Divanhana: We jumble together different musical styles

24 August 2022, 2:00

Divanhana: We jumble together different musical styles

The album Zavrzlama by Bosnian band Divanhana is so far in continuous sequence, the second best world recording of 2022 according to the panel of radio publicists of World Music Charts Europe. Divanhana will perform as part of the Lednice-Valtice Music Festival on 26 August in Hlohovec and a day later in Břeclav – Charvátská Nová Ves. The band’s pianist, Neven Tunjíč, is here to answer our questions.

Your current album has a strange name Zavrzlama. What does the word mean?

The word “zavrzlama” means knot or some sort of mess when a lot of things get tangled up. But it can also be figuratively conveyed into every day life in Bosnia and Herzegovina, where people of different religions and different nationalities come together. This means that the political life in our country is very complicated and all this binds us together into one large knot. We all have a Bosnian heart and our life is sometimes complicated and other times less so. And this is what the beautiful songs that come from our tangled country speak of.

Is your music also a sort of jumble?

Yes, we created an album as a tangle or knot of different musical styles that are interrelated. We drew from our traditional music which is called sevdalinka or Sevdah music. Then there is the very important layer of so-called kafana music, which in its way is based on sevdalinka. And finally there is the newest layer, songs written in the modern era after the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many artists began writing their own sevdalinka songs and we are also one of these artists as we also write our own original music which is rooted in the sevdalinka. Thus on one album we bring together different music genres.

On the other hand, what do the songs on your album have in common?

As I have already said, all these songs, even though they come from different sources, are rooted in our traditional music called Sevdah. They also have a common language, the band is the same and all the songs are brought together by the idea of recording an album in a studio in Ljubljana, so we will all be sitting in one room and will record the album at one go as was done some thirty years ago. All these songs have a common energy that hopefully we will manage to transfer to the album.

You recorded the album the old way on analogue tapes. Why?

I think that we learned from past mistakes when we recorded the album digitally. When using analogue recording equipment, the original dynamics of the band can be preserved on the recording. It is also better given that we use many traditional acoustic instruments. Now we have been able to express our energy on the album. We also have a great producer from Slovenia, Janez Križaj, who has plenty of experience and worked on a great number of recordings, including punk albums. I think it was he who advised us to try out this rather old-fashioned way of recording, because this is what our band should sound like. And I think he was right because people like the sound of our album.

Virtually all musicians who have recently released an album talk about how their new recordings have been influenced by the coronavirus crisis. How did the pandemic affect the creation of your album?

We managed to record the album just before the coronavirus crisis, but we mixed the recording during the pandemic. And I think that this helped us, because we had enough time for it. Otherwise we are constantly performing concerts and travelling. When we could not travel we could fully devote our time to completing the album. We sat at home, sent the recording to each other, discussed it and asked other people what they thought of it. So this gave rise to a collective work which many of our co-workers contributed to in the last two years. And I am truly proud of the result.

Can you define what the source of this pride is?

Above all what is new on this album is that we play our own music on it. I also feel as though this is a new start for the band. During the pandemic we could not play at all and now it is as if we are starting from scratch again. And this also relates to the fact that we are beginning with something new with our own music. In fact we are not discovering anything new, but we are discovering ourselves through our own songs. This is how this album differs from all our previous recordings.

We touched on Sevdah music. How would you present it to visitors to your concerts in Moravia?

It is hard to explain to people what exactly Sevdah music means. I would compare it, for example, to the Portuguese fado or the flamenco. This is music which you feel in the heart. And you can feel the same when listening to sevdalinka songs. It is music that originated in an urban environment in the territory of present-day Bosnia and Herzegovina at the time of the Ottoman Empire. But it is also music which is emerging in the present day and tells the story of present everyday life in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sevdah is the song of our life.

Do you have any musical heroes that have influenced you in your approach to music?

