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Led by the Bosnian-Australian artist Nela Trifkovic and featuring some of Melbourne’s best-known musicians, SARAY Iluminado is known for its distinctive and intimate performance style that thrives on folk music and storytelling.

Sevdah, the traditional music of Bosnia and Herzegovina, is often described as the ‘Balkan Blues’ or the ‘Balkan cousin of Portuguese fado’. This concert sees SARAY Iluminado shed light on the more vibrant and hopeful aspect of sevdah. In the world of Sevdalinka (traditional word for song) those who possess little in the material world carry enormous spiritual and emotional riches that light up the world around them. Straddling borders of music and protest, Happiness is a hymn to the irrepressible power of humanity found in the Balkans.

Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre and SARAY Iluminado


Nela Trifkovic vocals/frame drum
Irine Vela Greek & Cretan laouto
Ernie Gruner violin/mandolin
Kelly Dowall ney flute/clarinet/frame drum
Dan Witton double bass/vocals


Traditional Sevdah
Ali Pasa na Hercegovini (Ali Pasa of Herzegovina)
Dvore gradi komadina Mujo (Komadina Muyo Builds a Castle)
Telal Vice (The Town Crier Calls)
Sejdefu Majka Budjase (The Mother Wakes Seydefa)
Cudna jada od Mostara Grada (The Great Sorrow of Mostar)

Traditional Sephardic
Nani Nani (Nanna’s Song)
Rahelica Baila (Rachel Dances)
Yo Hannino Tu Hannina (You and I, the Beautiful Ones)
Komo La Roza (Like a Rose)
De Edad de Kinze Años (At the Age of 15)


This production is part of the following series:

Local Heroes 2020

Now in its ninth year, Melbourne Recital Centre’s Local Heroes series brings together Melbourne’s best artists in a year-long festival of chamber music.