Serbian composer Jug K. Marković (b. December 25, 1987) has been selected as the recipient of the 2019 ISCM Young Composer Award for his 2017 Nirvana for mixed choir which was performed by the Latvian Radio Choir under the direction of Kaspars Ādamsons on May 6, 2019 at Jaani kirik (St. John’s Church) in Tartu, Estonia during the 2019 ISCM World Music Days (WNMD) hosted by the Estonian Music Days in Tallinn, Tartu, and Laulasmaa, Estonia. This award, which was initiated in 2002 (and since 2013 has been co-sponsored by Music on Main), is given each year to an outstanding composer under 35 years of age whose work was featured during ISCM’s annual World New Music Days festival. The jury selects a composer whose programmed work shows great promise, and that composer then receives a commission to compose a new piece to be featured on a future World New Music Days festival. The three-member jury which adjudicated the 2019 ISCM Young Composer Award consisted of Magnus Bunnskog (Sweden), Irina Hasnaş (Romania), and Daryl Jamieson (Japan). The jury commended Jug Marković’s use of the choral instrument’s full potential, with rich variations of material and timbre through the full span of the piece. The poem’s range of imagery and phonic colours were fully exploited, and the powerful urgency of its message was reflected in the music. The announcement was made during a reception at Tallinn’s Mustpeade maja (House of the Black Heads) following the final 2019 WNMD concert on May 10, 2019 and was presented by newly elected ISCM President Glenda Keam and ExCom member George Kentros.
Nirvana is based on a famous Serbian poem of the same name by modernist/symbolist poet Vladislav Petković Dis (1880-1917) who was a prominent figure in the literary life of Belgrade at the beginning of the twentieth century. This particular text has been chosen as a part of the 14-18 TENSO European network of professional chamber choirs project, focusing on the texts inspired by or from the period of the First World War. The poem “Nirvana,” apart from being one of the most beautiful poems of Serbian language, in a poetically pessimistic way deals with the very topic of war, death, and transcension. It is a part of the book of poems called Utopljene Duše (Drowned Souls) with its title being almost prophetic. The war took Dis’s life very soon. He died when a torpedo hit and sunk the ship he was on in the Ionian sea on his way home in 1917. The recording of Jug K. Marković’s Nirvana included here is a Soundcloud embed from an earlier performance of Nirvana by the Latvian Chamber Choir under the direction of James Wood during the TENSO days in Nova Gorica, Slovenia.
Jug K. Marković was born in Belgrade where he graduated at the Faculty of Philosophy and afterwards at the Faculty of Music Art. Apart from his principal teacher Vlastimir Trajković, he has been tutored multiple times by the British composer Michael Finnissy. In addition, he had attended masterclasses with composers such as Enno Poppe, Georges Aperghis, Mark Andre, John Corigliano, Fabien Levy, Raphael Cendo, Richard Barret etc. He collaborated with ensembles like Ensemble Intercontemporain, Klangforum Wien, RTS Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Choir Ireland, Latvian Radio Choir etc. Marković was a composer in residence at Snape Maltings/Aldeburgh Music where he was tutored by Mr. Finnissy. He was also a composer in residence at the “Festival d’Aix-en-Provence”. He is the winner of the TENSO young composers award 2017 and winner of the 3rd Anton Matasovsky Composers Competition. He was awarded 1st prize at the Hong Kong Percussion Composition Competition, Special Prize at Busan Maru International Competition and Official recommendation of 65th International Rostrum of Composers. Jug attended Impuls Academy in Graz (2017), 47th Darmstadt Course, ManiFeste academy (Ircam 2017 and 2018), TENSO young composers workshop (2017), Britten Pears Young Artists Program (2017) and Academy of Donaueschinger Musiktage (2014)”. This year he was granted a residency at Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon where he will start his first operatic project.