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Horkestar (formerly Horkeškart) is an amateur choir from Belgrade whose members, rather atypically, did not undergo a selection process that tested their ear for music or musicality.

Instead of a classical orchestra, they are accompanied by a rock band, and instead of performing only "classical" pieces typical for such amateur societies, choir members opt for new arrangements of rock songs or create entirely new pieces.

The choir (www.horkestar.org), which celebrated its tenth anniversary in September [2010], began when Ðorde "Žole" Balzamovic and Dragan "Prota" Protic from Belgrade, members of the Škart art group and inspired creators of the choir, were invited to receive an award at the Centre for Cultural Decontamination in Belgrade.

It was at that time that they placed an ad on B92 radio station inviting their listeners to audition for a performance of a song by Arsen Dedic (Croatian singer-songwriter) entitled "Svete krave" (Holy Cows). There really was no audition because everyone was invited to join the choir.

Choir members Nevena Paunovic and conductor Dragana Aleksic gave an interview "for two voices" for Southeast-Europe: People and Culture.

What is Horkestar's main message?

Dragana and Nevena: The values of self-organisation, collective spirit, and free access to musical expression are at the core of Horkestar. Regardless of what some people may call "talent", it is open to new members at any time and any place. Pursuing these values is a positive, alternative way of getting people going and turning them into "public" beings.
The choir has been around for the past ten years. Has the way it operates changed over the years?

Dragana and Nevena: At the beginning, the members of Škart would conceive projects and we had professional conductors and mainly classical instruments. A few years later, one of the singers became our first conductor and the orchestra, which is more like a punk-rock band than a classical orchestra, was established. After it split away from the Škart group, Horkestar consisted of the choir and the orchestra and, since then, we have used our own resources and creativity for new songs, new arrangements, activities and performances.

Are there any modern composers in Serbia whom you consider to be interesting?

Dragana and Nevena: First of all, we would like to mention the Jarboli band, who have been with us on this journey for years now. There is also Luka Stanisavljevic, a former member of Horkestar and the Cinc band, together with Marija Balubdžic, our former conductor. Besides, the former and current members of Horkestar are members of well known bands in Belgrade who have made a contribution to the development and existence of "underground" music in Serbia: Cinc, Krš, Endorfin, Ex-Missa, Oružjem Protiv Otmicara, GKT. We have also worked with Obojeni Program and Luna, whose songs we rearranged, as well as composers and/or songwriters such as Zoran Simjanovic, Voki Kostic, Arsen Dedic, Marko Brecelj, Vuk Stambolovic, Jovana Backovic.

Which course is the choir going to set for itself for thefuture?
Dragana and Nevena: We have completed recordings for our new album which is soon to come out. We are also working on new songs, getting them ready for May next year [2011] when the first Festival of Self-Organised Choirs in Serbia is to be held. Among others, Kombinat from Slovenia, Le Zbor from Croatia, and Raspevani Skopjani from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be taking part in the festival. The location for the festival will be Dom Omladine Beograda, Culture Center Rex and the streets of Belgrade. The fact that there are self-organised choirs in this part of the world speaks of the existence of a small, "alternative" and growing choral movement which -- and we have to be somewhat immodest here - was initiated by Horkeškart in 2000. - Southeast Europe: People and Culture


Still working on that hot first release.



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