Spring was finally in the air as the CCCS performed for over 500 guests in late April and early May at Humber Valley United Church in Etobicoke and Oakville’s Holy Trinity Croatian Catholic Church. The concerts, entitled Dalmatian Melodies, celebrated the history, culture and music of Dalmatia, a Croatian gem on the eastern Adriatic Sea.
The audience enjoyed beautiful music and stunning images of sparkling blue water, picturesque islands and inlets, rugged mountains and warm, friendly people as they were swept away to the historical cities of Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik. The rich and varied program included sacred, traditional and folk selections and it didn’t take long for audience members to start singing along.
The adult choir, 50 voices strong, was joined by the new eight-member youth choir for several numbers. Both choirs were accompanied by past Merit Award recipients Julijana Hajdinjak (2014) and her sister Danijela (2018) as well as guest artists including a youth string quartet, trumpeter, enthusiastic tamburaši musicians and an organist and pianist.
One of the evening’s most enchanting moments came when choir member Leo Spralja paid tribute to his late father Joso. He and Ed, joined by the Youth Choir, sang a song Joso often performed during his own musical career, which saw him honoured to be the first Croatian to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York. The concert also commemorated other musicians who contributed to Croatia’s rich musical past.
Other highlights included performances by this year’s two Merit Award recipients. Final-year Queen’s University student Mia Milicevic captivated the audience with the stirring aria Un Bel Di Vedremo from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Then second-year Mohawk College student Michael Kelemen dazzled at the piano, sharing his stunning interpretation of Morel’s Étude de Sonorité No. 2. And the audience was charmed watching the enthusiastic youth choir joyfully sing under the guidance of Assistant Director Julijana Hajdinjak.
The farewell number, Vjeruj u Ljubav, Believe in Love, was the perfect finishing touch – and parting message – to a wonderful visit to Croatia’s beautiful Dalmatian Coast.