Croatian Radiotelevision Tamburitza Orchestra
Croatian Radiotelevision Tamburitza Orchestra was founded in 1941 as a professional ensemble of Radio Zagreb. Since then, the orchestra has been performing Croatian folk music in Radio and Television programs. A large part of the program is consisted of concert pieces written for the tamburitza. Over the last twenty years, program orientation of the Orchestra has expanded and now includes performances of serious, pop, and light orchestral music. Vocal and instrumental soloists of all genres are frequent guests and associates of the Tamburitza Orchestra at their shoots, concerts, and shows on Croatian Radio and Television. Some of the prominent conductors and composers that have conducted with the Orchestra are Lovro von Matačić, Boris Papandopulo, Miljenko Prohaska, Igor Gjadrov, Zlatko Černjul, Igor Kuljerić, and others. Since 1985, the Tamburitza Orchestra has been performing under the artistic guidance of conductor Siniša Leopold.
The tamburitza, our most popular folk instrument, is the only instrument in the area that has evolved from an authentic plebian instrument to an orchestral instrument of unforeseen possibilities over hundreds of years of development. This Orchestra has played a large role in the promotion of tamburitzas and tamburitza music, not only in the musical aspect, but also in the cultural aspect which has resulted in recognition of its value both in Croatia and abroad.
The Orchestra has 18 permanent musicians. The main role of the HRT Tamburitza Orchestra is studio performances for Croatian Radio and Television programs. Recordings are saved in the HRT sound archive, which gives us the access to thousands of recordings of folk, orchestral, and other genres of music. Other than its studio work, the Orchestra is also very active in public concert functions. They perform at music festivals all over Croatia, such as the Zagreb concert cycle In the Tamburitza Ambiance, the traditional New Year’s Concert Waltzes, Polkas and Other Shenanigans at the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb, and other tours and guest appearances in Croatia and abroad.
Some of the Orchestra’s most significant guest appearances abroad include the ones held on RAI, in Vatican, Austria, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, and especially the tours organized by HRT and the Croatian Heritage Foundation-South America in 2002, the Republic of South Africa in 2003, Australia in 2004, the United States of America in 2004, Malaysia in 2007, and Canada in 2010. In 2011, the Croatian Composers’ Society presented the Vatroslav Lisinski award to the HRT Tamburitza Orchestra for their outstanding contribution to Croatian musical heritage during the 70 years of their existence. The Orchestra is very active in discography as well; its album 7 decades 1941 – 2011 : Croatian Composers in the Tamburitza Ambiance won the Croatian discography award Porin for the best tamburitza album in 2012.
Siniša Leopold (1957), composer, music pedagogue, director and publicist, completed his studies at the Zagreb Music Academy. Since 1985, he has been engaged as a senior lecturer at the Academy, as well as the full-time HRT Tamburiza Orchestra Chief Conductor. He has devoted his work to folkloric music, particularly to tamburiza orchestras. He is a co-author of the first text-book for tamburiza (1992), and the author of the book Croatian Tambura (1995). He is the author of a variety of works – compositions and arrangements, film and theater music as well as the first folk tamburiza musical Janica and Jean. Siniša Leopold’s compositions and interpretations have become unavoidable parts in the programs of many ensembles and orchestras and he continues to focus his work towards promoting the expressions of orchestral tamburiza music. Siniša Leopold is also active as a pedagogue at the School of Croatian Folklore and host of numerous international seminars. He has won many awards and recognitions: HRT Annual Award, the town of Samobor Annual Award, the Croatian discography award Porin, Golden Arena for film music and the Order of Croatian Danica with the image of Marko Marulic for contributions to culture.