The regional cooperation established with the Zagreb and the Slovenian philharmonic orchestras under the Dot – Dot – Dot project is one of the BPO Foundation’s most significant projects, with far-reaching effects.
The first cultural endeavour of that scale, the project was initiated 2011 by directors of the three national orchestras in the region and formally endorsed by the presidents and prime ministers of all three countries, mayors of the three cities and U.S. embassies.
Over the course of three consecutive seasons, until 2014, the three orchestras realised a joint programme as part of their regular concert seasons, consisting of the same pieces, soloists and conductors, as well as their mutual guest appearances.
The success of this project strengthened the three orchestras’ activities, enabled further reforms of the culture policy, ensured more transparent funding and alignment with the European standards regarding the management of cultural institutions.
New Years – Celebrating Diversity
Between 2011 and 2014, one of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert series was titled New Years. This series celebrated new years according to the Islamic, Chinese, Gregorian, Julian and Jewish calendars. The project was supported by the European Union.
We did not need to go far in search for inspiration for this project. Within just a couple of hundred metres from the building of the Belgrade Philharmonic, there is a synagogue, a mosque, a Christian Orthodox and a Catholic church. Different cultures celebrate the arrival of new years according to different calendars and this aspect is widely recognised as an important element of the cultural, religious and even national identity. The celebration of different new years is a good basis for raising the awareness of a society that relies on cultural pluralism, considering that a similar event is celebrated on different dates and in diverse ways, depending on traditions and calendars. New Year is either associated with celebrations and an atmosphere of optimism, or it is understood as the time for philosophical and spiritual introspection. In any case, the celebration of the New Year is an ideal framework for interaction of different cultures, traditions and customs, since it is dominated by a solemn ceremony marking a new beginning and a new life cycle. This cultural interaction is particularly significant for Serbia, a country on the crossroads of cultures, between the East and the West.
All those reasons influenced the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra and its Foundation to start a concert series that celebrates new years according to the Gregorian, Julian, Chinese, Jewish and Islamic calendars. By harnessing the power of music, which is, by definition, the most effective tool for breaching cultural barriers, we are introducing our audience to the universal values that we share with many peoples who lived or still live in this corner of the Earth. The celebration of the date that symbolises the new beginning creates an atmosphere in which diversity is desirable, the beginning of understanding within a society and the foundation of its pluralism.
We deeply believe that cultural institutions such as the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra need to take an active role in creating platforms for dialogue among different cultures, since it is the art, and especially the music, that works as the medium that stimulates spirituality and creativity as the values that make the world more sympathetic and more dignified.
In addition to the activities focused on enhancing the quality of the orchestra’s work, which is its primary goal, the Belgrade Philharmonic Foundation has also realised numerous social responsibility projects. Notable projects include:
- Cooperation with the Creative Educational Centre. At the concerts of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra concerts, the Centre’s beneficiaries are engaged as ushers, tasked with handing out concert programmes to the audience. In addition to social inclusion and work integration of people with mental disabilities, this project also contributes to raising awareness of the audience and society in general.
- Cooperation with the Subotica Gerontology Centre. This cooperation is realised in two work streams: organised visits for the Gerontology Centre beneficiaries to regular concerts of the Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra in Belgrade and guest appearances of chamber ensembles in Subotica, on the Centre’s premises.
- Cooperation with the University of Arts and schools of music in Kosovo and Metohia. Subject to the available resources, the Belgrade Philharmonic Foundation provides support to music education and development of music life in Serb enclaves in Kosovo and Metohia. To date, visits, performances and master classes given by Belgrade Philharmonic musicians have taken place in Kosovo and Metohia, visits to Belgrade Philharmonic concerts by students from Kosovo and Metohia have been organised and musical instruments and supplies for music education have been donated.