Tag Archives: croatia

6: A busy day immersing ourselves in Croatian Culture

Wednesday 10 April

Today, Voices of Birralee were greeted at a local primary school in Zagreb for a morning of cultural exchange. The student ensembles of the Mato Lovrak school and their music teachers and conductors had prepared a few songs to perform for us, commencing with the school’s anthem. Birralee was treated to a variety of dances, Croatian folk songs, game songs, traditional costumes, and some well-known songs in English, including an adorable rendition of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” by the younger choir, and “When I’m 64” by the older choir.

Each of these pieces were applauded heavily by the Birralee audience! The students also gave a very engaging slideshow presentation about Croatia, and the many beautiful parts of this small but astounding country.

We then sang for our guests in return. The Blokes’ performance of “Sarah” was well received, whilst BBV gave a moving performance of “Peace Song.” Finally, the Croatian and Australian singers joined forces to teach, learn and perform together in a boisterous “Sesere Eeye”, a song and dance from the Torres Strait.

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After our cultural exchange, we split into small groups to tour the school, learning all about a Croatian student’s way of life.

At midday, we were treated to a wonderful lunch, including ‘Rizi Bizi’, the Croatian term for risotto.

After farewelling our new friends at Mato Lovrak, we then all travelled to the centre of Zagreb – the “Old Town” – to explore the city sights and experience more of the culture.

Many singers and our accompanist, Justine, ate some juicy strawberries from the local market, whilst others strolled along the shop fronts window shopping, or purchased some snacks for later on.

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Moving to our concert venue, Blokes and BBV rehearsed for the evening concert, the Spring Festival Concert of the choir hosting us in this wonderful city, Čarobna frula! This was a wonderful concert and each choir sang with energy and passion. The Blokes’ rendition of “Privater Marsch” provided some comic relief, and “Kafal Sviri” sung by BBV was also met with rapturous applause!

Both the Vrapčići and Čarobna frula choirs also sang with elegance and precision, with an array of popular choral songs (“Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho”), and more traditional Croatian pieces. The evening culminated in a massed performance of “The Voice,” with all choirs singing in glorious harmony together! We were also very lucky to have the Australian Ambassador to Croatia, Her Excellency, Ms Elizabeth Petrovic, in attendance.

Concluding the evening, BBV and Blokes returned to their respective accommodation and unwound from a busy day.

We invite you to keep following our journey of this epic Europe tour!

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5: On the road to Croatia!

Tuesday April 9

Today began on a bittersweet note as BBV and Blokes farwelled our lovely billets from Austria. This was a sad event for all, as each chorister had been so warmly welcomed into each host’s house and family life – many lifelong friendships have been made!!

Our Australian choristers gave some memorable gifts to our Austrian hosts including shopping bags with koalas on them, Caramello Koalas, Australian-themed tea towels, plush kangaroo toys and many more. Of course, whilst being billeted itself is such a massive gift to us, some Graz families also gave gifts for us to remember them by – including some lovely pumpkin seed oil, maps of Graz, some more Zotter chocolate, coasters and badges. We hope to see these two choirs again in Australia (please come visit us!).

BBV met at the BischGym for the final time to say farewell to the choir and Valentine, whom we will see very soon at the festival in Opatija (they even gave us some Austrian music to learn before then)!

Blokes parted with the Singakademie after some fine group photos were taken to remember our amazing experiences.

We left Austria to head to Slovenia where we stopped at the Ptuj Castle. This historic building hosts some intriguing art, 17th and 16th century furniture, armour and weaponry and traditional Slovenian masks.

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We were even able to try on some replica medieval helmets! Chorister Isaac Kozlovskis said his favourite part of the castle was seeing the old musical instruments, and the impromptu performance of Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus” in the main hall.

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After this we departed for lunch. We were treated to a buffet selection of vegetables, schnitzels, soups, beef stroganoff, bread and some lovely desserts! Chorister Toby Sheppard said he especially loved the selection of cheese!

Feeling very full and satisfied, we hopped on the bus and made our way to our final stop. Parting ways, we all took advantage of some more down time on the way, recharging whilst we crossed over the border from Slovenia to Croatia.

When we arrived in Zagreb, BBV were greeted with warm hugs from our lovely Croatian host families, and spent the night immersed in their culture.

The Blokes’ bus dropped off our APs before settling in to a quaint hostel on the border of Zagreb. We were then taken to a hearty dinner prepared for us by KUD Dragutin Domjanic! We had a chance to meet some local young musicians from the Tamboritza Orchestra, enjoy some lovely crepes for desert, and perform two well-received songs for those who had prepared our meal.

Tomorrow we begin our Croatian adventures – stay tuned!

We invite you to keep following our journey of this epic Europe tour!

Receive the daily posts direct to your inbox by subscribing to this blog – head to the bottom right of this page and click ‘follow’ then enter your email address.

Follow Voices of Birralee via Facebook, and join the ‘Friends of Birralee’s Anzac Centenary Tours’ Facebook group. 

#vobanzac2019 #vobeurope2019 #voicesofbirralee