Jovanka Trbojević (1963, Serbia/Finland) received her basic music education from the “Mokranjac” School of Music in Belgrade, studying piano with Radojka Jovičić. She graduated in piano from the Prague Academy of Music and in composition from the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland. Since 1997 she is a composer living in Helsinki.
Her works have been performed in all Scandinavian countries, and in France, England, Switzerland, Italy, Latvia and Japan. Many of her pieces have been broadcast on radio or television in most European countries, as well as in South America, Japan and Australia. A number of CDs including her music were published in Finland, Denmark and Japan. The CD Longing for a Brilliant Light that contains her early chamber works, was published in 1998. Jovanka Trbojević’s creative output has been supported by all major Finnish contributors, such as the Sibelius Foundation, Pro Musica Foundation, the Madetoja Foundation, the Arts Council of Finland, The Finnish Cultural Foundation, by Nordic contributors such as NOMUS (Nordic Music Commission), the NordScene, and the Nordic Council of Ministers, as well as by the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation. She has several times received long-term artist working grants by the Arts Council of Finland. In recent years, she has received a three-years’ artist grant from the Finnish Cultural Foundation.
Currently she composes music for modern dance performance by choreographer Petri Kekoni, and a piece for flutist Camilla Hoitenga and percussionist Norbert Krämer. Her second symphonic work will be performed by the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra in January 2011. Besides composing, Jovanka Trbojević is also developing new methods of teaching composition for teenagers.
In September 2009 she received the prestigious Prix Italia prize in Torino with her radiophonic composition Creation Game.
Kolme Sanaa (Three Words) – Tribute To Kalevala, for string quartet and ambient sound
The piece was commissioned by The Kalevala Society for a large Kalevala art exhibition in Helsinki in 2009. The project invited 10 visual artists and composers to cooperate for new pieces related to Kalevala’s poems. The works were exhibited for six months.
In the process of cooperation with the renowned sculptor Martti Aiha we translated and transformed poems of Wäinämöinen’s travel to Tuonela, the realm of the dead, into music and sculpture. Väinämöinen, the shamanistic hero, crosses the Tuonela river in ferryman’s boat to seek the knowledge of the dead – 3 magic spells or words – that he needs to build his own boat.
The sound world of my work is divided into two parts – actual music and ambient sound. For this I developed some general concepts:
Horizontality – the boat and boat movement. Musically, something moving forward (linearly) in time. Simple melody, simple chord progressions, open strings. Musical connection with past times and myths.
Transparency – ambient sound, such as wind, ice, water, sounds of boating, etc. I had a vision of a boat moving towards translucent horizon – slowly disappearing into it. A musical progression from the concrete to ethereal and transparent, progression from a low register to a high one.
The string quartet part brings out the human element of the poems – the experience of Tuonela and inner meanings of building a boat.
The ambient sound reflects the world of Kalevalaic time, belonging to the sphere of myths and Mother Nature. Sounds of water, ice, Väinämöinen tramping through forests, searching for suitable wood, crossing the river to Tuonela. The sound of times when people got together to recite the Kalevala stories. These elements form the voice of the Kalevala in my mind, and together with music, connect the Kalevala with my own time.