Ratimir Martinović: Excellence in every sense, Kotor Art Festival 2016 recap

Artistic director of the Kotor Art festival, Ratimir Martinović, shared with #mnetoday his booking dream, challenges, and peculiarities of the festival, distinguishing it from other events in Montenegro.

#mnetoday: Tell us about your audience – what can they look forward to in 2017?

The audience of KotorArt is as diverse as the program itself. Literally from those who have just learned to walk to those who have walked the globe several times over, all can find something for themselves in our program. This has been the case in previous years, and will continue into the future. With over 45,000 visitors this year, our program covers not only the aspect of audience diversity but also their number.

#mnetoday:What’s different about this year’s festival compared to previous years?

The difference is that this year we are older and wiser. The difference is that the organization is at a higher level in every aspect. We also gather more and more important sponsors and friends of the festival. These circumstances help us to organize more efficiently and implement extremely high-quality programs in the unique places of Kotor and Boka. We are working gradually, trying to develop the festival to be sustainable and to follow all the other necessary changes so that the whole idea can last. We all know that it is not so difficult to become; it is much harder to remain.

#mnetoday:What do you enjoy most about running the festival?

I like the fact that we have already brought thousands of artists and dozens of ensembles from around the world to Kotor, and through our programs we reestablished our city as the art centre of the country. For me, the biggest pleasure is that I repaid the debt to this city where I was born and where I had my childhood surrounded and filled with beauty, history, culture, tradition and paradox.

#mnetoday: What makes KotorArt different from other festivals?

I guess – Kotor alone? Each festival is a story in itself. I think it’s important that the programs we make correspond to the environment in which they take place. For me, it does matter whether you listen to Bach on the beach or in a church. Both work, but it’s like instead of using a scarf you use the belt, or you eat Shopska salad with sushi. It could work, but it’s not authentic.

When Vivaldi composed his famous 4 Seasons, he was like a fellow countryman for the people of Kotor. We cherish the city’s tradition, as well as the new terms, ideas and forms that are very much present at the Festival.

KotorArt has a thought-out concept of carefully selected artists, programs and locations, with excellent organization. And yes, the tendency to last longer, past the summer, which in some segments is already happening.

#mnetoday: What are the biggest challenges you face each year?

People. The lack of awareness about the city in which they live, those beauties which they feast on.

People. In high positions, with lack of knowledge of what we do, and the obligation that they should be imposed with such knowledge.

People. Their lack of expertise and competence, in combination with excess conceit and arrogance. It is always challenging.

Did I mention the people?

#mnetoday: Do you look to other European festivals for inspiration, musically or otherwise?

There are great festivals in Europe, even in the region. But I stopped looking for ideals a long time ago. I’m going after what they want. Typically, this is excellence in every sense.

#mnetoday: What’s your personal highlight from the last fifteen KotorArts?

Completely biased, as a musician – maestro, composer, teacher and a great man – Krzysztof Penderecki.

There are a lot of artists and performers, as well as ensembles and plays … but creators, makers and brilliant people who characterize an entire epoch? Not so many.

Penderecki is one of those that marked the music scene of the late 20th century and still leaves a strong mark in everything he does.

#mnetoday: Who would be your dream booking?

Cecilia Bartoli as a soloist with the orchestra conductor Valery Gergiev.

Modest, I know.