The String Chamber Orchestra of the Music Academy of the University of Zagreb was founded in the autumn of 2006 on the initiative of prof. Jože Haluza. The purpose of such an ensemble is to enable string band students to acquire the first experience and the skill of playing together in a larger ensemble, with the maximum communication between the members as well as the full creative effort, since the ensemble acts independently, without a conductor. Through projects such as these students gradually introduce themselves into a professional way of work that is expected of future musicians.

Every year, the Orchestra has several concerts at the Academy Hall  (F-5), and recently in the new MA building at the B. Bersa Hall, and regularly performs at the J.Š. Slavenski Memorial in Čakovec (since 2008) as well as in Zagreb as part of the “Passion Heritage” event. They perform as part of the Music Cycle “Youth Musicians” at Matica hrvatska in Zagreb, and on several occasions in the Croatian Music Institute’s hall (HGZ). They also performed on three occasions in Vienna – two times at Peterchkirche (2011 under the artistic direction of Catherine Mackintosh and again in November 2017 with conductor and composer Zoran Novačić), and a concert at the Universität für Musick und Darstellende Kunst (2013) under the guidance of prof. J. Haluza. They also performed in Porec as part of the annual European Association of String Pedagogues (ESTA 2012).

Stjepan Vuger was born in 1988 in Zagreb where he completed the XV. a Natural Science Mathematics Grammar School and a Secondary Music School (accordion in the class of Professor Faith Odak, Music Theory) at GU Elly Bašić.

In 2012 he graduated classical accordion in docent Borut Zagor class and undergraduate study of Music Pedagogy at the Music Department of the University of Pula. As an Erasmus scholarship for the academic year 2011/2012. he attended the Music Academy in Gdansk, in the class of prof. Krzysztof Olczak and assistant Paweł Zagańczyk.

As a soloist and chamber member he participated in domestic and international competitions and achieved remarkable results (2nd place – 18th Mlawski festiwal muzyki akoredonowej, Mlawa, Poland; 1st place – 4th International Competition Fisa… Armonie, Trieste, Italy 2. place (category duo) – 49 Internationaler Akkordeon Wettbewerb Klingenthal, Germany, 1st prize and absolute victory – the 46th and 47th Croatian competition of students of music and dance – chamber ensembles).

He attended seminars with significant pedagogues (F. Lips – Russia, E. Moser – Germany, V. Semjonov – Russia, R. Sviackevicius – Lithuania, M. Kern – Germany, J. Djordjevic – Austria). Academic Year 2014/2015.

He studies conducting at the Music Academy in Zagreb in the class of prof. Mladen Tarbuk, he is now a fourth year student. He had a conducting debut with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra in January 2017. He has collaborated with the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, the HRT Symphony Orchestra, the Academy of Dramatic Art in Zagreb, the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb, the Academy of Music in Pula.


Igor Lešnik is the author of the “Hereafter the beginning” project’s concept. The founder of the percussion department of the Zagreb Music Academy appeared as soloist on five continets and his compositions are performed worldvide. Among other distinctions, French Ministry of Culture honoured him with the knighthood title “Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” in 2003.


biNgbang – percussion ensemble of the Zagreb Music Academy has rich history of awards at home and abroad and traveled worldvide performing Croatian music for percussion.

biNgbang musicians: Francesco Mazzoleni, Luis Camacho Montealegre, Andrea Pedron, Petar Pranjić, Marin Borščak, Julija Furek, Jaan Štokelj Wu, Šimun Matišić, Rupert Čunko, Dominik Šabić, Štefan Đurković, Janko Adamek, Mario Čavlek, Suzana Komazin, Vedran Vujec, Božidar Rebić, Marko Mihajlović, Igor Lešnik.


Ivana Bilić is an International marimba/ percussion artist and a commissioned author. Her concert activities include recitals, crossover projects, stage productions, live tv shows and appearances with orchestras and artists in Europe, USA, South America and Asia, in halls such as the Merkin Hall in New York, Palacio de las Bellas Artes in Mexico City
and Franz Liszt Hall in Budapest. A pupil of Igor Lešnik, she is currently teaching at the Zagreb Music Academy



Slavko Juraga is leading drama theatre actor of the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb. Among numerous roles and appearances in films he also guest starred as the Silk King in “Game of Thrones” TV series. Notably, he authored play scripts and directed theatre projects.


