far?
Last year we held a tour in Spain. Besides that one, we do not have any bigger tour. There are much smaller, like this one in Belgrade and Kragujevac. Getting to know new people, Festivals like this, are very interesting and certainly help us in further advancement.

You are a young quartet, what are your plans and goals?
Our plans and goals are to continue to work at this pace and to work hard. In addition, I must say that it is not easy to live from chamber music. That’s why we are looking to present it in a best possible way and even more interest the audience for our kind of music.

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