London, Norwich, Reading, York, Oxford, Birmingham, Halifax, Maidenhead and Tunbridge Wells
As we approached nearly a decade of the existence of Serbian Month in Great Britain, we witnessed how this event grows bigger from year to year. Thirty five events in nine towns in the UK must be considered as a great achievement of the Serbian Diaspora in the UK and proof of our unity and creativity.
Ninth Serbian Month began on the 14th January 2017 in Norwich with the Paul Cross Memorial Concert by soprano Radoslava Vorgic and pianist Julija Bal, an annual event promoting the friendship between the twinned towns of Norwich and Novi Sad. Events continued until 5th March in London, Reading, York, Oxford, Birmingham, Halifax, Maidenhead and Tunbridge Wells.
Lovers of classical music had a further opportunity to enjoy hearing opera singers, sopranos Silva Vuckovic McQueen, joined by tenor Leonel Pinheiro at a Gala Concert on the 17th February, which included music by flutist & composer Nikola Radan. An Evening of Serbian, Armenian and Bulgarian classical music was held at St James’s Piccadilly performed by pianist Nataša Šarčević, soprano Tamara Živadinović and violinist Madlen Stokic-Vasiljevic together with other artists.
In a more intimate atmosphere guitarist Nemanja Bogunovic performed his arrangements of popular classical, film and Serbian music, together with his own compositions, while on a bigger stage at the Hammersmith Apollo a large audience enjoyed a rock concert by ‘Bijelo Dugme’.
On the other side, Op Sa! Balkan Band, Paprika, Faith i Branko, KUD Rastko and a folk dance group from Goteborg (Sweden)brought traditional Balkan music and dancing to London, while the Kosmos Ensemble also performed in York, Oxford and Maidenhead.
A fundraising concert by guitarist Branco Stoysin raised funds for the ‘Around the Globe Piano Music Festival’, an annual contest promoting contemporary piano composers from all around the world, including Serbia. Branco performed original music from his new music book and album ‘Alone’, which marks the 160th anniversary from the birth of Nikola Tesla. While students and teachers of the Holmewood House School in Tunbridge Wells raised funds for the Serbian Language GCSE Level Course running for a third year in London, Corby and Reading, The Srpskaonica Serbian School in Reading held an event to raise funds for a Workshop with Jasminka Petrovic in spring and is also launching its new web side.
To ensure that it is not all about music, an exhibition Six Established Artists from the Balkans was open to public at Gallery 106, with an event with ‘Artist Zolt Kovac in Conversation’ taking place on 22nd January. Icons from Zica were exhibited at St Sava’s Church in London and Mini Book Fair at the Serbian Library in London hosted author Svetlana Meiehofer, dramatists Goran Stefanovski and David Parry, as well selling books by Serbian and the Balkan writers and well-known contemporary authors from Central Asia and the Silk Road. Theatre play ‘Frenki i Dzoni’ was performed by Sloboda Micalovic and Igor Djordjevic at the Questors, Ealing’s Theatre and film ‘Come Back Zone’ (Zona Zamfirova 2) screened at the London Panton Street -Odeon.
Like every year, Saint Sava day celebrations took place in London, Halifax and Birmingham, bringing our communities together. The Jasenovac and Holocaust Memorial Foundation also made sure that victims from our past are remembered at Holocaust and Yalta memorial services which includde the launch of books by Dr Vladimir Umeljic and David Sladek.
A special tribute to Dr Elsie Inglis was held at the North Kensington Library, commemorating the centenary of her death. Alan Cumming was a guest speaker at commemoration for the women in foreign medical missions in Serbia during the Great War who risked and sacrificed their lives in Serbia and related fronts. At the same event at St Sava’s church Graham Perolls, Founder of Hospices of Hope, introduced their partnership with BELhospice in establishing the first in-patient teaching hospice in Belgrade.
Serbian customs were showcased at an event by Centre for the Study of Cultural Development from Serbia with guests Dejan Zagorac and Marina Lukic Cvetic. The event included opening of an exhibition Icons from Zica, a cookery workshop and presentation of the book ‘Taste of Djerdap’ together with a talk on ‘The Slava Celebration’ and a film screening. Other guests from Serbia were Association Ognjena Marija of Livno with an exhibition of ‘TheSerbs of the Livno Plain – Enduring Through the Centuries’ and book presentation by Budo Simonovic, The Fiery Mary of Livno. We shared “A Coffee with…” with Zoran Kesic and Serbian City Club at Parliament while The British-Serbian Chamber of Commerce hosted reception on the occasion of ‘London Fashion Week’.
We are grateful to all organisations and individuals taking part in Serbian Month, making this festival possible and ensuring its success. Our gratitude also goes to The John Jarrold Trust, Norwich City Council, The Goodman Trust Fund, Vekol DMC, Restaurant ‘Serbian Club London’, Dunav Shop, Sweet Sensation, Granny’s Secret and Distillery Zaric Kosjeric for supporting events during the Serbian Month.