The sisters Jessica and Vanessa Porter gave their duo debut in 2009 duringthe renowned national youth competition Jugend Musiziert. Their partnership was very successful and already made national waves so they decided this was to be the way forward and launched themselves as a professional duo.

Jessica and Vanessa moved together to Stuttgart were Vanessa is currently studying on her master degree at the Conservatory with Prof. Marta Klimasara and Prof. Jürgen Spitschka. Jessica finished her master´s degree in the summer of 2016.

The duo regulary perform at high profile festivals and they have toured extensively in Europeas well as Asia. The Duo is scholarship holder of the Bruno-Frey and the Karl Jegg Foundation. In 2016 they made the 1st Prize at the internaional PercussiveArtWebContest of Percussive Arts Society. 

Program notes:

Udacrep Akubrad
Avner Dorman is one of Israel’s most successful and renowned composers.At the age of 25, he became the youngest composer to win Israel’s prestigious Prime Minister’s Award. Currently, he is a C.V. Starr fellow in the Doctoral program of the Julliard School of Music, where he studies with acclaimed composer John Corigliano. In Israel he studied with former Soviet composer Yossef Bardanashvili.

Avner Dorman on Udacrep Akubrad
“What determines the special character of a piece of music written for percussion is the very large choice of instruments. With percussion the possibilities are infinite. The variety and richness of possible combinations allow the composer to embark on a special creative journey. In Udacrep Akubrad (Percadu Darbuka reversed), written for and dedicated to Percadu in 2001, I have chosen a similar set of percussion instruments for each of the players: a marimba, two darbukas, tom-tom and a bass drum. This piece draws its inspiration from the music of our region, extending the “eastern” boundaries as far as the Indian subcontinent. Its two main elements are: the scales and rhythms emanating from the traditional classical music of the peoples of the Mediterranean on the one hand, and on the other: a repetitive minimalism, prevailing also in the music tradition of the Middle East, but in this piece depending on a technique that has been developed during the last thirty years.”

Ceci n´est pas une balle
Ceci n´est pas une balle is a piece for bodypercussion, theatre and mime. This work is an excerpt of the percussion theatre work “Black Box” which premiered in january 7, 2012. Octabones Adi Morag, percussionist, composer and teacher, was born in Israel 1976. In 1996 he established PercaDu, a world class percussion duo together with Tomer Yariv. As a composer Morag, wrote and published several percussion duo works. The marimba duo “Octabones” won the Percussive Arts Society Composition Compe and became a part of the standard repertoire for marimba duo.

Claire de lune
It is difficult to hear Claire de lune (Moonlight) with new ears, so familiar did it become, in various arrangements, even in Debussy´s lifetime. Poetic and evocative, it suggests the nostalgic world conjured up by Verlaine in his Fetes galantes and formed part of Debussy´s Suite bergamasque written between 1890 and 1905.

Eight on 3 and Nine on 2
Eight on 3 and Nine on 2 is a multipercussion duet like no other. This piece tests percussionists’ abilities to split rhythms. Two players perform the piece facing each other, sharing instruments just as they share in playing almost every rhythm in the piece. The listener is engaged aurally and visually as both performers sound like one in an exciting and captivating percussive showcase.

Marianna Bednarska is a young Polish percussionist. After graduating with highest mark from Marta Klimasara at Staatliche Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Stuttgart, she is now studying Solo Music performance under Philippe Spiesser at Geneva University of Music (Switzerland).

She has won 21 first prizes in national and international percussion competitions, among others: 2nd Prize and the Special Prize ‘Best Performance of a Belgian Composition’ at the Universal Marimba Competition of the Belgian Queen (Belgium 2017), 1st Prize and the Special Pize at the International Percussion Competition at Northwestern (Chicago, USA 2016), 1st Prize and the Special Prize of the Bayerischer Rundfunk at the International Marimba Competition in Bamberg (Germany 2016), 1st Prize at the International Marimba Competition in Paris (France 2009), 1st Prize at the International Marimba Competition in Fermo (Italy 2008) and 1st Prize and the Special Prize at the International Percussion Competition in Plovdiv (Bulgaria 2007). She was a finalist in the National Eurovision Competition “Young Musician of the Year 2009”.

