SARAY Iluminado – Towards the Ancients

SARAY Iluminado

Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre & SARAY Iluminado


An exploration of the voices who are always absent, revealing themselves only in songs, poems, proverbs and folktales.

SARAY Iluminado specialises in contemporary reimagining of ruptured diasporic heritages expressed through interpretation of Sevdah music from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sephardic Jewish music from the Balkans. Known for their distinctive performance aesthetic that straddles borders of music, storytelling and interrogates the role of ritualistic participation in contemporary music making.

About the concert

Their performance in Primrose Potter Salon presents their most recent intimate stage work, crafted in the format of a performance ritual. This ritual explores the voices of those who are always absent, yet reveal themselves in storylines of songs, verse of poems and roam the world transcending space and time, finding brief expressions in proverbs and folktales.

This trilingual performance features work in Bosnian, English and Judean-Spanish Ladino language, traversing love-stories drenched in plum-brandy and tears, humourous poems about flirting and stewing quinces and tales about interpreting the future by decoding images and symbols found on the bottom of a coffee cup.

Praise for SARAY Iluminado

‘Trifkovic’s voice is something to behold; it cuts through the thick stifled air like a knife through butter.’ The Melbourne Critique

COVID Safety

Melbourne Recital Centre is committed to the safety of our artists, staff and patrons. A range of public health, hygiene and physical distancing measures are currently in place. Click here to learn more.


Nela Trifkovic vocals, frame drum
Irine Vela lutes, frame drum
Kelly Dowall ney flute, clarinet, frame drum
Ernie Gruner mandolin, violin
Dan Witton double bass, vocals, frame drum


Traditional Sevdah
Kafu mi draga ispeci (Brew Me Some Coffee My Love)
Trifkovic Tremor

Traditional Sephardic
Dos Amantes Tengo La Mi Mama (I Have Two Lovers, Mother)

Traditional Sevdah – arr. SARAY Iluminado
Kraj Pendzera Jusuf Stari (Old Joseph’s Song in the Window)

Traditional Sevdah – arr. SARAY Iluminado
Razbolje se lijepa Hajrija (Beautiful Hayriye Falls Ill)

Traditional Sephardic
Noches Noches (Nights, Nights)

Traditional Sephardic – arr. SARAY Iluminado
M’Estas Mirando (You’re Looking at Me)

Traditional Sevdah – arr. SARAY Iluminado
Razbolje se simsir list (Song of the Sick Boxwood Leaf)

Traditional Sephardic – arr. SARAY Iluminado
Yo ‘Menamori Un Aire (I Fell In Love With the Charms)

Traditional Sevdah – arr. SARAY Iluminado
Pjesma o Mehmed Paši (A Sung Tale of Mehmed Pasha)