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Bansko Jazz 2011 – Elina Duni Quartet

May 11, 2011 by · No comments

Interview by Dessislava Berndt with the singer Elina Duni

Jazz Festival Bansko

The International Jazz Festival in Bansko is one of the biggest summer musical events in Bulgaria and one of the foremost international cultural happenings on the Balkans.

Since its foundation in 1998 the festival has been held every year from August 8th to 13th in the small town of Bansko. The concerts are free for the public.

Traditionally, the programme features styles and groups representing almost all jazz trends. During the festival week jazz is also played on various smaller stages in the large resort complexes and restaurants.

Today we would like to present you the jazz singer Elina Duni from Elina Duni Quartet, who will participate this summer in the XIV International Jazz Festival in Bansko.

Elina Duni, Photo: Andrin Winteler

Elina, what does the music mean to you?

I could say that music is somehow my life. I don’t remember any moment of my life without thinking of music.

“Lume, lume”

How did this environment affect your personality and your music?

Well I was born in communist Albania and immigrated to Switzerland in the early 90s when I was ten. At seventeen I discovered jazz and started to sing jazz standards. Then when I met the pianist Colin Vallon at the University of Arts in Bern he gave me the idea to mix Albanian folk songs with jazz. And that’s how everything started. My music is somehow my biography; the way I found to make an amalgam of the two different cultures and worlds that are inside of me.

Elina Duni, Photo: Francesca Pfeffer

Is 2011 going to be your first time at the International Jazz Festival Bansko?

Yes, it is also the first time that I’m coming to Bulgaria.

“Kaval Sviri”

What are your impressions from Bulgaria and the Bulgarian people?

I love Bulgarian folk music and I am singing with my band two Bulgarian songs. I also have some Bulgarian friends and I feel them very close to me, to my Albanian mentality.

“Dhen Mboro Manoula”

For you, what is the most surprising experience working with different musicians?

The individuality. You can sing the same song with different musicians; it’s always going to sound different.

Elina Duni Quartet, Photo: Andrin Winteler

What are you dreaming about?

I’m dreaming about wisdom.

“Ka nje muaj glysem viti”

What is the greatest satisfaction for you as an artist and your biggest challenge?

The greatest satisfaction is to know and feel that I’ve touched people’s soul with my music and the biggest challenge is to keep making interesting music.

Elina Duni Quartet, Photo: Andrin Winteler

What is the most important thing people should know about you?

That I’m a human.

Would you please tell us something about your current and future projects?

At the moment I am playing with my quartet and also thinking and writing for the next CD, which should be released in the autumn of 2012.

Lume, Lume, Photo: Andrin Winteler

Where can your albums be bought from?

At every concert, and in places like Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, Poland; they can be also downloaded on iTunes or Finetunes.

Elina Duni Quartet, Photo: Andrin Winteler

Elina Duni

Born in an artist family in Tirana, Albania, in 1981 – during the Communist regime, Elina Duni made her first steps on stage as a singer at the age of five. At that time she also took up the violin. From 1986 to 1991, she participated in several children’s festivals and sang for the National Albanian Radio and Television.

In 1992, after the fall of the regime, she arrived in Switzerland and settled in Geneva. She studied at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève and at the Collège de Saussure, where she discovered jazz.

Between 2000 and 2004, she played in the movie “Yllka” (Albania-Switzerland, 2002) and co-composed the music. She performed several jazz concerts in Albania together with the pianist Gentian Rushi (CD Live in Tirana, Independent Production) and acted in the plays “Three Farces from Chekhov” and “Little Foxes”, directed by Spiro Duni, Tirana.

Together with José Luis Asaresi she created the band “Extrangers in the Noise”, (CD Harpatic, Empiriko); then she went to New York. After returning to Switzerland, she performed in the play “La preuve du Contraire”, directed by Freddy Porras, Geneva. In 2005 she won the “Special Jury Prize” in Tirana for the CD “Lakuriq”, with the band “Retrovizorja” from Prishtina, Kosovo.

Between 2004 and 2008 she studied singing and composition at the Hochschule der Künste Bern, in the jazz department. During this time she developed the Elina Duni Quartet with Colin Vallon on piano, Patrice Moret on double bass and Norbert Pfammatter on drums. In 2007 she was the prize winner of the “Friedl Wald” scholarship.

In 2008 the CD “Baresha”, the first album of Elina Duni Quartet, was released. European tours followed, as well as the receiving of the honorable prize “Coup de Coeur du Canton de Berne 2008”. In the same year, Elina was the prize winner of the “HKB-Best-Trächsel-Stipendium”.

She sang and co-composed the music for the theater play “Engel”, directed by Christian Probst (Bern) together with Colin Vallon and Rico Baumann.

During 2009 she had several European tours and played in many festivals such as Jazz festival Willisau (CH), Cully Jazz Festival (CH), Jazzfestival Schaffhausen (CH), Grenoble Jazz Festival (FR), Festival Jazzycolors Paris (FR), and others. She was selected by the committee of the festival Swiss Diagonales Jazz to perform with the project “SDJ mentoring project with Bugge Wesseltoft” for a Swiss tour.

The Elina Duni Quartet received from Pro Helvetia “Priority Jazz Encouragement 2010-2012”. In February 2010 the second album of the Quartet “Lume, Lume” (World, World) was released. The band toured in Switzerland, Germany and France and Elina Duni was invited to perform with Manu Katché on several concerts and festivals.

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