As a soloist, Marianna Bednarska has played concerts in many prestigious concert halls in Poland and abroad (Poland, Danemark, Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Bularia, Italy, Ukraine and USA). She is also an active musician, both as ensemble and orchestra player (from 2017 Intern in the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande in Switzerland). In 2013 she was awarded with the ‘Polish-Danish Friendship Prize’ for her close connection with Danish musical life, culminating in the CD recording of Anders Koppel’s four Marimba Concertos (DACAPO Records, 2014) which got extremely positive reviews, both in Poland and abroad (The New York Times, Gramophone, Deutschlandfunk, Fanfare Magazine). In 2017 Marianna Bednarska was nominated for Debut of the year in the prestigious polish award ‘Koryfeusz Muzyki Polskiej’. 

Program notes:

Jesus Torres – Proteus
Jesús Torres (*1965) was born in Saragossa into a family with a long musical tradition and lives in Madrid, where he started received his academic background. His catalogue is around one hundred compositions and includes a multipercussion piece ‘Proteus’. Freely treated formal structure of the composition combines not only an instrumental playing, but also body percussion and voice parts, which is an interpretative challenge for the performer and also determines the attractiveness of the work.

Piet Swerts – L.A.Concerto
Piet Swerts (*1960) was born in Tongeren. He is a piano, analysis and composition teacher and jury member at composition contests. Swerts wrote many compositions for various instruments, among others ‘L.A. Concerto’ for marimba and strings – the compulsory piece for the final round of Universal Marimba Competition 2015 in Belgium, dedicated to Ludwig Albert. The scale of performance difficulties is an artistic challenge at the world level.

Croatian pianist Krešimir Starčević (Zagreb, 1988.) started to play piano only at the age of 12. He finished Franjo Lučić Art School in his home town Velika Gorica in the class of Andreja Markulin. In 2007 he enrolled to Zagreb Music Academy in the class of Đorđe Stanetti. He has spent the academic year 2012/2013 at University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna as a part of Erasmus program, in the class of renowned Austrian pianist Stefan Vladar. He graduated in Zagreb in 2013, receiving Dean’s Award. He has got many prizes in national and international piano competitions. The most significant of those are second prize at the Zlatko Grgošević Competition, first and second prizes at the Croatian national competition of music students, the award of the City of Samobor at the Ferdo Livadić Competition and third prize at the competition of Dino Škrapić Foundation.

In 2017 he received Award for the best artistic collaboration at the Darko Lukić Competition in Zagreb, for playing with cellist Latica Anić, who won the competition. Apart from Latica, he works with other successful Croatian musicians such as saxophonist Lovro Merčep, violinists Marco Graziani and Marin Maras, trumpet player Vedran Kocelj and clarinetist Mihael Paar.

From 2014 he performs regularly with many percussionists, among them Pei-Ching Wu, Hyeji Bak and Filip Merčep. He works as an artistic collaborator of International Percussion Ensemble Week in Bjelovar and in 2017 was official pianist of International Universal Marimba Competition in Belgium. He played on various music festivals and performed as a soloist with Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra, Croatian Radiotelevision Symphony Orchestra and Zagreb Music Academy’s Symphony Orchestra under the conductors Saša Britvić, Pavle Dešpalj and Mladen Tarbuk.

He was attending masterclasses of pianists and pedagogues such as K.-H. Kämmerling, E. Indjić, N. Flores, R. Dalibaltayan, P. Paleczny, N. Grubert, G. Gruzman i E. Hubert. He is an on-going associate of Croatian Radio’s Educational Program. Also, he is active as an organizer and promoter of classical music concerts. Since 2009 till 2014 he was one of the organizers of Virtuoso student concert cycle in Zagreb. In 2014 and 2015 he was the Artistic Director of Zagreb Summer Evenings Festival. In 2016 he co-founded CristoforiumArt company for artist management, production and organization of cultural events.

The percussion duo „DoubleBeats“ was founded in 2012 by Ni Fan (China) and Lukas Böhm (Germany) during their studies at the ‘Hanns Eisler’ Academy of Music Berlin. Currently, as part of their postgraduate studies, the duo is artistically supervised by prof. Li Biao, prof. Franz Schindlbeck, prof. Rainer Seegers and pianist prof. Jonathan Aner – as the first percussion ensemble in chamber music worldwide.

DoubleBeats made their national debut performing the Goldrush-Concerto by Jacob ter Veldhuis for two percussion soloists and orchestra under the conductor Sean Edwards at the Konzerthaus Berlin. Internationally they debuted at the ‘International Percussion Ensemble Week’ in Croatia. At the ‘International Mercedes-Benz Music Festival China’, the duo was presented as „Young Artist of the Year 2012“. Since then, they regularly perform at considerable festivals in Europe and Asia.

