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Vesna Šouc, conductor

The Conductor Doesn’t Exist Without an Ensemble

I’d always known that music would be my professional life’s journey. I built my own world and musical path surrounded by the roaring, warming jazz harmonies emanating from the room where my father, the composer Mirko Šouc, created, while I gazed into the sounds of his piano, which stirred my imagination through the colours of classical music.

In my youthful desires, group work took precedence over individual work, and back then I had no clue that I would choose conducting. Music is like art, closest to all others. That wonderful, universal language arouses emotions, wins over the soul and in the moment diverts our attention away from time, objectivity and the world outside. As a conductor, I always find my guest performances abroad particularly interesting, standing in front of an ensemble that’s completely unknown to me, raising my hands, and starting to create together in a language that we’re all very well acquainted with – the language of music. We’re meeting for the first time, yet we get to know the essence of one another so quickly, thanks to music. I accept to do those works that I feel and know as being intimate to my soul, to my artistic being. I do everything I do with enthusiasm and love for the music and my colleagues. That’s because a conductor doesn’t exist without an ensemble.

Every segment of work on a show is important: studying the scores, collaborating with the director and choreographer, accompanists at solo rehearsals, work with the orchestra, choir and, finally, merging all the ensembles on stage. One of the first stages in the work is on the lyrical cover version, i.e., on translation from the original language into Serbian and its adaptation to the existing music. This vital work implies reaching full agreement and respecting all the rules of the musical and spoken text. The conductor’s task is to participate in the work on the cover version, with the aim being for the listener to follow the logic of the recited words easily and without exertion.

My greatest role models are my father and professor Darinka Matić Marović. I clearly recall the moment I first heard at a rehearsal “Maestro, may I ask you…” I thought…this had to be earned

Every performance brings new challenges, and the conductor must quickly solve problems that arise imperceptibly, with a “cool head” and, above all, with good conducting technique. The audience doesn’t even feel those kinds of details. The ensemble must trust the conductor completely (because you are only followed by someone who trusts you), and the conductor must be familiar with every instant of the show, both collective and individual, leading the whole ensemble at every junc- I n my youthful desires, group work took precedence over individual work, and back then I had no clue that I would choose conducting. Music is like art, closest to all others. That wonderful, universal language arouses emotions, wins The Conductor Doesn’t Exist Without an Ensemble I’d always known that music would be my professional life’s journey. I built my own world and musical path surrounded by the roaring, warming jazz harmonies emanating from the room where my father, the composer Mirko Šouc, created, while I gazed into the sounds of his piano, which stirred my imagination through the colours of classical music. ture, but must also be ready to react quickly if unforeseen situations occur. Of course, good health, excellent physical form (shows or concerts last around two hours, not counting the preparation time prior to the start), maximum concentration and the ability to swiftly react are all a given.

As a full professor at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade, I’m in a position to educate young people, but also to give them direction in their careers and help them advance. Helping a young artist is true happiness.

Emotions are transferred without fail to the ensemble, to the soloists, and then also to the audience. My experience tells me that you can never trick the audience. Our audience is brilliant. We witness theatre auditoriums and concert halls that are full.

To be successful doesn’t mean having a few good concerts or a successful season, but rather years of continuous progress, being courageous, and sometimes taking risks. But when you love your job, you really don’t find anything difficult. One thing is clear, at least to us artists: everything that we do well is rewarded with applause…the only thing is that the road to such a beautiful reward is long and thorny.

However, real happiness only comes when a balance is struck between private and professional life. The greatest joy in my life is my daughter Katarina.

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