Nevenka Filipović is a member of the women’s vocal association “Emptianae Žepčanke”. The name Emptianae is a Latin name for Žepče. I talked to her about the origins of the Association, activities and plans for the future.
We have our name of Emptianae – Žepčanke. We established our group in 2008. All our members had either completed primary or secondary musical school, but there are also us who are pure amateurs. But most of us sing in the Catholic Church in the church choir. So we all had our voices tuned over there a bit.
One time, we were marking the 550th anniversary of the first written account of the creation of the town of Žepče. At that time, Mr. Marinko Kelavić was the Director of the Cultural House. He knew we were all into singing and suggested that we set up a vocal group, because there aren’t many in this area. And we really did it as he convinced us to do.
Roughly, we’re always about eight strong, and we even had at some points as many as 14 members. However, the best number, the most optimal one is eight to ten. Because we cherish and sing that music that is a capella, without instruments, we sing in polyphony. We had a couple of our covers of Bosnian songs, then by already proven composers like Ave Maria, from serious and sacred music to Dalmatian klapa songs, our Bosnian traditional sevdalinka songs and our Bosnian songs that we cover in our arrangement.
Somehow from the day one, in those five or six years, we really had a lot of performances and it was a fertile period. We performed in Milan, we were guests for the famous group Ambrosiano. We were guests at their concert and actually had an all-night concert. They had a couple of performances as hosts, a couple of songs, and there we really got all the praise. We’ve played in Austria, been through quite a few towns in Croatia, but also in BiH. We performed in Sarajevo five or six times.
What are your plans for the future?
We’ve started recording a CD, however, it was a time when some of us were pregnant so we had to put it on hold a bit. We’ve recorded a lot of material, we need to complete it, and we need to find the means to be able to complete that CD.
Our plan is to perform perhaps at some festivals, announce a contest for someone to write a good song or a cover so we could go to a festival.
We have engagements now, we are performing, but now we would like to go to a higher level.
In your opinion, what can be done to keep young people in BiH?
Just give them jobs, provide for their living. That’s why they’re leaving.
Young people graduate from universities and then are forced to wait tables. You know how tiny that salary is and that’s it. That’s the problem of our Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I doubt anyone likes it better anywhere than in home country, in own country. Often people say “Young people are leaving; those who are in need, as well as those who are not.” It’s not true. Of course every young person born here would love to stay here, but they need conditions. We cannot expect living conditions here to be as in the West any time soon, but that these are at least decent and close enough.
To value a young person who was educated, has a university degree, who doesn’t have to beg or have connections high up. Because this is a trend here – If you have someone in politics or somewhere maybe you keep your child to get a job. And it is sad. I am a mother of two, two sons, neither one is with me so I know how it is. I know how it is for these kids and how it is for me to live away from my children.