DoubleBeats interprets both early and contemporary music. Their repertoirereaches from Bach via Piazolla up to Bartók and contains numerous adaptions and commissionary compositions for traditional as well as modern instruments.

With the release of their debut album ‘Fascination of Percussion’, produced with the multiple Grammy and Echo award winner Jakob Händel at the Berlin Philharmony, DoubleBeats presents essential chamber music for percussion duo, brilliant arrangements of classical music and two ensemble pieces with percussionists of the Berlin Philharmonics.

In 2017, DoubleBeats’ new album will be presented by the Label ‘Naxos’. DoubleBeats is scholarship holder of the Yehudi Menuhin ‘Live Music Now’ Assiciation and endorser of Sabian Cymbals. For „outstanding achievements in the field of interpretation“, the Oscar und Vera Ritter-Stiftung rewarded the duo with the ‚ Ritter-Preis’ and are 1. Prize winner of the Universal Marimba Competition in Belgium 2017.


Flam-a Duo is made by Luis Camacho Montealegre (Spain) and Francesco Mazzoleni (Italy), both graduating students at the Music Academy of the University of Zagreb. The Duo was formed in early 2016 under the mentorship of Igor Lešnik and Ivana Kuljerić Bilić.

Although it is only a year old, Flam-a Duo is attending many European festivals: IBMW (Samobor), Salotto Musicale (Treviso, Italy), Virtuoso Cycle (Zagreb, Croatia), Percute (Valencia, Spain), IPEW (Bjelovar), Percussion Camp (Tenerife, Spain). They won the 2nd Prize at the Percute Chamber Music Competition in Valencia (Spain) in 2016 and the 2nd Prize

The Teclados duo is conformed by Costa Rican percussionist Carmen Alfaro Méndez and the Salvadoran pianist William Gómez Rodríguez. In July 2017 they participated in the worldrenowned Universal Marimba Competition, held in Sint Truiden, Belgium, obtaining two prizes: the Originality Award, and the Igor Lesnik Performing Prize.

Carmen Alfaro Méndez, first Costa Rican percussionist obtaining master degrees in Europe, graduated from the Superior School of Music in Stuttgart, Germany, where she obtained a master degree in percussion under the tutelage of the international percussion soloist Marta Klimasara. She is currently a percussion professor at the School of Music of the National University of Costa Rica and the coordinator of the percussion and drums area of the ACUA, Academy Foundation for Learning and Artistic Culture. Carmen is one of the most active costarican percussionists from her generation. She promotes and includes in her soloist and chamber music repertoire works for percussion from costarican and latinamerican composers.

In 2017 she was invited to participate as marimba soloist at TEdx Pura Vida, also played at the 1st Women in Music Symposium, and was invited as solo drummer at the Drumfest 2017, realized in San José, Costa Rica. She
was creator of the international Percussion Festival “Repercusiones en Costa Rica”, 2007 and 2009.


Program notes:
The piano and the marimba are instruments that have been developed in different historical periods and latitudes. While the piano developed in the European continent during the 18th century, the marimba emerged in Central America and dates back to the Mayan civilization, and to this date, it remains as the most representative instrument of the region.

One can find it in all kind of village celebrations from southern Mexico, till southern Costa Rica, played by numberous families that learned the art of marimba playing through oral tradition. However, percussionists learn to play marimba in music schools, universities and other institutions of academic context. This learning often happens leaving no room for Central or LatinAmerican repertoire for marimba, dismissing the enormous heritage this instrument brings to the region.

The challenge for professional marimba players and composers in Central America is to build bridges between the oral tradition and empiric way of playing marimba, and the artistic form of interpreting and conceiving music for this millennial instrument. In Costa Rica, the marimba was proclaimed national instrument in 2017 through an executive order from the President of the Republic.

What characterizes the Teclados duo is its diverse repertoire, that includes primarily Central American and Latin American compositions. Several of the interpreted works have been written specifically for this ensemble.

The Fantasía Opus 347a uses the tambito, one of the most representative rhythms from the Central American Son. We find also in this work, a “tempo di rumba” indication. Improversation explores different latinamerican rhythms, on a jazz based composition. La irreparable máquina del tiempo develop a minimalistic style inspire in the “3 against 2” mexican traditional music. The combination of both instruments materializes the fusion of two different keyboard instruments, that cover great lengths of time and cultural diversities.

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