The Most Difficult Challenge
'The degree of harmony among the personalities within the ensemble
CP: What was the most difficult challenge you had to tackle?
RV: The most difficult thing was getting used to one another. We do more than 200 public performances per year and that means spending a whole lot of time together. We're talking about eight different personalities here. It took a good while before we learned how to best work with one another, to think like a family, to really click. There is no mystery in the fact that the degree of harmony among the personalities within the ensemble greatly impacts the quality of sound.
'We can do an all-night concert
CP: Arguably, the longer an ensemble, a klapa, performs, the more songs they're expected to have under their belt. Now, after Ragusavecchia has been performing for several years, how big is your repertoire?
RV: We have some 100 songs in our repertoire. Moreover, we can do an all night concert (circa 2 hours) consisting of folk songs and the new Croatian hits (in klapa-style) at the moment's notice.
CP: When it comes to your music - the concerts you do - could you tell us your preferences in terms of themes of the songs you chose to perform?
RV: Honestly, we best like songs with themes about our homeland. After all, we first became known for our interpretation of the song literally: “Croatia, I love you from my soul; translation proper. "Croatia, I love you with all of my heart".
CP: Some klapas prefer to sing a cappella, some again accompany their voices with instrumental melodies. What can those who never previously attended your concert expect?
RV: Generally, half of the concert we sing a cappella, and the other half with instrumental back up (7 instruments).
Festivals and Discography
CP: Omiš Festival is the best known and respected competition for Dalmatian klapas. Has Ragusavecchia performed before the audiences at Omiš?
RV: Yes, we have. Three times, actually.
Won third place at the most respected klapa-festival.
CP: We know you get rated by the panel of judges as well as the audience. How did you fare?
RV: Our debut was quite successful, really. We won the third place. Last year, in the Finals Evening, we were ranked 10th best by the panel of judges, and 5th best respectively by the popular vote.
CP: Congratulations! That's quite something. Tell us, we hear Ragusavecchia also has its CD out. Is this right?
RV: Yes, that is right. At the end of February, 2004, publishing house “Orfej” published our first album titled “Iz Duše te ljubim”.
CP: Is there a song on that album you would single out?
RV: Although, naturally, we do feel we gave it our all in every song on the album, one of them still might stand out -- “Croatio iz duše te ljubim”, literally: “Croatia, I love you from my soul; translation proper. "Croatia, I love you with all of my heart".
CP: This song is rather well known to the lovers of klapa-style music. Is it true it was also nominated for one of the prestigious awards?
RV: Well, we're quite pleased to say that it was nominated for the best overall klapa-type song in 2004.
CP: Besides Omiš, could you tell our readers where else they could enjoy some good klapa-style music?
RV: Glad you asked this question. Namely, we organize a yearly gathering of the best Croatian klapas right here in Cavtat. It's quite an event. It starts on the first Saturday of every September and runs for three days.
CP: This has got to be highly competitive. . .
RV: Au contraire. People, that is, performers and audiences alike, find this festival quite amusing. The fact is, it's interesting and inviting precisely because it’s not driven by quest for high honors or trying to be a better performer than some other klapa, but by simple joy of singing of the Dalmatian songs.
CP: For the good times sake?
RV: For the good times sake. During this time, Cavtat constantly echoes with song and good vibe.
CP: Audiences must love this . . .
RV: Well, it may not be too bold to claim that among the Dalmatian folk-song lovers you'll hardly find one who doesn't enjoy a sip or two of some fine wine all while being serenaded by some of the country's best klapas.
CP: You have achieved quite a success as a klapa-ensemble. Where do you see yourselves taking Ragusavecchia?
RV: For the first while, we've plans to just ready a whole lot of new repertoire.
CP: Any live performances?
RV: We actually just learned that we’re invited to do an all-night concert on the steps of St. Blaise [a church located in one of the Dubrovnik's old-town's squares] on December 29th.
CP: Certainly not a small honor. How about concerts outside the county, perhaps even outside Croatia?
RV: We have had a few notable performances throughout Europe already and would now very much like to perform before the audiences in overseas countries like Australia or the US.
CP: Australia or the US? Do you think you would enough folks interested in hearing Dalmatian klapa-style songs in those distant countries?
RV: Most certainly. Namely, there is a large number of Croatians living in those countries. It'd be a wonderful thing to have the opportunity to sing for them their songs, using the tunes they well know and love and, at least for a few brief moments, take them back to their homeland, to Croatia.
CP: We hope the Croatian communities abroad in Australia and the US would soon get their chance to hear you perform. Is there a number or an address at which your fans and other interested parties could contact you?
RV: Yes, we welcome being contacted. Interested parties can do so by:
Mobile: 385.91.456.0122 or by email: email@example.com.
Our website is at: klapa-ragusavecchia.com
CP: Thank you for your time and for this insightful conversation. All the best in your future endeavors!
RV: Thank you.