While the hall of the J. J. Zmaj Children’s Residential Home is being filled by youngsters from the Zvečanska Centre, the BPO musicians are preparing to play. The children in the audience fidget in anticipation of their first classical music concert. The teachers patiently explain to them how they should behave and tell them to wait until their peers with developmental disabilites are seated.
The story about old uncle Vivaldi, told through the most beautiful parts of his Four Seasons, can start now.
Actor Vladimir Aleksić, who makes a well-rehearsed team with the musicians, comes out on the stage and invites the orchestra to join him. Nevertheless, the youngsters have prepared a surprise for the guests. The Residential Home choir AprilZMAJun performs a number about the Belgrade Philharmonic on top of a musical background by Disciplina Kičme – “Šta je dobro, šta nam treba? Naša Filharmonija!” (What is good, what do we need? Our Belgrade Philharmonic!) The musicians show their delight by knocking their bows against the stands, the children are laughing, dancing around the stage and after bowing they rush to take their seats for the concert.
The children who are unable to walk or those struggling to understand what is happening around them are noticeably enjoying themselves, swaying in the rhythm of the music in their teachers’ arms, whereas the kids who can walk independently jump in their chairs and clap their hands, their eyes glistening with joy. The school-age children answer questions: “The spring is cheerful!”, “I love the summer”, and then, together with Vladimir, they shiver to the sounds of the winter. The oldest residents of the J. J. Zmaj children’s home, already high-school students, are also in the audience for their first encounter with classical music.
“We have experienced something new and unforgettable today in a wonderful ambience. My senior colleagues, who have worked here for 20 years or more, told me they had never experienced anything like this! We are all full of impressions – children and teachers alike. Even the youngest residents of the Zvečanska Centre are with us, including those with developmental disabilities, and I think they have special appreciation for the music. We are grateful to the Belgrade Philharmonic for making this event available for our children and hope that this is just the first step”, said Janko Tabaković, J. J. Zmaj Children’s Residential Home Superintendent.
In the final minutes of socialising with the musicians, children try out the instruments. Playing them is difficult for everyone, obviously. However, they are all aware that they have done something big, beautiful and important.
Tears of joy, huge excitement and indications of successful future cooperation wrap up the day, which both institutions look forward to repeating soon.