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Sara Glojnarić sitzt auf einem Sessel Sara Glojnarić sitzt auf einem Sessel Sara Glojnarić sitzt auf einem Sessel
Composer Prize Winner 2023

Sara Glojnarić


Following Her Star

by Iva Lovrec Štefanović

Astrologists would surely read birthdays as auguries, but the fact that Sara Glojnarić was born (in Croatia, early in the wartime year of 1991) not only on her mother’s birthday, but also on the birthday of the pop icon David Bowie, could be taken as one of the landmarks on her journey ad astra.

Sara Glojnarić spielt Gitarre

Music she was surrounded by as a child has proven to be a natural course for her—she focused her musical training on composition, gaining a solid foundation under professor and academician Davorin Kempf (also a disciple of one of the most significant Croatian composition teachers of the 20th century, Stjepan Šulek, who also taught Milko Kelemen, a composer who left Zagreb for Stuttgart, where he became an important music professor). Sara Glojnarić went to Stuttgart on an Erasmus student exchange and stayed there—until the end of her training and later, in the new class under Martin Schüttler, making this city her habitat, a hub whose roads lead everywhere—both in creative directions and to actual journeys, seminars, residencies or visits.

Sara Glojnarić komponiert an einem Computer

Opening up to the world which quite naturally penetrated her own gave this young composer a space for playing and experimentation, as well as for profound deliberations on society, injustice or legacy of the century she was born in, taken from someone else’s memories and nostalgia.

Sara Glojnarić sitzt auf einem Sessel

With the help of professor Schüttler, she mastered quite different creative expressions, the use of video, multimedia, editing, entirely dispersing any prejudices against non-classical music stock from both history and the contemporary moment. Life in the vortex of new ideas brought Sara Glojnarić to new challenges and her first important awards, like the one in Darmstadt 2018 for a unique idea and realisation of a piece, i.e. an installation under the title popfem, in which she painstakingly and masterfully combines extreme right wing media footage US Supreme Court hearing recordings into a unique collaged testimony about the misogynous society and system. An original way of thinking which consequently causes and sets the tone of the editing of 82 the video material, as well as the final work of art and an expression, reveal Sara Glojnarić as a miniaturist, a patient explorer and an explicit activist for women’s rights and for humanity as such, the humanity she strives to perceive as a world of equal, i.e. equitable individuals.

Sara Glojnarić vor einem Klavier

In the witty yet deeply thoughtful piece This Champagne is Burned (2021), she continues on this path, exploring the notion of translation/synchronisation as extended authorship (Gentzler, 2016), its discrepancies, its paradoxical nature, as well as its potential as a politically subversive gesture.; This video work, presented in the classic bulwark of the avant-garde, Darmstadt, hierarchises (and juxtaposes) statements and appearances of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Dolly Parton, whose hit song Jolene is like the promenade from Pictures at an Exhibition, and the closing clip from the iconic TV serial Dynasty is accentuated in a concetto manner, like a mannerist verse from the early baroque era.

Sara Glojnarić vor einer Wand mit Efeu

Sara Glojnarić, as a child born at the close of the 20th century, successfully explores, dissects and reassembles it into her own messages. But not only on the level of analysis and juxtaposition of video materials, but also as a large-scale investigation of pop music and its sound fetishes she then shapes into interesting ‘sugar-coated’ compositions in the Sugarcoating cycle, whose fourth episode (sugarcoating#4) for a large orchestra was successfully performed for the first time at a special concert of the Wien Modern festival (in November 2022), featuring the densest possible derivative of exploration in a study of a million pop songs: the loudness taking over, the pitch tone height and the textures that are more reduced and compressed due to repetitiveness and loops. And it is precisely the density that results from this that is transferred back into the orchestral composition, challenging the musicians almost as if in a sporting discipline, demanding and virtuosic, as Sara Glojnarić herself emphasises. Glojnarić is, namely, the youngest ever winner of the recently received award Erste Bank Kommpositionpreis and the only recipient outside Austria ever to be honoured, however this is only one in a series of awards and honours she has already received— from the Ivo Vuljević Award for young musicians and the Porin Award in her home country Croatia, to important 83 commissions, including new operas, to which Sara Glojnarić always approaches freshly as a team member, but nevertheless her unrelenting instinct for the music’s appeal in such formats unveils itself as a particular trademark of the entire piece. Be it in the children’s opera Žabica kraljica about the “adult opera” Im Stein, released from 18 years—Im Stein opens insights into the existential reality after the fall of the Berlin Wall, with numerous details of the world of prostitution and the dark underworld— and due to the pandemic unexpectedly released in film format, based on the novel of the same name by Clemens Meyer, who also wrote the libretto, to her latest opera composition NEURO-MOON.

Sara Glojnarić
Sara Glojnarić spielt Gitarre

Sara practices sports, on an amateur level, but nevertheless, and triathlon is the discipline she in a way acknowledged in her artistic life as well, with three world premieres first performances in three weeks at the end of last year. The connection with this athletic discipline appears also in a new series of compositions she started with Latitudes for a prepared piano. A neat and creatively designed website, collaboration with a publisher, precision in meeting plans and deadlines—one might say, Pure Bliss, to call to memory the title of her recent composition for the Klangforum Wien, a composition which after its first performance in Vienna will tour European festivals and reach the starting point of Sara’s stellar career—Zagreb and its famous Music Biennale, established precisely by (the already mentioned) Milko Kelemen.

Sara Glojnarić

The stardust sprinkled across the world by David Bowie and its non-conformist and free creativity quite certainly landed on Sara Glojnarić, unburdened by categories and classifications often accompanying music, who directs her gaze to the skies and sometimes reciprocates with a surprising view of our present time, of the essential notions and views in life, ever imaginatively and ever so very humanly.