Many traditional songs were written by unknown authors, but we can say that all the artists who played this music in the territory of the former Yugoslavia have influenced us in some way. They were such artists as Himzo Polovina, Safet Isović or Zehra Deović. But also some of these are also artists are from Bosnia and Herzegovina such as Damir Imamović, Amira Medunjanin, Božo Vrećo or the band Mostar Sevdah Reunion. In fact everything we listen to influences our music.

Your album was top of the monthly World Music Charts Europe (in March and April 2002) and so far you have been continuously ranked second out of all global interpreters throughout the year. Is this important to you?

This success is a truly important for the band, because it is confirmation that we are heading in the right direction. We would certainly like to continue in the same way and be able to record our own music. But success in the charts is also important for our “business”, for those who organise our concerts, for our managers and the like. So I hope that it will bring us lots of further interesting work. We want to concentrate above all on travelling, on being able to play to more and more people. Thus I hope that this brings our band more concerts.

Do you know what your next album could look like?

We already have a clear idea of the next direction the band will take. We already have a few new songs. So we want to further develop our own work and present our band through our own songs. In addition, we will draw from the world around us and continue to discover the folk music of our country. We also have ideas for further collaboration with interesting artists. Thus we have lots of plans and we hope that the coronavirus is on the retreat and we will really be able to continue to live a normal life. And that our dreams will come true.

Archive photo



No comment added yet..

Connection, unity, contemplation - these words can be used to describe the musical evening of Schola Gregoriana Pragensis under the direction of David Eben and organist Tomáš Thon, which took place yesterday as part of the Easter Festival of Sacred Music at the church of St. Thomas. Not only the singing of a Gregorian chant, but also the works of composer Petr Eben (1929-2007) enlivened the church space with sound and colour for an hour.  more

With a concert called Ensemble Inégal: Yesterday at the church of St. John, Zelenka opened the 31st edition of the Easter Festival of Sacred Music, this time with the suffix Terroir. This slightly mysterious word, which is popularly used in connection with wine, comes from the Latin word for land or soil, and carries the sum of all the influences, especially the natural conditions of a particular location and on the plants grown there. This term is thus metonymically transferred to the programme of this year's VFDH, as it consists exclusively of works by Czech authors, thus complementing the ongoing Year of Czech Musicmore

For the fourth subscription concert of the Philharmonic at Home serieswhich took place on 14 March at the Besední dům and was entitled Mozartiana, the Brno Philharmonic, this time under the direction of Czech-Japanese conductor Chuhei Iwasaki, chose four works from the 18th to 20th centuries. These works are dramaturgically linked either directly through their creation in the Classical period or by inspiration from musical practices typical of that period. The first half of the concert featured Martina Venc Matušínská with a solo flute.  more

The second stop on the short Neues Klavier Trio Dresden's Czech-German tour was at the concert hall of the Janáček Academy of Music on 6 March at 16:00. A programme consisting of world premières by two Czech and two German composers was performed in four cities (Prague, Brno, Leipzig and Dresden).  more

The last opera première of the National Theatre Brno this year was Hurvínek Sells the Bride, which was co-produced with the Spejbl and Hurvínek Theatre. The première continued the thematic focus associated with the Year of Czech Music and took place on 24 November in the large hall of the Reduta Theatre.  more

With Thursday's concert entitled Bruckneriana, the Brno Philharmonic under the direction of Principal Conductor Dennis Russell Davies launched the subscription series Philharmonia in the Theatre I. The orchestra performed works by Anton Bruckner and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, a Polish-American conductor and composer who devoted his life's work to Bruckner. Performers wearing crimson sashes with the inscription "Playing forte!” appeared in front of the audience, joining the "Let's not let culture die” initiative, which draws attention to the underfunding of culture and opposes the government's plan to invest just 0.64% of the state budget into culture next year, moving further and further away from its promise to spend at least 1%.  more

