Then & Now!
Check out this great story from Mark Djokic and read about what he is up now
Then – Memories of Debut Atlantic
As for many Canadian musicians, especially from the Maritimes, Debut Atlantic was my very first touring experience. A tour makes you tougher from being on the road; being flexible, having a good sense of humour and eating healthy are pretty key to staying focused and enjoying every part of this memorable time.
My Debut Atlantic tour, with colleague and pianist Julien LeBlanc, was a time of sharing, learning, and connecting with communities that I haven’t visited before. From this tour we had a better sense of what pieces people connected with, and we enjoyed chatting with the audience before and after concerts – people were not afraid to voice which pieces were their favourite!
We would connect with bilingual audiences through anecdotes, some from our travels and some about the program. There was great audience turnout for each concert, warm receptions, generous hosts and an overall supportive and encouraging network, which reaffirmed my lifelong dedication to bringing music to the Maritimes.
One point of worry during the tour was the health of my colleague Julien LeBlanc. His heart had started to fail on tour – he was having numbness in his hand, and eventually he had surgery as soon as he returned home to Montreal from the tour; it was diagnosed that he had a faulty heart valve. However on the tour, he didn’t know what was wrong with him, and he was having such an amazing time that the excitement of it made him push on, and no one knew that inside he was not feeling 100%. Flash forward to today though, and he is perfectly fine, went on a second Debut Atlantic tour in 2014, became the artistic director of New Brunswick’s Barachois Summer Music series, and we have continued our friendship and collaboration through the years. Most recently, our duo filmed several classical music videos in Montreal and the Maritimes. And to think that both of our musical paths began with Debut Atlantic!
Now – Music in the Maritimes
Every few months or so I’m back in the Maritimes for both work and to visit my folks. It’s always a shot of energy to return to the environment that had fostered me as a young artist. Much of the early years of my development and career as a violinist is rooted in Halifax, so I’m always honored to be performing there now as an established musician.
I perform in summer music festivals such as Scotiafest, Indian River Festival and the New Brunswick Summer Music Festival. It’s an awesome feeling to perform with long time friends and family at these festivals, as well as the chance to collaborate with internationally renowned guest artists. This past April I adjudicated Senior String for the Kiwanis Music Festival, and have given masterclasses and coaching at Dalhousie University, Scotiafest, University of NB among others. I really love teaching – I never get tired of working with students on their technique and performance no matter what age or level. I’m also looking forward to performing a concerto in April 2018 with the Nova Scotia Youth Symphony under Dinuk Wijeratne.
Since Debut Atlantic, my path as a concert violinist and chamber musician has led me to some truly exciting and challenging projects. One of these was a huge two-year, cross-country journey, as the classical music channel ‘noncerto’ produced and filmed more than 45 music videos for featuring myself and my groups. Each music video was filmed in a different location, highlighting either a cultural or historic site. In the Maritimes, I filmed three videos in each of the provinces, some in amazing locations such as the inside of the Confederation Bridge, at the Museum of Immigration Pier 21, and on the rocky cliffs of Newfoundland. Around 24 of these videos have already been released, on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLhvbTpYgtNVFpLnIh_Gr3BfWLPv9GsQNE) and Vimeo, with the rest coming out in the next few months.
In concert, this past Spring I performed the Sibelius Violin Concerto with the PEI Symphony, was blown away by the audience response. Review from The Buzz here:
Coming up ahead in 2018 and 2019 I also have a few concertos planned, including the Philip Glass violin concerto (aka American Four Seasons) with the Sudbury Symphony in 2018. l’ll also be releasing my debut album under the ATMA Classique label in 2018.
I’m already looking forward to the next time I come back to perform or teach in the Maritimes, and hope through these concerts, educational workshops and camps to build upon an already vibrant arts scene.
Marc Djokic | Violinist