The operational start of the Western Balkans Youth Orchestra, founded 2019, was originally planned for 1 March 2020. Everything was ready, all participants were eager to take their instruments in their hands and make music together. But three days before the official starting day, the first working phase and concert tour had to be called off due to the dramatic development of the Corona pandemic. What a disappointment for all who had worked for months to make this happen!
But now, 1 1/2 years later, the WBYO is again ready to do it: On 8 Octobre 2021, 30 professional young musicians from the 6 non-EU Western Balkan countries* (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia) with two guests from Germany will come together in Prishtina/Kosovo. In the first days, an international spectrum of eminent lecturers will give master classes for the individual instruments. And WBYO artistic director and conductor Desar Sulejmani will start rehearsing with the orchestra as a whole - in this first round a string orchestra. Finally, from Octobre 14 to 17, the orchestra will give three concerts in Prishtina (subject to actual COVID rules), Skopje/North Macedonia and Tirana/Albania.
As the development of the pandemia continuously brought uncertainties into the planning and at the same time the capabilities of local administrations to render support were expected to be tighter than ever, the WBYO management had decided to reduce the complexity of this new attempt to the lowest possible level which would still allow to achieve the key objective: letting the young musicians convene to make music together and to share their enthusiasm with the public by giving a minimum number of concerts. Thus, the originally planned 1.300 km concert tour through the six involved WB countries* was this time limited to three concerts in close-by cities of Kosovo, North Macedonia and Albania. And there was a “plan B” of virtual and streaming operation for the case that even in Octobre 2021 a “real” getting together and giving concerts proved impossible. A plan which might have to be used in the case of the Prishtina concert, depending on the further development of the COVID rules there.
After the intitial activities planned for March 2020 had to be called off due to Corona, the orchestra refused to accept the limitations of travel and joint music-making as a reason to rest. In autumn 2020, WBYO started the project “Building Musical Bridges 2020 – ESMA and WBYO go virtual”, a cooperation with the sister project European Summer Music Academy. Building Musical Bridges consisted of virtual master classes for violin, viola, violoncello, double bass, flute, piano and singing and resulted in the production of a number of video recordings now available on the Youtube channels of ESMA and WBYO. For WBYO, the first recording marked a milestone: It was the first joint musical exercise of the young musicians across the Western Balkans borders, and at the same time it was its first distributed recording and assembly of the instruments for a joint production – a substantial technical challenge.
Ideas for 2022 include a working phase and concerts in the Euregio of Aachen/Germany and Maastricht/The Netherlands in cooperation with local Rotary Clubs and for the summer an opera project covering all 6 involved Western Balkans countries*.
Finally - WBYO on stage!
17.10.2021: First successful concerts in Prishtina, Skopje and Tirana, after an intense week of masterclasses and rehearsals. Expect more coverage within the next days.
The WBYO bus is rolling!
07.10.2021: Touring between Tirana, Podgorica, Prishtina and Belgrade, to pick up participating musicians from all over WB for the 1st working phase and concert tour of WBYO.
See you soon!
First WBYO recordings are online!
21.12.2020: Corona could not stop us! See and hear the first appearances of the WBYO! Virtual recordings end months of silence.
June 2021: WBYO meets Rotary Orchestra Germany (ROD)
20.10.2020: WBYO art director Desar Sulejmani will conduct and six young WBYO musicians play at ROD charity concert in Aachen and Maastricht.
Postponed due to COVID-19...
Fighting Corona: A Taste of WBYO -
Online Performances on YouTube
We Want to Hear You! Musicians Invited to Record for WBYO Fanpage
03.06.2020: WBYO management invited each musician of the first phase to record a small piece for the Facebook fanpage of WBYO.
26.05.2020: WBYO on Facebook!
Successful Charity Concert for WBYO in Aachen/Germany
Aachen, 15.02.2020: Five alumni and three tutors of the ESMA European Summer Music Academy gave a charity concert in Aachen/Germany for the benefit of the WBYO project, organized by the Rotary Clubs Aachen-Land, Aachen-Charlemagne and Aachen-Nordkreis.
WBYO Inauguration Concert on March 7 in Tirana (postponed)
Tirana, 28.01.2020: The first concert tour of WBYO starts in the beautiful auditorium of the Cultural Center of the new Orthodox Church in Tirana. The concert will be hosted by the Rotary Club Tirana. Reception after performance sponsored by German Embassy.
*) In the WBYO context, the designation is without prejudice about positions on status.