Trebinje locals bring their appreciation to the Music and More SummerFest Jennifer Reason Tuesday, August 15, 2023 | Sacramento, CA Jennifer Reason / CapRadio CapRadio’s Midday Classical Host and Pianist Jennifer Reason is touring the Dalmation Coast as part of the “Music & More SummerFest.’ She writes to us from Trebinje, Bosnia and Herzegovina about the city’s rich cultural heritage. It’s a Tuesday morning in Trebinje — the southernmost city in Bosnia-Herzegovina — and I am sitting in a large open-air café at 10 a.m. The children on the cobblestone are absentmindedly dancing to the music in the square while playing with chalk and toys. The daily farmers market is bustling nearby, and violinists stroll around playing opera tunes. The day was already starting to heat up and the only thing I really wanted was an iced coffee, but that isn't something you'll find here. Instead I had to settle for a carefully crafted cappuccino. Satisfied with my delicious but hot beverage, I sat down at a table to begin studying my score ahead of my next rehearsal and the next thing you know, the locals at the table next to me — the seemingly gruff older Bosnian men already smoking and drinking at this hour — burst into song (I nearly dropped my perfect cappuccino)! They know the music from the opera the street violins are playing. It’s from George Bizet’s “Carmen,” and they heartily make sure no chorus sing-along part is missed. Jennifer Reason / CapRadio It’s obvious to an outsider like me that music and the arts are an essential part of this community. The music school down the street is several stories tall with perfectly maintained, polished pianos in every single room and storied hallways flaunt proud photos of hundreds of students learning all sorts of instruments. The concert hall — in Trebinje it’s called a “cultural center” — around the other corner just spent 200,000 euros on a brand new nine-foot Steinway piano to ensure an “adequate instrument” was available for our shows. The mayor and other political officials and dignitaries attend every concert, as do all the local news outlets. It matters that music, classical music, is here enriching the city at large. It is, in fact, a priority. So, it makes perfect sense that this area would be home to an international music festival: Music and More Summerfest (as it translates to roughly in English) has welcomed artists from 21 countries and four continents to bring several weeks of the best classical music has to offer to the countries along the Dalmatian Coast. One of my primary performance responsibilities on this tour is Franz Schubert’s “Trout Quintet” — a joyful, sparkling, notoriously demanding piece I have always wanted to play. The scoring is for piano, cello, violin, viola and double bass. Mind you, I am not traveling as a part of this ready-made ensemble. I came to Trebinje alone. Waiting for me when I arrived were artists I had never met from four other countries: Germany, Serbia, Canada and Austria. We had two days rehearsing together to overcome language barriers and unfamiliarity before it was time to take to the stage and tell the story of Schubert’s “Trout.” Jennifer Reason / CapRadio Since music is truly the universal language, and because these artists — from the New York Philharmonic, Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Paris Conservatory and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe — are world-class, the results were magical. We stepped off the stage, unable to contain our beaming smiles every single time, and the audiences rewarded our shared experience with curtain call after curtain call. Classical music isn’t just something for the cultural elite or those “in the know” out here. It’s a pastime, a way of life. From the musicians strolling around the farmer’s market to the gruff local denizens occupying what one assumes is their regular café table in the city square, music is a driving force, the mere particles of which reside firmly in one’s DNA. Appreciation like that makes this artist want to perform here every day. I think there is something to be learned from this way of life. And while I can’t seem to find a barista who will put ice in my coffee, perhaps it’s better that way. Trebinje locals like their arts like they like their coffee — rich, full, carefully crafted, and not in the slightest bit watered down.