The Covid-19 virus pandemic has posed new challenges to cultural workers in the field of classical music, both to the performers themselves and to educators at educational institutions at all levels.
The whole world is facing constant cancellations and shifts of cultural events (so-called Cancel culture), but also master classes, workshops, competitions and festivals, as events that are largely aimed at exchanging knowledge and raising the competencies of cultural workers. A special difficulty is the transition to online classes, and even exams and performances.
However, we come to the conclusion that a large number of problems existed before the pandemic, and now in a constructive dialogue many questions have been asked and suggestions for possible solutions that are not simple and easy, but involve a long and complex process.
The participants agreed that the problems of pedagogy and performance are closely connected and that one set problem opens up many others.
Guiding young solo singers is an extremely demanding and complex job, which requires full dedication and engagement, primarily of pedagogues, and then of families, schools and the environment.
Teachers are faced with the problem of motivation of pupils and students, readiness and interest in a long-term process, in today’s world when young people are faced with the temptation of quick access and easy access to everything. Becoming an artist requires dedication, discipline, work and sacrifice, and the general impression is that today’s generation is not sufficiently faced with the demands of the profession.
Educators are limited by systemic problems such as curricula, high administrative requirements that take their time away from working with students and pupils, and insufficient support from educational institutions for very specific individual work with young artists.
In parallel with the problems in pedagogy, problems are developing on the cultural scene, which represent primarily a deficit of young artists, a large outflow of young people abroad, and thus the stagnation and obsolescence of our cultural scene. Young artists are not given enough space for improvement, and they are expected to have the knowledge and professionalism that requires prior practice.
During the discussion with colleagues from Macedonia and Croatia, we came to the conclusion that this trend is present in the entire region and that it is necessary to seek common solutions through networking and mutual exchange of knowledge and experience. Development of communication, realization of common ideas, dialogue between pedagogues, performers and pedagogues, intergenerational dialogue and universal programs could move the border imposed in the region during the transition.
In most opera houses, even before the pandemic, there is a tendency not to take into account the rejuvenation of the solo ensemble. Apart from the closure of houses due to the budget and other restrictive measures related to employment, such negligence reduces the number of titles in the repertoire, and thus the number of performances that are performed. What is a long-term consequence that must be considered very carefully is the disintegration of the opera audience. The opera audience is specific and must be taken into account.
The younger generations, regardless of the presence of recordings on video platforms on the Internet, perceive opera as something foreign. Organizations that dealt with education and organized guided tours are no longer in place, and the enthusiasm of educators is not at a satisfactory level. The opera audience must be created and maintained through various actions. This brings us back to young people – performers, titles in the repertoire that must be receptive to both the theme and the performance in the mother tongue, and thus creates a good initial impulse to interact with the youngest visitors.
Due to the material situation that in the transition, and especially in the time of the pandemic, dictates the work in the houses, we come to talk about the standard that is slowly starting to be lost. The standard that will lead to the necessary quality of performances implies serious work of people who are professionals, singers who are adequate for the roles in which they perform and the necessary number of rehearsals which, nowadays, are minimized due to savings and negligence. Only a well-prepared work will have a long life on the stage and will be able to renew and rejuvenate.
Returning to the necessary standard from the past, which is no anachronism either in the organizational or in the performing sense, we will get quality again.
At the end of the conversation, it was concluded that it is necessary to start joint activities, to include colleagues in the field of pedagogy, performance and management in culture, in order to raise the above issues to contribute to strengthening and advancing our cultural scene. In this way, we will, above all, make room for young people to improve, develop and stay in the country.
Violeta Pančetović Radaković, PhD, full professor at the Faculty of Music in Belgrade
Igor Vlajnić, MA, conductor, master of economics and professor, Rijeka Croatia
Vesna Ginovska Ilkova, MA, champion of the Macedonian Opera and Ballet and associate professor at the Music Academy in Skopje, Macedonia
Vesna Opsenica, MA, professor of solo singing at the Josip Slavenski Elementary School
Svetlana Vranić, MA, professor of solo singing at the Kosta Manojlović Elementary School
Snežana Savičić Sekulić, MA, champion of the Opera of the National Theater in Belgrade, visiting professor at the Faculty of Contemporary Arts in Belgrade
Marija Mitic Vasic, MA, soloist of the Serbian National Theater and professor at the Josif Marinkovic Elementary School
Boris Postovnik, M.Sc., project manager in culture and director of the Student City Cultural Center
Dr um. Natasa Jovic Trivic, champion of the Opera of the National Theater in Belgrade and president of MOTO
Dragan Stevović, director of the Museum of the National Theater in Belgrade and chairman of the MOTO Assembly