The Prešeren Day, the Slovenian Cultural Holiday, was not celebrated only at home. Many Slovenians living abroad paid tribute to the greatest Slovenian poet, France Prešeren, by organizing various events and concerts spiced with Slovenian music and poetry.
On Monday, 8 February 2016, the Home of humanitarian organizations Dara Dzambaz in Skopje housed a celebration of the Slovenian Cultural Holiday. The celebration was organized by the Slovenian Society France Prešeren in collaboration with the Macedonian Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia. The event consisted of various performances, including a number of Slovenian songs sung by the France Prešeren Choir, a recital of poems by Feri Lainšček by students of supplementary Slovenian language classes, a short play of Gianni Rodari’s Dedek in vnukinja, Napoleon’s Coat by Napoleon Coste and a guitar rendition of Fernando Carulli’s Waltz. Students of the Faculty of Philology Blazhe Koneski in Skopje recited a poem by Ivan Minatti, Nekoga moraš imeti rad, and excerpts of Ivan Cankar’s Skodelica kave. Young actors contributed to the celebration with a performance of Dvorjenje. They staged poems from Prešeren’s cycle Gazele and Nezakonska mati and concluded with the song Siva pot. Also contributing to the event was the singer and musician Pero Dimitriević, who performed a couple of Slovenian songs.
Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina
On 7 February 2016, the Association of Slovenians Triglav celebrated the Slovenian Cultural Holiday in collaboration with the Bosnian Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia and the Banski dvor Cultural Center. The celebration included a magical concert by the Maribor Music and Ballet Secondary Conservatory Symphonic Orchestra. The concert included compositions by Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Franz Schubert and Benjamin Ipavec. The piano was played by a young 16-year-old pianist, Žan Milošič Dundek and the orchestra conducted by maestro Slavko Magdić. The celebration was attended by many. Among them were the Slovenian Ambassador in Bosnia, Iztok Grmek; the Consul of the Consular Office of the Republic of Slovenia in Banja Luka, Marjan Ristič; the representative of the Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Slovenians Abroad, Marjan Cukrov; and the Head of the OHR Office and Deputy High Representative in Banja Luka, Ulrike Hartmann.
Washington and New York, the USA
Celebrating the Slovenian Cultural Holiday, the Slovenian Embassy in Washington housed an exhibition of posters by Jože Damjan entitled Oko (The Eye). The Prešeren Day was also celebrated in New York, where people had an opportunity to witness the performance of the Jan Kus Quartet, a recital of poetry and a painting exhibition by Miro Zupančič. The visitors were addressed by the Slovenian Ambassador Božo Cerar and the European Ambassador David O’Sullivan. They stressed that this year’s celebration also coincides with the 25th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence. On the stage, Kus was joined by members of the quartet: Sean Fitzpatrick (piano), Dan Martinez (bass) and Joel E. Mateo (drums) and Prešeren’s poems were read by actor Gaia Cherie. On Sunday, the Church of St. Cyriil in New York has opened the exhibition of paintings by Miro Zupančič, who lives and works in the USA.
On 5 February 2016, the Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Canada organized a concert of the Slovenian accordionist and music teacher from Mattonaia by Trieste, Denis Novat. The event was organized at the University in Ottawa in collaboration with the Slovenian community in Ontario and the Austrian and Italian Embassies in Canada. Denis Novato became the world champion in playing the diatonic accordion in 1998. Aside from playing in Slovenia and Italy, he has performed in countless other countries. He has been nominated for a Grammy for his collaboration on Valter Ostanek’s album. So far, Novat has recorded 25 albums. By the end of the concert, the audience who filled up the Academic Hall of the University of Ottawa was so thrilled the musician had to do an encore, performing two additional songs. Aside from the concert in Ottawa, Denis also performed in Toronto alongside Murski val (A Slovenian band from Canada) and in Dom Lipa and the Sava Club in Kitchener.
On Friday, 5 February 2016, the Slovenian Embassy in Copenhagen organized a gathering for the Slovenian community, where they celebrated the Slovenian Cultural holiday. At the beginning of the celebration, the Ambassador, Tone Kajzer, addressed the audience with a speech about the role of the Slovenian culture, language and literature in strengthening the love for our homeland and preserving the Slovenian collective identity, which is of vital importance among Slovenians living abroad. The event featured a performance of an acclaimed Slovenian accordion virtuoso, Dean Delguisto who lives and studies in Denmark. Along his side were the representatives of the youngest generation of Danish Slovenians – Enej, Rok and Žana. Their performance included a rendition of O Vrba and other poems by our greatest poet.
Each year, the main cultural event in Klagenfurt is organized by the Christian Cultural Association (KKZ) and the Slovenian Educational Association (SPZ) in collaboration with the Slovenian Writers' Association in Austria and the General Consulate of Slovenia in Klagenfurt. This year's honorary speaker was the historian Teodor Domej, who discussed the Slovenian literary language in his speech. Performing on stage were numerous reciters, members of the Young Theater Group KPD Planina Sele, Youth Choir SPD Danica, Choir of the Club of Slovenian Students in Carinthia and the instrumental trio Matjaž from Slovenia.
The holiday was also celebrated by the local Slovenian associations. In Reka by St. Jacob in Rosenthal, they organized a musical-literary evening where they read works by Desa Muck. The Slovene Educational Society Zarja and the Slovene Educational Society Valentin Polanšek commemorated the Slovenian Cultural Holiday on Saturday, 13 February 2016, in the Bad Eisenkappel Parish Hall. The Catholic Educational Society Planina in Sela will celebrate the Prešeren Day on 19 February 2016.
On 8 February 2016, the residence of the Slovenian Ambassador in Warsaw housed a ceremony, celebrating the Slovenian Cultural Holiday. The event was organized in collaboration with students of the Slovenian language at the University of Warsaw under the mentorship of Prof. Jasmina Šuler Galos. Following his introductory speech, Ambassador Krmelj shed light on the historic role of culture in the shaping of the Slovenian national identity and stressed the importance of nurturing the Slovenian language everywhere where Slovenians live. Polish students of the Slovenian language recited poems and sang songs by different Slovenian authors, including Prešeren, Vodnik, Cankar, Jenko, Gradnik, Soemen, Šalamun, Taufer and the late Aleš Debeljak. They baked pastry with hidden quotes by Slovene authors and published a pamphlet, commemorating the literary event.
The Pančevo Cultural Centre in Serbia housed a festive celebration organized by the Slovenian Association of South Banat Logarska Dolina in Pančevo. The whole event was recorded by the Serbian broadcasting house RTV Panonija.
Text: Andreja Jernejčič
Featured photo: Wikipedia
Other Photos: Slovenian Associations Abroad