…the most remarkable is the voice of Backovic,which gives the music its natural warmth and colour’ (Musicframes)
Jovana Backovic was born in Belgrade, Serbia where she graduated composition from the Faculty of Music Art in 2006. While studying for degree in composition, she founded, composed for, organized and led the band ‘Arhai’ in Belgrade from 1998 and their debut album ‘Mysterion’ was released in 2006 on the national label PGP . In its Belgrade incarnation Arhai was a ten-piece electro-folk orchestra that developed a fusion of traditional music from the Balkan region with ambient sounds and jazz-influenced improvisation, using classical flute, ‘cello, piano, electric guitar, bass and percussion, along with a quartet of female singers. As a UK resident Jovana continued to create music under the name Arhai, moving toward solo performance using live electronics. When she moved in UK to complete her PhD thesis, she began her collaboration with British folk guitarist and tambura-player Adrian Lever and developed the current format of live multilayered vocals combined with tambura, tarabuka and electronics. This collaborative work was generously supported by Arts Council of England.
Her contemporary classical works include Silence’ (Lorca’s lyrics) for a mixed choir (2000) / Piano suite (2000) / ‘Is it really me’ (Juan Ramon Jimenez lyrics) song for a voice and piano (2000) / String trio (2001) / ‘Four haiku lyrics’ for voice, flute and marimba (2002) / ‘Crazy woman’ for female choir and two pianos (2004) / ‘Trilok Trio’ for clarinet, violoncello and marimba (2004) / ‘Inqualieren’ for two guitars (2004) /Basic moods ( string quintet ) Concertino for piano and orchestra (2006) / Nigredo (2010) ‘Echoes’ ( 2009 ) ‘The Balkanites’ ( 2013 ) ‘Vesper’s call’ (2017) for piano and mezzo soprano – commissioned and premiered by Women of the World Festival in London ‘Tales of the Macabre’ for solo piano (2018).
Jovana also composes music for theatre, ( most recent production ‘Pepper and Honey’ by Notnow Collecitve that premiered in Derby theatre on 30th of March 2019) as well as feature and documentary movies. Her current interest lies within the field of electro-acoustic music and live improvisational performance – exploring the process of the creation and development of individual music identity through improvisation and the use of technology. Jovana has completed her PhD thesis at University of East Anglia in 2014, with the subject ‘Between Two Words: Approaching Balkan oral tradition through the use of technology as compositional and performance medium’.
(2013) Interview – Hajde London (video)
(2016) Interview with Orphea ( Jovana Backovic and Jasmina Stosic ) on Balkan music heritage by Josie Carder ( Not so Popular )