Marina Arsenijevic (arson-nee-vitch) is a Serbian/American, international award-winning pianist and composer. She is also the star of the Emmy-nominated Public Television program, “Marina at West Point: Unity through Diversity.” which has been broadcast to more than 180 Million viewers with over 450 airings by PBS Stations all across the country. The Concert was recorded live at West Point’s historic Eisenhower Hall and continues to be broadcast all across the country through 2017.
Marina has won six international piano competitions. Her recordings of classical and original compositions have sold over 1 Million copies worldwide. Marina’s compositions reflect her experiences of suffering caused by widespread ethnic strife. She has focused on transforming different musical genres and styles by seamlessly blending diverse cultural and ethnic rhythms with traditional classical themes and techniques. Her music has been described as "unique to the ears yet familiar to the soul."
Pocket ProTechTours: What are you current projects or endeavors?
Marina Arsenijevic: I’m currently working on orchestration for my composition "Tesla's Rhapsody" for piano and orchestra inspired by Gershwin's “Rhapsody in Blue”. I used traditional themes from my homeland with a modern spin. I have been performing the solo piano version, which I performed at the premier of the documentary about Nikola Tesla in New York City.
Pocket ProTechTours: How long has music been a part of your life and how did you become inspired?
Marina Arsenijevic: I became enamored with the piano at the age of 4 when I first saw one being played by the accompanist in my ballet class. I then relentlessly started collecting miniature pianos of all types and sizes. After my collection grew to over 100, I finally convinced my beleaguered parents to buy me a real piano at the age of 6. The piano immediately took charge of my life and I was permanently captivated by the instrument. I was perfectly content to practice all day long, to the relieve my parents
I was only 9 years old when I made my debut solo concert in Belgrade in front of an audience of 2000, performing compositions by Chopin, Beethoven and Brahms. I studied with some of the world's great piano masters from Yugoslavia, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Germany and Russia including Professors Tamas Vasary, Konstantin Bogino and Nevena Popovic.
Pocket ProTechTours: How did you get involved into composing and when did you write your first composition?
Marina Arsenijevic: I was trained as classical pianist and had my awards and concerts as a pianist. When the civil war started in former Yugoslavia I’ve realized that I have a voice true my music and that was the time when I started to combine diverse cultural melodies with varied ethnic rhythms, regardless of their conflicted history to show our common humanity.
I craved peace and unity in the face of ethnic extremism. As a result, I developed my hallmark "Unity In The Face of Diversity" and immediately applied my vision of unity and hope to my compositions, creating a new style of the ethno-classical genre.
On the last day of bombing in June 1999, I introduced my new composition "Kosovo" at the National Museum in Belgrade. As I played the deeply interwoven Christian and Muslim melodies of “Kosovo" with tears flowing down my face, I noticed that the audience also began to weep as everyone in the concert hall realized that Yugoslavia, as a united multi-cultural nation, was no more. The composition helped me and the audience to heal and that was the beginning of my composing life.
Pocket ProTechTours: What is your approach to composing music?
Marina Arsenijevic: I have music theme in my mind and I first right-down and then develop at the piano. My compositions are usually like vignettes that are usually around 5 minutes long.
Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some of your favorite composers?
Marina Arsenijevic: Since I'm coming from classical background I always admired Chopin, Rachmaninov and Franz Liszt. From contemporary composers I love Freddy Mercury.
Pocket ProTechTours: What is your favorite composition /song/piece of all time?
Marina Arsenijevic: Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody
Pocket ProTechTours: What has been your most memorable performance thus far?
Marina Arsenijevic: Every performance is special and brings new experiences and new audience that inspires me, but Iif I had to choose one the concert that was filmed for Public TV (PBS ) with 120 members of West Point Band and Glee Club.
Pocket ProTechTours: What is your least favorite part about the composing process?
Marina Arsenijevic: When I see blank paper and I can’t write I single note. Some composers and creators call it “writers block”.
Pocket ProTechTours: Do you think composing would be harder or take more time if you did not play piano?
Marina Arsenijevic: Yes, certainly. I see myself as primarily a pianist and composing for me is to express myself about the world around me true music.
Pocket ProTechTours: Who are some women that inspire you?
Marina Arsenijevic: I would say that Clara Schumann is one that has inspired me the most. She is one of the first female pianists and composers that has composed a series of small pieces. Her life was not easy having 6 children and famous husband composer Robert who is always living in the realm of imagination. That does not go together with composing.The man who both inspired and hampered his pianist-wife’s creative career, as did her ultimate need to support six children.
Pocket ProTechTours: Do you feel like your gender plays a significant role in the opportunities or treatment that you receive in the music industry?
Marina Arsenijevic: There is significantly more woman that study piano then men but very few female pianists decide to stay on stage. They often choose teaching but not performing. I believe that women create their own limitations, which in many instances are not associated with treatment or opportunities.
Pocket ProTechTours: What advice do you have for the next generation of aspiring composers?
Marina Arsenijevic: Write every day, lock yourself away in a room and keep writing and find yourself true this process.
Pocket ProTechTours: Do you have any special advice for aspiring musicians or composers who are women?
Marina Arsenijevic: You need to dream and dream big. Follow your inner voice and don't be distracted by the crowd around you. You need to be focused and follow your dreams.
Pocket ProTechTours: What brands/companies help make up your sound?
Marina Arsenijevic: I have been working for quite some time with company Ringsidecreative( www.Ringsidecreative.com) as well as with several orchestrators/arrangers from NYC.
Favorite Song- Billy Joel-New York State of Mind
Favorite Food- Italian
Favorite Place You’ve Lived/Visited - New York City
Most Awkward Moment on Stage: I forgot the ending of my own compositions
Favorite Thing to do when you are not playing or composing- I love fashion
For more info about Marina go to:
YouTube @ MarinaAtWestPoint