Lubenice music evenings

In the early 1990s, “Cresanka”, the biggest local company, decided to organize the Lubenice Evenings - a series of classical concerts held in the main church of Lubenice. From the very beginning, expert assistance and guidance was provided by a renowned Croatian violinist Ino Mirković.

Lubenice is a beautiful place by itself, with a certain air of mystery. The 4.000 year old stone village leaves all visitors breathless. The 4,000 years of continuity, from the Bronze Age to the few remaining inhabitants still living there today. Already the first view of Lubenice from the access road is stunning, the village surfacing like a fatamorgana before the traveler’s eyes; an impression which is intensified by walking through the hidden corners, backyards, narrow streets, and vaulted passages. Lubenice is wonderful and the Lubenice Evenings make the experience even richer.

The organization of the Lubenice Evenings was taken over to the Municipality of Cres, which subsequently became the City of Cres. For a couple of years the art director was Dušan Prašelj, a conductor, composer, and choirmaster from Rijeka, after which the baton went back to Prof. Dr. Ino Mirković, one of UNESCO’s Artists for Peace. In 2010, a renowned Croatian soprano Lidija Horvat-Dunjko became the art director of the Lubenice Evenings, and Walter Salković became the executive director. Concerts performed by world class Croatian and international classical musicians take place during the summer months, always on a Friday.

The opening evening takes place in the square in front of the main church, a setting big enough for larger ensembles and orchestras, as well as for performances of musical theatre, operas, and operettas. The program starts with a flag raising ceremony accompanied by the sounds of the anthem “Zustajte ovdeka” (Eng. Stay Here) written by Valter Mužić, a poet from Orlec. The festival flag carries the Glagolitic letter “L”. Local klapa groups and members of the folk dance group from Orlec often take part in the opening evening, proving that traditional music and customs can be considered as equals to the masterpieces of classical music.

All subsequent concerts take place in the main church. Benches may be somewhat uncomfortable, and it can get a little hot inside even though the temperature at Lubenice is always a degree or two lower than at Cres or the nearby Valun. In accordance with the special epidemiological conditions all concerts are held outside, encouraging the organizers to always discover new spaces and settings hidden all over Lubenice. Sometimes a relentless cricket decides to perform its own concert while a violin virtuoso or a pianist play their melodies in front of the altar, but musicians state that nothing can disturb them as they completely surrender themselves to music. Despite all that, concerts at Lubenice have a particular charm, making them a special experience, different from music events at big concert halls. That goes for the audience sitting only a few metres apart from the performers, and for performers themselves, who can see pleasure on the audience’s faces, which is not the case when they perform on big stages under the spotlights.

The musicians who perform at Lubenice Evenings have also performed in the most famous music halls in the world. Some of them are Zagrebački solisti (Eng. the Zagreb Soloists), Collegium musicum Fluminense, Mayumi Kamei, Sandra Bagarić, Wiliam Hopson, Pierre Yves Artaud, Maxim Fedotov, Carlo Marchione, Allessandro Verducci, Kirill Rodin, Stefan Milenkovich, Milton Masciadri, Jovan Kolundžija, and many others.

Besides, Lubenice must be enjoyed through all the senses. Vizually, by looking at the sea and the village itself; the scents of pristine nature and aromatic herbs; the taste of homemade lamb and other delicacies at the local tavern; and, finally, the sounds of exquisit music. This is why for Lubenice and for the entire island of Cres the Lubenice Music Evenings represent more than just a music event: its greatest value lies in making the place alive during the summer months.

A sentence pronounced by Vladimir Kranjčević, one of the most renowned Croatian conductors and a frequent guest at the Lubenice Evenings, reaffirms itself every time: “This is a fabulous festival, and Lubenice is magical. God must have been in a great mood while creating this part of the World.”