Pinchbeck, M., 2018.
Requiems for Sarajevo: The dramaturgy of ruins, the musicality of repair
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In 1994, acclaimed conductor Zubin Mehta led the Philharmonic Orchestra of Sarajevo in a performance of Mozart?s Requiem at the city?s National Library (City Hall) lying in ruins after constant bombardment. At this stage in the Siege of the city at least 10,000 people had lost their lives including four members of the orchestra whose seats remained empty. The concert was shown live in television across Europe and the USA (but not the UK) and witnessed live by an audience of 50 local dignitaries and UN representatives. The concert starts, as documentation shows, with Mehta walking across the debris of the bombing and the dust of one million books incinerated in a fire on the first day of the Siege. It is claimed that by destroying the library, the Serb aggressors were attempting an act of ?memoricide?. In 2014, I created a devised performance with a cast of English, German and Bosnian actors that explored Ravel?s Bolero in relation to the city of Sarajevo, the Winter Olympics in 1984 and the Bosnian War (1992-1996). In our piece, Bolero, we re-enacted Mehta?s 1994 Requiem. The performance was shown at Nottingham Playhouse and Sarajevo War Theatre. While we were in Sarajevo in 2014, the City Hall was reopened with a performance by the Vienna Philharmonic. Built when Sarajevo was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the building represents the cultural heritage of the city as well as its constant struggle for a sense of regional and national identity. Its regeneration, through the use of culture, is a metaphor for the way in which music repairs. I propose a provocation exploring the complex, post-conflict, geo-politics involved in working in Sarajevo within its tacit cultural borders.