No Borders Orchestra has emerged from the desire to create an excellent regional professional symphony orchestra, a project which calls for a new kind of communication.
NBO is founded on two basic premises. The social aspect of the project is achieved by the deconstruction of stereotypes, overcoming of nationalism, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, the gory legacy of the past and through the affirmation of cultural values that are in a complete state of disarray in local transitional societies. Being fully aware of the past, NBO is not a project nostalgic about ex-Yugoslavia. On the contrary, it is completely committed to the future. Nostalgia abolishes criticism and critical engagement is at the basis of our idea. The right to the future requires the courage to face all traumatic facts from the past. An honest dialogue about difficult responsibility issues dispels demons from the past and opens doors for possibilities that are yet to come.
From the artistic side, we wish to create a symphonic orchestra where all members will have the motivation, engagement and energy of a chamber orchestra and will breathe like a big chamber ensemble. NBO is an ensemble of soloists. We are asking questions and with our performances we offer some answers: Why a symphony orchestra in 21st century? Why classical music at all? How can music become relevant again? How can music become a way of life again? What can be done with the ritual of classical concert, which hasn’t changed since the 19th century? How can classical music stop being a museum exhibit? How can the relation between the audience and musicians be changed? Why does no alternative scene of classical music exist? What does it mean: to listen? What are our expectations and valuations based on while listening? How can we open up for something different? How can we play and listen freely?
Because of all those questions and possible answers we are offering, NBO is open for new performers, new audience, new concert venues, new visions and new aspects of communication. NBO is space filled with new possibilities.
Our main interest is the connection between music and life! The fundamental word in our language is communication. Communication means consciousness that together we can do more than individually. NBO is call for regional cooperation and communication being made to artists and intellectuals of different profiles: philosophers, sociologists, musicians, visual artists, writers, architects, directors, choreographers, performers…
NBO has been inspired by West-East Divan Orchestra (WEDO), founded by conductor Daniel Barenboim and Palestine intellectual Edward Said, where Israeli and Palestinian musicians play side by side. Musicians who had the opportunity to work in this orchestra came out changed from this experience both as artists as well as persons. This is what we aspire to in our case as well! It’s not about the elimination of mutual differences or any kind of imposed harmonization – it is about developing an experience that differences don’t have to be synonymous with conflict and should in fact be associated with richness instead. While creating WEDO, they knew that one orchestra couldn’t bring peace to a tortured Near East, but at the same time they felt that it was essential to take action, to meet The Other, to understand his thoughts and feelings, without the need to reach an agreement.
Politics shouldn’t be the exclusive property of a political class, just as music is not supposed to belong uniquely to elites, whether they are old or new. NBO wishes to avoid the trap of artistic excellence as an excuse for marginalized self-complacency, voluntary exclusion from society and time. In a way, artistic music shares the fate of discriminated social entities, as they are being offered a paradoxical choice: stay trapped in your own four walls in order to be accepted by the society. In such circumstances, it only makes sense to step out, be loud, be visible and audible…
Border is the other name for prejudice. NBO is a call to play across the borders of purported, usual, and to listen without prejudices.
Is the wish of NBO to change the world? Such thing will certainly be done if at least one young musician from the “periphery” country is enabled to realize that he is not born with the right talent in the wrong place and the wrong time. Is there something utopian in the entire attitude? Maybe, but is it necessarily a mistake? Why would dystopia always represent a credible concept?
No Borders Orchestra is about making a decision that art should represent the change that we wish to see in the world…