The Brno Philharmonic Orchestra has been running the Orchestral Academy of the Brno Philharmonic (OAFB) project for nine seasons, enabling young talented musicians to gain orchestral experience in a professional ensemble. In this manner, the orchestra educates the next generation of musicians, both permanent and external. However, working here also gives young people the opportunity to show their skills in chamber music and in a concert series called Young Blood aka Music Up Close. The first seasonal concert took place on Wednesday 15 November at Besední dom.  more

Baladas da Luta, Fighting Ballads, is the title of the sixth album by Brazilian singer Mariana Da Cruz and her Swiss-Brazilian band Da Cruz. It is a combination of modern music that combines Latin American tradition and contemporary electronic elements with strong lyrics. In them, the author fights for women’s rights, stands up against dictatorships and specifically criticizes the atmosphere that has evolved in Brazil under the now former authoritarian President Bolsonaro. Da Cruz performed at Brasil Fest Brno in August 2023. We revisit this festival with an interview conducted following their concert at Zelný trh. Singer Mariana Da Cruz and keyboard player and producer Ane Hebeisn, performing as Ane H, responded to our questions.  more

The programme for Janáček Brno 2024, an international opera and music festival now in its 9th year, was unveiled at a concert held to mark this occasion entitled Janáček to the start! On Saturday, 4 November, the Mahen Theatre was filled not only with devoted fans of the festival, but also with foreign journalists, politicians and prominent figures from the world of culture. In addition to a collection of wonderful musical performances, the audience was also treated to a lineup of renowned artists – Kateřina Kněžíková (soprano), Václava Krejčí Housková (mezzo-soprano), Josef Špaček (violin) and, last but not least, Robert Kružík, who took on the role of both conductor leading the Orchestra of the Janáček Opera at the National Theatre Brno during the evening and also performing as a cellist.  more

The musical comedy The Addams Family is the latest production to hit the stage of the Music Theatre of Brno City Theatre. Audiences are in for an ironic, slightly morbid and enticingly horrific spectacle for the whole family. A musical production has been crafted here which serves up a famous contemporary pop culture phenomenon, as well as a generous helping of hyperbole and catchy melodies to boot. And testament to the audience’s hunger for this wacky family is the fact that all thirty performances are already nearly sold out…  more

The Ensemble Versus choir, accompanied by the Ensemble Opera Diversa under the baton of Gabriela Tardonová, demonstrated what a combination of historical and modern instruments sounds like within a contemporary musical context in the Red Church. The dramaturgical line of Tuesday evening was presented in the spirit of a combination of the works of Carlo Gesualdo da Venosa (1566-1613) and the world premiere of Exsultet by the principal composer Ondřej Kyas (*1979), which also includes parts written for cornett (Radovan Vašina), dulcian (Jan Klimeš), trombone (Pavel Novotný) and theorbo (Marek Kubát).  more

The second New World of Moravian Autumn festival began on Thursday in Brno’s Besední dům. This project, by students of the Faculty of Music at the Janáček Academy of Performing Arts, was primarily originally created for the practical musical programming course and intended to be a one-off event during the Moravian Autumn the year before last. Subsequently, however, more students signed up and started working on a repeat festival. The dramaturgy for New World 2023 was handled by percussionists Adéla Spurná and David Paša, bassoonists Aneta Kubů and Josef Paik, and multimedia composer Martin Janda. Three concerts were prepared for 19, 20 and 21 October for this mini festival.  more

The Restlessness of Icelandic Peace was the name of a concert on 15 October at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Brno, at which conductor Chuhei Iwasaki with the Moravia Brass Band and American artist Adam Wiltzie performed a work by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson (1969-2018). Many of you may know his music from the award-winning films The Theory of Everything and Arrivalmore

The third concert of the Moravian Autumn Festival, held under the auspices of the Ambassadors of Latvia and Lithuania, Elita Kuzma and Laimonas Talat-Kelpša, presented mostly contemporary works by foreign composers on Wednesday 4 October at the Besední dům. The show was directed by the Kremerata Baltica string orchestra, who invited the young talented pianist Onutė Gražinytė to join them, and the whole evening primarily rode on a wave of minimalism. However, during the preparation of the concert, the programme was changed and instead of Geörgy Ligeti's String Quartet No.1 "Métamorphoses nocturnes", works by Jēkabs Jančevskis and Olli Mustonen were performed in their place.  more

