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At home in Eastern Europe and New York City, Ana Milosavljevic (aka ANA) is a musical dual citizen. Reflections features her broad talents as violinist, composer, and commissioner of new works — all by women with at least one foot in both regions.
Ana has been acclaimed by The Strad as “an imaginative artist willing to think big” and by New Music Connoisseur as a “virtuoso performer” with “a wonderful mix of technique, sensitivity and passion”. This multi-talented Serbian native and Manhattan-based artist has performed stunningly from Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, to Cornelia Street Café, and many points in between. She is a pioneer at fusing elements of traditional Balkan music with other imagined soundworlds, often in collaboration with dance, theater, or visual projections.
The music is colorful, sensual, edgy, and spiritual, often all at once. In addition to two of her own works, the CD includes works written for her by some of the more boundary-blurring composers around. From Serbian songs to a Belgrade soundscape, Buddhist chant to a bull-roarer, a dervish monastery to a New York dance club, artists with roots in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia will take you on a guided tour of the new geography.
“REFLECTIONS represents my dual musical citizenship through the sonic experiences of my native Serbia and my current hometown New York. Each work results from collaborations with dance and visual artists, composers, performers, and technicians who’ve made similar journeys. We consider our artistic creations platforms for processing and making sense of our life changes, bridging the old and the new as we move from one location to another. “The CD title refers to both the mental act of reflection — of contemplation, meditation, self-discovery — and the physical act of reflection, what you reflect out to the world after having taken it in. Through this music I aim to reflect and to share thrilling and unforgettable moments of love, happiness, sadness, regrets and no-regrets, hope, peace, harmony, and gratitude, and, most importantly, how I came to find my home in my heart.” — ANA
'This is music made to deliberately evoke an artistic journey from origins/roots to discovering the essence and meaning of one’s voice. Ana begins with her own title track, sounding like the slow movement from a sonata and managing a graceful balance between classical form, folk music expression and song-like lyricism and accompaniment. She follows this with “The Spell III” for violin and electronics, from composer Aleksandra Vrebalov and programmer Brian Mohr, a slow, shimmering cascade of fragments that seem to come out of some deep, cultural memory. No matter the contemporary forms or technology, Ana maintains a direct connection to a sound and expression that have to do with the place she came from, Serbia. In the generally fraught subject of authenticity in contemporary arts, Ana is implicitly secure in what she knows of herself. She’s an impressive violinist who also shows excellent musical, emotional and intellectual taste in the material. “Before and After the Tekke” concludes this excellent CD by doing a superb, involving job of bringing together strands of classical, traditional balkan, European disco and dramatic musics into a dazzling, coherent whole.'
- George Grella, The Big City
Last night at Lincoln Center, Serbian-American violinist Ana Milosavljevic treated what looked like a sold-out room to a performance that was as intense as it was subtle. Playing both solo and duet pieces, she showed off a meticulously expert command of the instrument’s intricacies, which made the drama of her occasional cadenzas or rapidfire solo flights all the more effective. She’d chosen a terrific program of recent works by composers from home or close to it, opening with Katarina Miljkovic’s 2008 piece White City, a portrait of a rather horizontal Belgrade. Playing along to a soundtrack of found sounds from the streets there along with loops of motifs she’d just played, she made it an early morning tableau. A playful, kaleidoscopic video played behind her: facades of buildings and public spaces were warped into a wraparound shape to appear as faces, one amusingly crossing its eyes again and again (was that city hall, maybe?). Milosavljevic’s astringent overtones mingled deftly with the atmospherics as the still, ambient tone poem unwound, a display of subtle dynamics and timbre shifts punctuated by terse phrases that moved hypnotically and dubwise through the sonic frame. Like the first piece, it became hard to tell what was live or looped on the next one, Aleksandra Vrebalov’s The Spell II, and maybe that was the point. Based on an Eastern Serbian melody made famous by the female vocal group Moba, it was music to get lost in, playful swoops and acerbic staccato phrases in a sort of call-and-response with the playback of motifs that had appeared earlier, a seemingly endless series of minimalist permutations that managed to be both incisive and hypnotic. The showstopper was Milosavljevic’s own song without words, the title track to her new Innova cd Reflections, a duet with pianist Kathleen Supové. Milosavljevic explained beforehand that it’s an evocation of “sadness and hope all at once.” Together, the violinist and pianist gave its stunningly memorable, brooding Satie-esque changes an understatedly raw lyricism, depicting an incessant cycle of pain and disappointment while trying not to lose sight of something slightly brighter. It was absolutely devastating, finally rising to an approximation of a crescendo the third time through the verse but ending enigmatically. If there’s any justice in the world, someday it will be as well known as the Chopin preludes, whose intensity and emotional wallop it matches. - Lucid Culture
"[A]mbient/textural compositions with tape or computer, paired with highly melodious and emotive works with a strong East-European flavour. In some places (“Before and After the Tekke”), I’m strongly reminded of Boris Kovac … while others are seductively ambitious (“Wolf Chaser” by Eve Beglarian)."
- François Couture, Monsieur Delire
[A] fascinating, austerely gripping collection of recent works by women composers, most of them of Eastern European origin. The strongest piece here is her own Reflections, a brooding, Satie-esque prelude of sorts featuring the matter-of-fact piano of Terezija Cukrov. It’s meant to be bittersweet, which it unquestionably is: as the melody shifts ever so subtly, it’s an unaffectedly wrenching chronicle of struggle that leaves some possibility for redemption at the end, on the horizon: hope doesn’t get any closer than that … A tone poem, White City by Katarina Miljkovic portrays Belgrade as it wakes and starts to bustle with activity, briefly echoing phrases moving through the frame against a hypnotic, somewhat astringently droning ambience. Meant to evoke a threatening, possibly apocalyptic milieu, Undertow, by Margaret Fairlie-Kennedy has the feel of a horror film score, rumbling low-register piano alternating with eerily sailing violin up to an ominously sustained interlude, the violin emerging wounded and limping … The album concludes with Svjetlana Bukvich-Nichols’ Before and After the Tekke, a memorably gypsyish mini-suite that evokes the hypnotic swirl of trip-hop string band Copal as well as Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks score. It’s a valuable and compelling look at several composers who deserve to be better known than they are – one can only imagine how many others there are out there who deserve the kind of inspired performance that Milosavljevic offers here.
- Lucid Culture