Some 36 miles southwest of Zagreb – Croatia’s capital and largest city – is the small town of Karlovac, the place guitar virtuoso Ana Vidovic calls home. Her impressive technical skills and impassioned renditions of music ranging from Bach to early twentieth-century Paraguayan composer Agustín Barrios have given her a ‘superstar’ status in the world of classical guitar. And of course her movie-star looks and style aren't hurting ticket sales to her intimate solo concerts either.
Vidovic’s busy schedule has her landing in Orlando for a free recital next Monday at Valencia College’s Performing Arts Center. The artist aims to introduce the wonders of the classical guitar to new audiences – people who might not already be acquainted with the genre – while also pleasing followers and musicians.
“I go back and check the programs from previous years, look at the pieces I played and try to have a mix of different things,” she says. “There’s Spanish music like Tórroba and Albéniz – Asturias and Granada are very famous pieces – and also Una Limosna, by Barrios. I absolutely love those pieces; I try to introduce them to a maybe non-guitarist audience.”
At 33, Vidovic is one of the youngest world-renowned classical guitarists. She started playing at age 5 and was influenced by her brothers, especially Viktor, also a classical guitarist. “I was 7 or 8 and he had a concert and invited me to play as a guest, so that was my first live performance,” she remembers. Only three years later she was already performing internationally.
How come Ana became an acclaimed performer the world over while Viktor remains virtually unknown outside of Croatia? “I travel internationally but I don’t know if he enjoys traveling as much. It’s not always an easy life; a lot of things have to fall into place – talent, hard work, dedication, persistence, developing your talent. My brother is very accomplished as well; he just took a different life path.”
After studying at Zagreb’s National Musical Academy as a teenager and establishing a brilliant European reputation, she found her way to the land of opportunity via an invitation from Cuban virtuoso Manuel Barrueco, for advanced studies at Baltimore’s Peabody Conservatory. She has lived mainly in Baltimore ever since. “Coming to the States was a very big step for me. I always wanted to do it and it has really helped me a lot to further my career,” she says.
As a performing artist, Vidovic often challenges herself to discover new layers in the music she interprets. She finds that “even though I’ve played those pieces [for years], it’s still a learning experience because I’m still trying to find something new about them.”
Vidovic also enjoys teaching – her “second love” – and often offers master classes while on tour. On the topic of how students can follow in her footsteps and make a career in classical music, “it’s a long process,” she reflects. “There’s no formula. Always improve, be out there and perform as much as possible. When I came to the States I didn’t perform that much, so I had to find places to play and sort of establish myself. I think that we create what our future holds.”
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Valencia College Presents: Ana Vidovic
7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 17
Performing Arts Center, east campus
701 N Econlockhatchee Trail