The Ensemble Opera Diversa has already presented several compositions by David Matthews (*1943) to Brno audiences, and in most cases these were Czech or even world premieres. This year Matthews’ 80th birthday was celebrated with a performance by the above-mentioned ensemble, or rather its chamber branch Diversa Quartet, headed by dramaturge Jiří Čevela, with a concert on 20 September at the Villa Löw-Beer. The programme, consisting of works by composers closely associated with David Matthews himself, including his own compositions, was preceded by an hour-long discussion in the presence of the composer. Matthews is a British-born composer with long-standing ties to the Brno circle of composers and musicologists. In addition to his participation in the so-called "apartment seminars" in the 1980s, he also is friends with several personalities such as composer, pedagogue and oboist Pavel Zemek Novák (*1957).  more


Terroir, a term used especially in the wine industry, is the subheading of this year's 31st annual Easter Festival of Sacred Music. It refers to the set of natural conditions, especially soil properties, which give a crop its distinctive character. Terroir perfectly describes the dramaturgy of this year's edition, which is focused exclusively on the work of domestic composers in the Year of Czech Music.  more

The Brno Culture Newsletter brings you an overview of what is happening in theatres, clubs, festivals and cultural events in Brno.  more

The Musica Florea ensemble is preparing a new concert programme to be performed for the first time this April. This year marks the 170th anniversary of Leoš Janáček's birth, and to mark the occasion the ensemble has taken up his earliest compositions to set them alongside works from the early Italian Baroque. Musica Florea will be performing with conductor Mark Štryncl. The soloists will be Barbora Kabátková, Stanislava Mihalcová, Daniela Čermáková, Hasan El Dunia and Jaromír Nosek.  more

Easter concerts are already a tradition at the Brno City Theatre. This Easter, the Rock Mass will be performed on Friday and Saturday at the Music Stage of the Brno City Theatre.  more

The ProART art group is celebrating 20 years of its activity. In addition to the celebrations, the Year of Czech Music also commemorates the anniversary of the composer Bedřich Smetana and the Czechoslovak choreographer Luboš Ogoun. These anniversaries will be combined into one production, DREAMS OF CONSCIOUSNESS.  more

Tenebrae, has long been one of the most impressive parts of the Easter Festival of Sacred Music. They are held from Wednesday to Good Friday, always from 9 pm at the Jesuits'. This year, the darkened church, in which candles are burning, will be unusually filled with music commissioned by the festival.  more

The festival enters its 17th year with a series of concerts that will fill not only the South Moravian metropolis with funky music, but also Prague as part of the "travelling" concerts. The year-long festival programme is starting to take off and the organisers are adding two more names. The previously announced French band Electro Deluxe is now joined by Fun Lovin' Criminals and the most prominent jazz-funk formation from Iceland - Mezzoforte.  more

The concert entitled "In between genres" is the culmination of a three-day event celebrating 100 years of radio broadcasting in Moravia. The whole event includes genre-free concerts, a showcase of new music recordings from radio production and a colloquium dealing with folk songs in radio broadcasting, and last but not least, a commemoration of editor Jaromír Nečas and his radio venture - a series of programmes called The Colourful Singing World. The final concert is moderated by Břetislav Rychlík and Jiří Plocek.  more

Mahan Esfahani, an absolute world leader in harpsichord playing, is coming to Brno. He was the first and only harpsichordist in the world to win the BBC's New Generation Artist in 2008-2010 and has won countless prestigious music awards. He will perform with the Brno Philharmonic Orchestra in a programme entitled Mahan Esfahani: harpsichord in the main role.  more

Years of international cooperation between the cities of Brno and Stuttgart will culminate in one musical event - a joint concert in the Hall of the Brothers of Charity. Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle will be performed by the Ökumenischer Choir.  more