Since 1985…

It all began in the autumn 1985 when I visited an exercise of the City Choir in Mostar.

I was a fan of classical music even before, but I never thought to be actively involved in classical music. Well, I was actively involved in music before then, but my idols at that time were John Bonham, Ian Paice and Ipe Ivandic. Immediately after hearing the choir’s singing, I became a member, as a baritone. Singing in a choir was a beautiful experience. Concerts with Mostar Symphony Orchestra was particularly solemn. Many famous conductors led our choir. Later I even became member of the Chatedral Choir in Mostar where I sang most famous works of Handel and Bach.

All conductors praised my singing very much, why I began to believe that I was a good singer. This self-image grew so much that I soon began to study solo singing at the Music School in Mostar. I started singing with prof. Jarmila Prpic and continued with prof. Amira Voljevica. Few times I worked with prof. Pasa Gackic in Sarajevo while I was preparing for studies in her group at the Music Academy in Sarajevo.

In the spring of 1991 I moved to Rovinj in Croatia where I played organ in the Franciscan church and continued to sing with lessons from prof. Oriana Vozila, the soloist in the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. Together with prof. Vozila I sang a few humanitarian concerts in Rovinj.

In February 1992 I came to Sweden. My plan was to sing few humanitarian concerts in Sweden and that return to Croatia.

In Sweden, my voice deteriorated and I had huge problems with high notes (which I think is a problem for many basses and baritones when they begin to sing). I was desperate. I was thinking of giving up singing. But I couldn’t just give up such an important part of my life. I just hoped to be able to sing again… some time…

A miracle occurred in summer 1992. I bought a tape with Matthew Passion of Bach. One afternoon I was listening to the Passion while I was sleeping. While sleeping, I heard the tenor Aldo Baldin singing the aria ”Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen”. When he sang the word ”Jesu” I woke up suddenly and realized that I heard the word more with my throat than with my ears! I realized that my throat just came in ”right position”, by itself. I jumped out of bed, ran to the nursery (where I then worked), opened the piano and sang for three hours without being tired at all! I simply learned to sing! At that moment I understood what all my teachers meant by different instructions. Since that day I have never had any difficulty with my voice.

Immediately after this experience, I started with planning my concerts. I contacted Urban Olsson, cantor in Swedish Lutheran Church and told him that I wanted to sing a concert with him. After hearing me, Urban told me that he would be happy to have a concert with me whenever I wish. We started with a concert in July that summer. In the autumn I sang several humanitarian concerts, in Heby, Sala and in Uppsala. Humanitarian concerts were very important to me. It was for these concerts sake I came to Sweden. It became my life mission to help people in war. At that time I was so poor that I had to dry my (only pair of) shoes on the radiators in the church while I exercised. My countryman, Mr. Franjo Spajic, helped me to buy a dress that I wore at concerts. I can not say that I suddenly became a ”celebrity” but my life did change a bit. It happened that people smiled to me at street or in a store and thanked for nice concerts. A certain local politician called me “his homeland’s Ambassador to Sweden”. Cantor and composer Eyvind Hallnäs wrote a Jubilate which he dedicated to me! The fact that I realized my plan, was more satisfying than anything else.

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Poster of my first concert in Sweden

In 1997, I asked the famous Croatian baritone Ferdinand Zovko to visit Sweden and to sing a concert here. He sang a beautiful concert in Fors Church in Eskilstuna. After the concert we had dinner with the Croatian Ambassador Dr. Malden Ibler. The funds that were raised at this concert and at few of my own previous concerts, were sent as help to the music school in the town of Cerin in Hercegovina. The actual music school was established by Ferdinand himself.

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Picture from my first concert in Sweden. Photo by courtesy of Jan Mellden

In 1998 I recorded an album with songs of the Croatian romantic composer Ivan von Zajc. The purpose of this production was to support the Croatian Catholic Mission’s relief work in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as to present the Croatian art music for the Swedish audience. The project succeed thanks to Monsignore Stjepan Biletic and the pianist Timothy Stayton (who also is a priest in the Swedish Lutheran Church).

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Cover of my Album with songs of the Croatian romantic composer Ivan von Zajc

Today, my humanitarian concerts are mostly arranged for the purpose of giving aid to Christians in the Holy Land.

Beside the humanitarian concerts, I sing in other concerts, Liturgy, weddings, as well as other celebrations and programs.

A musical reviewer of sala Allehanda described my concert in Sala:

”Davor Zovko has a young, clear and beautiful voice. His baritone sounds purely and strongly in the upper, weightless register. The tones carry themselves there. Intonation is very good. Directly and without hesitation he let his songs touch us. Although the church is so great and the reverb so strong, he keeped the clarity of the songs high. In couple of occasions, the full force was needed. A pair of cadences were made with maximum strength and viability, as well as with great control. That was intense discharges. The most pleasing songs were still the restrained songs about gloomy nocturnal moods. In these (songs) the expressions were nuanced and varied. And there demonstrated Zovko even the feeling for the most important ingredients in the romantic song – closeness and intimacy”. Juris Martinson, Sala Allehanda.

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Photo from my concert in Eskilstuna 2009, published in the Annual of the Equestrian Order (Eng, Ger, Fra, Ita, Spa). Photo by courtesy of Martin Ancons

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