Klapa Sinj to Embark on FirstEver U.S. Tour of Klapa Music
Traditional Croatian music finally takes itsrightful place on the World Music stage
By Maria Grgurevic
For 20 years now the World Music Institute in New York has carefully pickedacts to present in its World Music Series. Being selected to perform under theinstitute’s sponsorship is a high honor. On Dec. 2, the vocal group Klapa Sinjof Croatia will have this honor. The group is starting the first ever klapatour in the U.S. with a performance on the Society for Ethical Culture stage inNew York, says Nenad Bach, a Croatian-born New York musician and producer who isresponsible for making this happen. The tour will continue to the Kennedy Centerin Washington, D.C., and the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall,both highly prestigious stages.
For at least a decade, Bach has wanted to take klapa music (atraditional form of a cappella singing from Croatia’s coastal region)out of Croatian clubs and restaurants and give it its rightful place on theworld music scene. He has been working day and night to make this happen forsome time. Bach refers to the process of getting to this point as “lifting thecement block from the bottom of the sea.” He sees Klapa music on majorworld music stages around the world, turning it into another Croatian exportbrand.
Bach received strong affirmation that he was on the right track back in 2002.National Public Radio featured his recording of traditional Dalmatian sacralmusic on its “Millennium of Music” program and the audience responsesurpassed all expectations. That CD, called “Following the Cross,” was arecording of traditional Lenten music from the island of Hvar. Program hostRobert Aubrey Davis refers to this program as “one of the most popular seriesof programs we did.”
After that, Bach began producing a klapa music series called“Mediterranean Sounds – Croatia’s Mystic Voices,” with the intent ofreaching the American world music audience. The CD jacket features spectacularartwork by Andrej Urem and provides song translations. To achieve a cutting edgesound, Bach is recording groups with the latest surround-sound technology neverbefore used in klapa music, while keeping its natural resonance byrecording in Dalmatian stone churches. The first two CDs in the series came outin 2005 – the women’s Klapa Fa Linđo and the men’s Klapa Sinj.
Klapa Sinj has a special sound in the world of klapa music, as theyare not from the Adriatic coast, but from the mountainous hinterland. They singcoastal music seasoned with the rugged energy of the mountains, says Bach.“[They are] part of the Mediterranean sound, but more in the hills, so theyhave a little bit more of this ojkanje,” he says. “They are inbetween ganga and sea-level. Lyricism of the seashore and the roughnessof stone; the ‘rolling stones’ of klapa singing.” Ojkanje isa vocal technique characteristic of ganga, a singing style from themountains behind Dalmatia.
Besides producing other artists, Bach has written music for film and theatre,has recorded his own original albums, and has headed a number of other creativeand humanitarian projects. Currently he is working on his own new album called“Everything is Forever.” This project will be about bringing his roots tohis music and to the world. He takes inspiration from Paul Simon’s “Graceland.”
“Paul Simon kept the integrity of the artist but brought it to the worldstage,” Bach says. This is how he plans to work with Klapa Sinj. He will berecording with Klapa Sinj while they are on tour, and, as part of the concertprogram, they will perform together six of Bach’s new compositions.
Although klapa has been used as background vocals in Croatian popmusic, Bach will be the first to use it as integral part of his compositions.“Klapa is in my collective memory,” he says. “If I can add anythingto the world stage, it has to be my roots.”
Klapa Sinj will be performing in the following cities:
- Dec. 2, opening of the U.S. tour in New York as part of the World Music Institute concert series at the Society for Ethical Culture.
- Dec. 4, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.,
- Dec.7, at the Chicago Cultural Center’s Preston Bradley Hall.
For New York show tickets go to www.nenadbach.com.The concerts in Washington, D.C. and Chicago are free of charge. Listeners inother cities will be able to hear the Dec. 4 concert live over the Internet, at www.kennedycenter.com.The Klapa Sinj CD, as well as the Fa Linđo CD, the other album in thisproject, are available on www.nenadbach.com,as well as www.amazon.com, www.cdbaby.com,and www.eBay.com.