Brussels Philharmonic | Interview with Ivicevic

Interview with Ivicevic

"Unrestricted, energetic, explosive – Mirela Ivicevic is one of the most enthralling composers of her generation." - Shilla Strelka

March 23: mark your calendars as the Brussels Philharmonic debuts a captivating new creation by Mirela Ivičević. The work by the Croation composer is rebellious, personal and rooted in the now.
Curious to learn more about the person behind the music? Read the interview below for a quick introduction.


live in concert

experience the creation live at the concert Another Mélisande at Flagey

[info & tickets]
[read also: Ecstatic Soundworlds by Ivičević]
[discover also: Close Encounters]

[discover also: Symfomania! XL]

Who is Mirela Ivičević?

I was born in Split, Croatia, into a multi-ethnic family, so the quest for what might connect different people, cultures and, finally, sonic materials has always been an inherent part of my life.

I feel extreme joy bringing seemingly contrasting structures together in a meaningful coexistence, and you can hear that in most of my music, no matter what the subject of a certain piece is. I also try to incorporate personal experiences whenever possible, for me it’s the most honest and effective way of communicating through the arts.

If your music style were a cuisine, what would it be?

I’d definitely be a buffet. Like when you go to a party, and there is catering with all sorts of food, and you end up trying stuff that you’d otherwise never eat. A buffet also means putting different foods on the same plate that don't go together according to any laws of cuisine. And it’s weird, but still somehow tasty. Well, not always, but surprisingly often.

And sometimes, the food you taste that you are familiar with ends up being disappointing because your grandma does it way better. But then, some other thing that you didn’t even think you’d like makes you go 'wow'. And it’s surely not the menu you’d want to have every day. But you do look forward to having it from time to time.

Is there a particular moment in your career that stands out due to its humor, embarrassment or significance?

I don’t really fear embarrassment on stage, I think every artist is a bit of a histrionic personality, we’re 'okay' with attention even if it’s negative one. I remember driving for the first time to Donaueschingen with members of Klangforum Wien who were joking about who of us young composers has the biggest chance of getting booed by the audience. Because allegedly they boo you there, if they don’t like the piece. And I was mostly just thinking to myself: 'oh well, at least I didn’t spend more than a month working on that piece'. Nobody got booed that time though, it was a very successful concert. That was also when I first met Ilan (Volkov). He was conducting the concert.

I’m always very touched when I see tears in audience. Not that I compose in order to make people cry, but sometimes it happens, and it is lovely to see how music has the power to bring us humans into the state of blissfulness. It makes us feel more, in ourselves and for the others. It is one of the reasons I make music.

Which are your favorite orchestral pieces?

I have a pool of pieces, spanning from Bach to Lachenmann. I don’t care about the style or era, I want to hear the ruthless authenticity in the piece, whoever achieves that, has me coming back to them. Lachenmann sends me to outer space because he sounds like nothing else ever written before.

But right after, you can find me listening to a piece by Georg Friedrich Haas for example. In his music you can clearly hear historical references and preferences, but his compositions are nevertheless completely and unapologetically 'Haas'. I also love the edgy, energizing sound of Beat Furrer’s pieces for soloists orchestra. But then also slowly evolving to Ligeti’s Atmospheres.

It's often humorously said that orchestra members resemble their instruments. Which instrument would you be?

Composers are saxophones, for sure. Or electric guitars. Or whatever doesn’t belong in the everyday orchestral line-up, because the sound is definitely different when we’re there: the other musicians in the orchestra are way more attentive and conscious of how they sound when we are in the picture.

I’m sure my Mom would say I’m a piccolo, fairly small but able to be the loudest in the room.

If you had the chance to collaborate with any artist outside the classical realm, who would it be?

I love cinematographic art, I’d do film scoring probably. As with composers, I have the whole list of directors I love for various reasons.

At one point in life I’d love to be able to be part of some music-therapy project for children war survivors, like Nigel Osborne and Brian Eno did in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have immense admiration for fellow musicians who are able to do this kind of healing work.


Klarafestival: Another Mélisande · 23.03.2024 · Flagey

A forest, a castle and a love triangle between two half-brothers and an elusive girl: welcome to the misty universe of Pelléas et Mélisande. Arnold Schönberg transformed Maeterlinck’s symbolist masterpiece into a compelling symphonic poem.

There is no better answer to Mélisande’s mysterious silence than the work of the Croatian composer Mirela Ivicevic: rebellious, personal, rooted in the now. The Brussels Philharmonic premieres her new violin concerto, with Ilya Gringolts as soloist.

Playlist Curated Ivicevic

Curated by... Mirela Ivicevic

we asked the composer which music she carries close to her heart... The result? A compilation of mesmerizing ballads reminiscent of her young adulthood

2023 Brussels Philharmonic Kazushi Ono c Lars Bauwens Fuji Superia400 Canon EF 1

Close Encounters: Open Rehearsal · 21.03.2024 · Flagey

Open rehearsals: experience the orchestra up close and feel the power of our collective.Watch the rehearsal from a unique spot: the stalls on our Studio 4 stage. Afterwards, chat with someone from on or behind the stage—be it the conductor, soloist, musician, or a production team member.