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The Mandolin in Croatia : with Ivanka Kalebic

Ivana Kenk Kalebić, born in 1978 in Split.
Completed the lower and medium level school of music (Josip Hatze School of Music– the course in Music Theory) in Split.
In 1998 enrolled to the Academy of Arts in Split, the music teaching studies, and of playing the mandolin at the Cesare Pollini Conservatory in Padua, Italy, in the class of Prof. Ugo Orlandi.
Graduated the studies of the mandolin at the Cesare Pollini Conservatory in 2003, qnd teaching music at the Academy of Arts in Split in 2004, having defended the graduation paper "Mandolin Playing Technique".
Since 1999 teaching mandolin in Split (Sanctus Domnio, Brodosplit and Filip Dević orchestras). Since 2002 teaching in the Josip Hatze School of Music in Split, and from 2004 till 2012 in the School of Music in Makarska.
Since 2005 teaching mandolin as a facultative course and since 2019 as an obligatory course at the Arts Academy of the University of Split. In 2019 took the position of a Docent at the said Academy.
Since 2007 organising the international workshops for the mandolin and the mandolin orchestras in Makarska, conducted by Prof. Ugo Orlandi.

Playing in various ensembles :

With the Da Capo Mandolin Trio won numerous awards in Croatia and abroad, and made numerous recitals (Venice, Vittorio Veneto, Makarska Summer Festival, Mandolina Comessa on Komiža, Glazbene Staze Music Festival in Zagreb, Mag Festival in Split, Čari Dioklecijana Festival in Split, as well as in Baška voda, Podgora, Sutivan, Supetar, Bol, Korčula...)
Since 2006 playing in the duo with the guitarist Stipan Popović, to have won the first prize at the Chambwer Orchestra Competition in Barletta, Italy, in 2006, and at the International Chamber Orchestra Competition in Makarska in 2008,  and the third prize t the competition in Goriza (Italy) in 2009. They also performed numerous recitals (Dubrovnik, Mljet, Kotor, Budva, Bijelo polje, Podgora, Tučepi, Makarska, Split, Zadar, Šibenik, Murter, Pula, Komiža, Solin, Trogir...).
Since 2018 a member of the Split Mandolin Quartet.
As a soloist performed with the early music ensemble Renesans of Belgrade, Serbia (2008), the Dubrovnik Symphonic Orchestra (2008), the Mostar Symphonic Orchestra (2016) and the Kolin Symphonic Orchestra (Czech Republic, 2016).
Cooperating with the Croatian National Theatre in Split (Verdi - Otello, Teodorakis - Zorba the Greek, Ramirez - Missa Criolla, Tijardović - Mala Floramye), the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb (Prokofiev – Romeo and Juliet), and the Croatian Radio and Television Orchestra (Split Summer Festival, Porin Discography Awards, Cesarica Festival).
Concertmaster of the Sanctus Domnio Mandolin Orchestra of Split.
Participating in preparing the mandolin curriculum for basic and medium level schools of music.

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How did you meet the mandolin?

I started playing mandolin at the age of ten, in the private school of the now late Marin Katunarić. Later on, from this school was formed the Split City Mandolin Orchestra Sanctus Domnio, that is presently the leading mandolin orchestra in Croatia and from which come most of the mandolinists. At that time, the mandolin was not present in the schools of music, wherefore in the lower and middle level school of music I learned playing piano, to have completed my education by studying the music theory. About the studies of mandolin I first heard at the first mandolin competition Giacomo Sartori in Ala, Italy, where I met Prof. Ugo Orlandi, and decided that this would be my life vocation.
 
How is your activity organized around the mandolin?

I have been teaching mandolin in the School of Music in Split for almost 20 years now. In the beginning the mandolin was taught at the lower level only, the middle level to have been opened in 2012, because it took time for the mandolin to be accepted as a classic music instrument equal to others. This year I became an Assistant Professor at the Academy of Arty of the University of Split. Presently i teach mandolin as a compulsory instrument in the curriculum of the teachers of music, but planned is soon opening an independent study of mandolin.
I play the mandolin actively in the Sanctus Domnio orchestra, I conduct a children mandolin orchestra, and also play in various chamber ensembles (Split Mandolin Quartet, Da Capo Mandolin Quartet, duo with guitar and duo with harp).
In the last 13 years I have been organising master classes conducted by Prof. Ugo Orlandi.

Can you tell us about the history of the mandolin in your country?

When a lay person is mentioned the mandolin, the first association is that this is a folk music instrument, often accompanying Dalmatian klapa a capela singer groups, because here it has a long tradition of such playing.
However, the mandolin has also been played as a classic instrument as well. Since Croatia in its history used to be under the Italian and the Austro-Hungarian administrations and influenced by their cultures, followed were the then European trends. In the early 20th century there were numerous mandolin orchestras (in Zagreb as many as nine), but due to the political events these orchestras were terminated, whereas another plucked instrument, the tamburica, grew as the national music instrument.
In the last 20 years, the mandolin has returned once again as a classic instrument, programmes of teaching the mandolin have been opened in the schools of music and new mandolin orchestras have been started. This has been very much supported by the Croatian national mandolin festival, Mandolina Imota, existing for 24 years now.

How has the mandolin and its repertoire evolved in your country?

Thanks to the Sanctus Domnio mandolin orchestra, numerous composers started composing for the mandolin orchestra (Vlado Sunko, Pavle Sviličić, Tomislav Kalebić, Ivan Božićević, Gordan Tudor and many others). Our orchestra plays their pieces often, and we also promote original compositions for mandolin orchestra composed by world composers of all music periods. In the chamber orchestras we promote pieces composed originally for the mandolin, both Croatian and foreign (Calace, Munier, Amadei, Falbo, Mandonico, Szordikowski, Kuwahara....).

What is the position of the mandolin currently in your country?

Presently in Croatia the mandolin is advancing. Now in Split there are five mandolin players holding conservatory diplomas (Stela Ivanišević, Sandra Katunarić, Dea Škorić, Maksimilijan Borić and myself) and several more are studying the mandolin right now. All of us graduated in Italy, since there is no conservatory study of mandolin in Croatia yet, but it should be started soon. Numerous young mandolinists are interested continuing their education.
We are still to keep proving ourselves, but thanks to the numerous concerts (children orchestra, chamber ensembles and soloists, as well as talented students), a growing number of people recognise the mandolin as an instrument that can equal any other instrument.

What is the most played repertoire in your country?

If the Mandolina Imota festival (as the main gathering of the mandolinists in Croatia) is resumed, the participating younger orchestras (mostly school orchestras) often play arrangements of popular songs. Among other orchestras stand out Sloga of Zagreb, Imotski of Imotski and Sanctus Domnio of Split, that promote compositions composed by Croatian composers for the mandolin orchestras, but pieces of the world mandolin literature, from Baroque to modern, are played as well.

Where is the mandolin taught?

In Croatia, the mandolin can be learned in the schools of music in Split, Makarska, Dubrovnik, Korčula, Orebić, Rab, Rijeka, and since the last year also in Zagreb and Samobor.

If you had to choose a word that represents or defines the mandolin, which would it be?

Mission !